Online discussions are fun but they can also become a nuisance to manage. Your comments can be hijacked by trolls, promotional comments, and not to mention the automated comment spam. Out of the box, WordPress does not do much to control comment spam. It doesn’t become issue until your site gets a little older, then comment spam becomes an issue.
In this post, we will look at some simple steps that every site owner should take to fight back comment spam.
1. Enable Comment Moderation
WordPress comes with a built-in system that holds down all comments into a moderation queue until you approve them. Log in to your WordPress admin area and go to Settings -> Discussion page. Scroll down to ‘Before a comment appears’ option and make sure that the box next to Comment must be manually approved is checked.
Now all comments posted on your WordPress site will go to the moderation queue and will not be visible on your site until you approve them.
2. Turn off Comments on Old Posts
The next step in reducing comment spam is to turn off comments on older posts. Comment spam bots usually search the web looking for pages containing a WordPress comment box. By turning off comments on older posts you will be reducing the number of times your posts are found and targeted by spam bots.
WordPress makes this easy with a built in option on Settings -> Discussion page. Scroll down to Other Comments Settings and check the box next to ‘Automatically close comments on articles older than 14 days’.
You can set the number of days before comments close on a post. Click on the save changes button at the bottom of the page. All your older posts will now have comments turned off.
3. Activate Akismet
Akismet is a spam prevention service offered by Automattic (The company behind WordPress.com). It catches the comment spam before it reaches your website.
Akismet is one of the two plugins that come pre-installed with every WordPress site. However, it is not activated by default. If you haven’t turned it on yet, then you need to visit the plugins page and click on the activate link below Akismet.
After activating the plugin you will see a notification asking you to activate your Akismet account. Click on the button and follow on-screen instructions to activate your Akismet account.
4. Using The Antispam Bee Plugin
Say Goodbye to comment spam on your WordPress blog or website. Antispam Bee blocks spam comments and trackbacks effectively, without captchas and without sending personal information to third party services. It is free of charge, ad-free and 100% GDPR compliant.
5. Recaptcha and Quizzes
If the above steps fail to reduce your comment spam load, then perhaps you need to implement more aggressive steps. Using image verification commonly known as CAPTCHA is a popular way to block automated spam. You can also implement a quiz asking simple questions to users on the comment form.
These human verification techniques can have a negative impact and your visitors may feel a bit discouraged. However, if you still want to do that then you will need the Really Simple CAPTCHA plugin.
6. Turn off comments on Media Attachments and Other Post Types
Sometimes comment box may appear on your Media attachment pages in WordPress. Most site owners don’t want users to comment on media attachment page. Here is how you can easily disable comments on not only just media attachments but also on pages and other post types.
You will need to install Disable Comments plugin. Go to the plugin’s settings page located under Settings -> Disable Comments. Select the post types where you want to disable comments and save.
7. Dealing With Manual Comment Spammers
Most of the spam on a typical WordPress site is submitted by spambots. But there are also lots of people who manually submit spam to websites comments. Some of them believe that a leaving a link in comments will increase the linked website’s SEO. Some of these websites are selling illegal or fraudulent products. A large number of them are submitted by low quality spam links builders that anyone can hire from freelancing websites.
Since these comments are actually submitted by a human they can bypass all spam prevention checks. But since you have moderation enabled on your site you can catch them in your moderation queue and mark them as spam.
However, sometimes you will notice that a certain user or users are submitting links to a website in an easily recognizable pattern. They all contain links to the same website, have similar fake email addresses, or are originating from the same IP address.
You can block them using the built-in blacklisting tools in the WordPress dashboard. Go to Settings > Discussion page and scroll down to comment moderation and comment blacklist section.
The first large textarea is for comment moderation. You can add a user’s name, email, url, or ip address in this box. Any comment that matches those will be sent to moderation queue. But since you already have moderation enabled on your site, you may want to use the comment blacklist box.
These filter will also stop any partial match. For example, adding Press will block comments containing words like WordPress.
The blacklist tool is a great way to stop comment trolls from making their way into your moderation queue. Their comments will be marked spam right away.
Comments are a great way to discuss things with your readers and really get engaged with your audience. With these tips and tools you will be able to effectively stop spammers from hijacking your WordPress comments.
Let us know which tools and tips you use to fight back spam on your WordPress sites? Join the discussion below, even if you have questions about using Avada with WordPress.