Blog Comment Spam ~ Can You Stop It?

One of the most annoying things about being a blogger is blog comment spam. In the beginning, when you’re not getting any comments it will be kind of exciting when people start finding your blog. You’ll be excited to see comments, and most likely it won’t take long for you to feel disappointed when you realize they’re just spam. :(

These days new technology is making blog comment spam look more and more like real comments. It can be tough to decipher the real comments from the spam. It will be important for you to create a pretty solid comment policy (if nothing else, at least in your head) so when the comments start rolling in you’ll know which ones to save, which ones to trash and which ones to mark as spam. That policy will be different for every person, and as time goes on and you see more and more mediocre to crap comments come through your site, your personal policy is likely to get a little tougher as well.

Let’s look at some ways to manage blog comments spam, because really that’s all you can do is manage it ~ unless you want to completely turn comments off on your site. (which isn’t a bad idea if you’re running an e-commerce type site, but if you’re running a blog the interaction is a really big part of creating a community.)

Akismet

Akismet is your first line of defense. Akismet is a free plugin that comes preinstalled in your wordpress blog (sorry blogger people, they don’t have akismet). To get it started you’ll have to activate the plugin in your plugin area. Then you’ll have to take one more step, and get an  API key to activate it.

If you currently have a wordpress.com account you can get your key there. Go to personal settings and you’ll see a link to get your API key from akismet.  If you don’t already have an account at wordpress.com, it now looks like you’ll have to get your key through akismet directly.

Go to Akismet.com and choose a plan. They give you some pricey options, and make it look like you’re going to have to pay, but if you’re just starting out, whether you’re doing affiliate marketing or just doing a personal site go with the free option. If you start getting traffic and too many comments where you need a higher plan, you’ll most likely be making enough money to cover the upgrade. You can find the free plan from the link under the plan options where it says personal site.

On the next page there is a slider where you can choose what you want to pay. Just slide it down to zero. Continue through the process until you get your key.

While akismet is generally the “go to” plugin for spam management there are others out there. I personally only use Akismet, but here’s a couple others I’ve heard good things about: wp-spamfree and Bad Behavior

Whatever you choose, you will need something. Spam comments don’t come from people as much anymore as they do from computer robots ~ so they will eventually find you. :) I just deleted tons of spam comments off a site that only has wordpress installed and the “hello” post that’s there by default. It’s amazing how many people think that content is wonderful. :)

Give people the link they’re looking for

So once you’ve got your software in place, the second thing you might want to think about is giving people the chance to get a link without being spammers. I do this by using keywordluv and commentluv plugins. Keywordluv creates a link to JUST people’s keywords in the name field, but also allows them to use their name. I get to know someone’s name, and they get to use their keywords. Commentluv pulls in the person’s last blog post and links to it within the comment area. You can use one or both of these plugins on your site.

Do keep in mind that many affiliate marketers will search google for sites using these plugins and come to your site not to read your content, but to get a link. (This is where a solid personal comment policy comes in handy). It may be a real person who stops by and maybe reads your post, and leaves a comment, but it may be a REALLY BAD comment. You have to decide what quality of comments you’ll allow on your site. It’s your site, you get to make the final call.

Don’t let the first timers in

I personally HATE this when I’m a first time commenter, but I completely understand it, and it’s how I have my site set up. In your discussions settings you’ll see an option to automatically post comments only when they already have 1 published comment. That way you always get to moderate someone’s first comment. If it’s a spammer or link seeker and you choose to spam/trash their first comment, their second one won’t publish, you’ll have to moderate it as well.

This policy sucks for real people who are leaving real comments the first time on your blog because their comment will be in moderation until you choose to publish it. I personally like to tweet, or post to facebook a lot of the posts I think are good enough that I comment on them, but I also want a little benefit of people seeing my comment there when I do tweet, or post to facebook. So if my comment goes to moderation and isn’t there,  I probably won’t tweet/post the article.

Creating your comment policy

If you have a pretty solid comment policy in place you can always use a plugin to post your comment policy right in the comment area, or use a plugin that makes people click a box that they agree with your comment policy. This won’t stop real people spammers, but it will stop a lot of the bot spam.

If you’re still trying to decide on your comment policy, just remember those comments that seem real ~ the ones that even use your name, or your site name ~ they probably aren’t. In fact, they’re likely created by a bot, and you’ll never know for sure until you see it done the wrong way… like this:

For a really long time I used to feel bad deleting comments… especially since I run a blog for beginners. I always gave people the benefit of the doubt… not so much anymore. If you think I’m tough on comments, you’ll see I’m kind of a pussy cat once you read this fantastic post over at Remarkablogger, the 7 reasons why I deleted your comments. (there’s cussing)

So, I’d love to hear what your spam policy is. Do you trash comments? Mark them as spam? Moderate every comment? What’s working for you? What plugins are you using to manage the blog comment spam? Please, share your “real” comments below lol.

Comments

  1. Great article, I received a LOT of spam comments too. I think about this issue a lot as a professional SEO. Its a great link building tool, and I hate to see spammers ruin that. I am fine with people reading my blog post, or even barely skimming it, then posting something half-way relevant. How hard is that? We all want links and I get that, but c’mon spammers, at least pretend to be real people. Haha, anyway, enough ranting. Good post, you’re right, guidelines need to be established – for everyone’s sanity.

  2. My blog was a spam comment magnet. I’ve used Akismet for several years and it works for me, but the number of comments in my spam folder annoyed me so I turned off comments on older posts. I wasn’t getting any legitimate comments on them and what was 200-300 spam comments a week went down to less than 10.

  3. I’m not a great fan of Akismet. It really is a “one man band” operation, and I’ve not had great experience with it (especially for a paid service). I ended up going with a captcha plugin instead, which I’ve found to cut spam pretty much dead. It doesn’t seem to put off genuine comments, so it’s definitely worth considering to combat spam.

  4. Akismet and the Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin have helped me to limit the amount of spam I receive. Before I began using these tools I would see at least 20 spam comments per day. Another suggestion might be to turn comments off after a while. I understand that we never want to hinder someone from voicing their opinion, but this has also helped me to limit spam comments.

  5. I’ve only been blogging for ~2 weeks, and I’ve been inundated with spam since last week (How can they possibly find you after a few posts?).

    Yesterday I finaly posted my own comment policy, but now that I just read this post and the comments, I think that a lot of the spam may be from bots and those bots will obviously not read the comment policy. I will experiment and may implement some of the plugins listed by the other commenters.

    I’ve been really torn as to how to decide if it is spam or not. Some things are easy to pick out (the HIIIII comments or nonsensical terms), but if they give a compliment and then put up link to their landing page — I just don’t know the best step to take.

    I also wonder if my blog will go down in terms of ranking (not that it has any ranking at 2 weeks, but if it ever gets to that point — will links to web pages from spammers take down the gogle ratign of my blog ?)

    • Jackie Lee says:

      It is tough to decide on a comment policy. I personally (now… and it was definitely tough to come to this point) do not publish comments that do not add to the conversation… (great post, and compliments are not published), and I don’t publish comments that have links in them… I give people ample opportunity to get links from my site. I also do not publish comments that do not have a real first name in the name field, again ample opportunity to get links. That’s my policy, and now I error on the side of no more junk, and if people I don’t really know get caught up in that, then I feel a little bad… but that just means they need to write better comments. :)
      You’ll have to come to some decisions about what works for you… it’s much easier, once you have some “rules” in your head, to hit the delete button. :)

  6. Found you on stumble. great article for newbies. When I see a different type of spam comment I always Google blog search a snippet of the sentence and I’m always surprise at the amount that get approved. I think they are going after the new and naive bloggers.

    PS – I’m a big fan of Akismet

  7. I am new to WP so I use Akismet – Not sure I know the ins and outs of it but I do know that since installing it I receive nearly zero spam. I sometimes will get moderated posts and for the most part they are spam. I too used to hate deleted comments but I am over that. :) If it doesn’t add to the discussion even if you compliment me you are going to get deleted. sorry but it is just the way it is.

    My other blog on blogger doesn’t get spam at all but then I’m not a ‘marketer’ so I agree that it really depends on your niche and the keywords you are using whether the bots and the real people bots spam your blog.

  8. First of all, I use Akismet so I know that Akismet works well in marking comments as spams. The annoying thing is that you have to keep on cleaning the SPAM box. When it gets too many spams, you need more than just Akismet.
    - Install captcha plugin
    - Add their IP addresses to the Blocked list (banned list)
    - Add banned keywords to the list

    • Jackie Lee says:

      I think it really depends on your niche. I personally hate captchas and would never install one on one of my sites… I have never gone so far as to add ip addresses or keywords to the list… but I don’t get all that much spam. I’ve never had to “clean my spam box” so I think it may have to do with the niche?

    • Be very careful blocking entire IP’s, you have no idea how many legitimate folks on the same IP you’re blocking.

  9. I used to get a lot of spam until I added a captcha plugin to stop the bots from posting on my site. I have also seen these simple check-boxes that accomplish the same thing in a simpler way for real people. But I still get trackbacks from spam sites that don’t really have a link to my site or have a nofollow link. I need to find a solution for those.

  10. I find keeping a very close eye on comments to be very effective. I am fairly intolerent, if the comment doesn’t really “say” anything I’ll zap it pretty quickly.

    I guess the “Luv” plugins attract a lot of additional commentors who are more interested in a link that the post – that’s what always puts me off. But maybe they are worth a try…

    Thankfully Akismet gets most of the real spammy stuff.

  11. Step 1″: Ditch Akismet and go for GASP as Rick suggested also. Akismet is notorious for false positives and banning legit commenters.

    Never captcha, the only thing they do real well is annoy legit commenters.

    As for a new experiment I’ve been doing, which you might wanna try – http://www.dennisedell.com/11749/

    Dennis Edell@Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog..100 Down Thousands to Go!

  12. So true. I was always so happy to see so many comments and then I checked— pretty much all spams. I used to have hard time deleting the comments. Comments like “great post, and “great article” used to make me happy until I realized that they are very much spam comments as well. Now I delete everything and anything that doesn’t seem like genuine comment. By the way, I am using TanTanNoodles Simple Spam Filter.

  13. Jackie:

    I actually have two plugins that I have used. The first is TanTanNoodles Simple Spam Filter. This plugin checks the comment for spam. If the plugin thinks the comment is spam, the user will be presented with a captcha to confirm that the comment is legitimate. Comments that don’t pass the captcha will be immediately discarded.

    The second is Growmap Anti Spambot. This plugin adds a client side generated checkbox to the comment form requesting that the user clicks it to prove they are not a spammer. Bots wont see it so their spam comment will be discarded.

    Both of these plugins have worked well.

    I have not really thought much about allowing comments to be automatically posted. I will have to give this some thought.

    - Rick

  14. Jackie,
    I was at first excited and then dismayed to see that comments to my blog were actually spam. As you know, spam comments go into the “spam” folder.
    What is fun is when I see a new comment in the “pending” folder. Then I know something good may have come in that day.
    Do you know of a good WordPress plugin that presents a contact form in the blog for reader feedback? That is something that I need.
    As always, thanks for your articles.

    • Jackie Lee says:

      contact form 7 is what I use on my sites that have a contact form.
      Not all spam comments go to the spam folder though… that’s where it can be really tricky knowing whether a comment is real or posted by a bot. Some of those bot comments look more and more like real comments these days… and again it’s important to decide on the standard of comments you’re looking for on your blog ~ if you’re willing to publish “great post” kind of comments or not.

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