Three Easy Ways to Protect Your Blog from Spam

SPAM Shrine

I love getting comments on my blog, but managing them can be a pain.

A friend called me recently saying, “Lisa, help me! Help! My blog is full of spam!”

Sure enough, she had about 2 dozen comments on one of her blog posts, and every single one of them was spam. She didn’t know how they got there, and more importantly, she didn’t know how to get rid of them.

What’s the key to managing spam?

One word – prevention. It’s really not that difficult. Here are the three key things you can do to stop spammers in their tracks.

Activate Akismet

Akismet is a plugin that is built into WordPress. It’s very effective at blocking spammers – it marks suspicious comments as spam and files them away in a spam folder. I still go through my spam comments occasionally and make sure that a valid comment didn’t get filed there by mistake – but 99.9% of the time Akismet does it correctly. If a spam comment happens to get through the filter, you can still mark it as spam, and Akismet won’t let that commenter through again.

Once you activate the plugin you’ll be prompted to go get an API key. Just click on the link and follow the instructions. It’s really very simple. There are plenty of other plugins out there, but I find Akismet does the job quite well.

Require moderation

Keep the door to your blog locked by setting things up so that you screen all first time commenters. In your blog’s settings, go to the “comments” section, and set it to require moderation for first-time commenters. That means if someone comes to your blog and comments for the first time, you need to actually approve the comment before it will show up on your blog. By choosing this option, you keep control over the comments – and after someone has been approved once, you won’t have to approve them again.

I don’t recommend requiring moderation for every comment all the time, because that just discourages people from posting. Remember, comments encourage discussion among your readers, so don’t put an unnecessary barrier there.

Know who you’re approving

Once you’ve activated Akismet and set up moderation, this is the most critical piece to stopping spammers. Because you’ve chosen the “moderate once” option, that means that if you approve a comment from a spammer, you’ve opened the door wide open for them to flood your blog with spam comments. This is what happened to my friend.

Be very careful about who you approve. Don’t just blindly approve every comment that gets through Akismet, assuming it’s ok. You still need to pay attention.

How do you tell the difference between a real comment and spam?

Spammers are smart – sure, you’ll see a lot of junk that’s obviously spam, but often you’ll see something that’s not so obvious. It looks like it might be legit…but you’re not sure.

In this case I look at the URL – if it’s something like bestdomainsearch.us, that’s most likely spam – but I might go visit the site to be sure (just be careful that you don’t open your computer up to a virus by clicking on something you shouldn’t). You can usually tell pretty quickly if the site is legit or not. If it has lots of ads and not much real content, it’s a scraper site and you don’t want to approve that comment. Look for an “about” page, or a contact page. Most of these types of sites won’t have one – or if they do they’re junk.

Still not sure? Remove the URL

Spammers post to get links back to their sites, so if you remove the URL that removes the link. Just edit the comment, remove the URL and you’re done.

With a little practice, you’ll get really good at spotting spam comments

Don’t ever be afraid to mark a comment as spam if you’re not sure. Sure, you risk blocking a real commenter, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Questions? Comments? Post them below!

Share Button

Comments

  1. says

    As you know, this happened to me a few months ago. My blog was deluged with spam after I accepted a comment that was very complimentary of my writing but a little off in the language (syntax and reference) and the domain name was for a group site. I intuitively knew it was spam but the spammer promised to tell all his friends and send them to my site. Boy did he ever! Thankfully, you took care of this for me! I would encourage folks to use their intuition or gut instinct — if it feels like spam, smells like spam, looks like spam, delete it!

  2. says

    Great advice!
    One more quick tip about reviewing comments for spam: the less-obvious spammers don’t say anything specific about your post or the topic you’ve written about. Instead, they’ll say something generic like “I really like your site. The articles are very interesting.”
    Instant delete!

    • says

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I am new to the blogging world, and am learning that I have so much to learn about all this! My blog has not even been up a week yet, and a comment from someone I’ve never heard of popped up saying something like “I am very excited about your blog. I find it very helpful and useful.” My blog is about nothing “helpful” at all lol! Its purely a safe place to look at all that makes us laugh and cry, as people. Its about life. Something about that post didn’t hit me right, but I probably would have accepted it, had I not come across the advice posted here! Thanks for saving my new little baby blog!!

  3. says

    Im finding it very hard to tell what is spam and what isn’t on my new site, I feel a little let down I thought people where actually visiting it – ow well I’m installing Akismet now. thanks a bunch :)

    • Lisa says

      Hi Amy – don’t feel bad, you’re certainly not alone. These spammers get harder and harder to spot. Check the URL that they’re linking to, and when in doubt, delete the link – or delete the comment altogether.

      Akismet will help – I promise. :)

      • says

        Thanks for your tips on recognizing spammers, which has led to my deleting several generic comments about the site, which included requests to critique their own sites. One comment includes 8 or so websites & I can’t edit the comment to remove them. They look legit, but I don’t want to publicize them – recommendations? Thanks very much -

        • Lisa says

          Hi Alan – Normally you would be able to remove the links to the websites so the commenter won’t have any inbound links from your website. I’m not sure why you can’t edit the comment, though – that’s not typical of WordPress. Try just deleting it.

  4. says

    Lisa,

    Thanks for your post, another great tip would be to have have a capture code at for commenters to enter.

    Filters out the robots..

    Nice post:)

  5. says

    Hello, Lisa.

    I have a little question about Akismet as a manager for blog spam. When I will allow someone’s comment that is in spam or in awaiting approval (any of those) will then Akismet publish their comments without my approval? I can’t find any option about this in Akismet.

    • Lisa says

      Hi Jean –

      Yes, once you approve a comment, you’re giving permission and Akismet will let future comments from that person through.

  6. says

    I have a WordPress blog that’s mostly technical stuff that I stuck on the web so as not to lose things…. I was getting a ton of SPAM and I think you have to pay for Askimet, as I recall – and I’m poor. I installed a plug-in called “WP Anti Spam” and blocked a bunch of words – and, of course, I require moderation for all comments. The word blocking cut the spam comments to almost nothing. Seem as though they use a lot of superlatives, (eg. “awesome”, “wonderful”, “amazing”, etc.). It really shouldn’t be that hard to determine what’s SPAM as it’s always very general – and usually weird hyperbole.

    • Lisa says

      Hi Guy – Thanks for that suggestion. Yes, Akismet used to be free and unless you had an account at that time there will be a small charge to use it. It sounds like you have a good system going. I’ll add that plugin to my list of recommendations. As you say, moderation is the key.

      As I’m sure you realize, by flagging those particular words you run the risk of blocking valid comments, so you should scan your spam folder regularly and make corrections where needed.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation!

  7. says

    This came at the right time. I too am new to blogging and noticed for the first time a spam folder of comments. I opened to see really dubious comments there and I knew it wasn’t right. Great post though, “I am very excited about your blog. I find it very helpful and useful.” Sorry I just had to throw that in there LOL, I had 8 of those!!

  8. says

    Hi, this is really helpful, I’ve had my blog since uni but i’m now trying to get back into it but I get so many spam comments. Some really do confuse me! but strangely there all on one post? is that usual, is there something that draws spam comments to a post??

    I have a wordpress account, and I think I have a version of Aksimet, which is lucky! Just wish I would get some real comments haha!

  9. says

    Hi. Could you tell me anything about how to allow comments or make them visible on your blog that show up under the ‘Feedback’ tab? A few people who read my blog asked if there was anyway that they could comment without logging in with WordPress, which is why I added another comment box, much like this one actually, for them to add their comments separately. These comments appear under the Feedback tab, but I can’t get them to show up on my blog even though I see them listed under the this tab on my Dashboard. Any suggestions?

    • Lisa says

      Hi Travesaou – I’m not sure where you’re seeing a feedback tab. Are you using a plugin? By default, people don’t need to log into WordPress to comment. Can you clarify?

      • says

        You’re right about not having to log-in to WordPress to leave a comment. I tried it myself without using my WordPress account and it worked fine. I don’t know what they were talking about. As for the ‘Feedback’ tab, it’s under the Dashboard options. If you don’t have it, it’s probably a plug-in. I decided to just enter the feedback comments myself on my blog the normal way as they submitted the same information anyway and it worked so never mind. I’ve had a WordPress account for about two years now but only just started to use it a few months ago so things are still a bit sketchy. Thanks for this article on spammers. I immediately went through the ones I had approved and ‘unapproved’ a lot of them and sent it to the trash that I always thought had sounded weird but my guess was the person just didn’t know English very well. But I checked their site and like you said just adverts, no ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ info. Good thing I did, I got about 10 comments from two that ‘were’ approved a few days after, that was just the same sentence over and over on all my posts. If I hadn’t unapproved them it would have been registered immediately. Thanks for the head’s up!

  10. says

    The plugin which I’ve finally found which is both free, and, which pretty much gets rid of SPAM comments altogether is simply called “quiz”. It allows you to write your own questions and a commenter’s answer is matched against an answer in the MySQL database. For instance, my current questions is, “What temperature is ice – hot or cold?”. If a human being doesn’t type “cold”, the comment does not happen. The word-based filter I’d suggested a couple of months ago is alright, but any time you filter things based upon certain words legitimate comments may get blocked. I’ve also used “Math Comment SPAM Protection” and it works very well – but I’ve had it defeated twice. Presumably a bot has been written which does the math!

    If you can’t find these plugins go to http://www.guymerrittonline.com and search -I’ve only got about 4 posts so they should be easy to find.

  11. says

    What I thought was a nice comment turned out to be spam. Now I have to stop leak before the levee breaks! Thanks for the tips.

  12. says

    Hi Lisa
    This blog helped me a lot. Your website is awesome!
    Just kidding. I’m not a spam bot. But honestly your website is awesome :) Will give the “Quiz” plugin a try.

  13. says

    What makes some website blogs more vulnerable to spam than others?
    I came across a blog, all written in Greek and it literally has over 20,000 comments on some of the posts. The writings are nothing special and they stopped posting a few years ago yet everyday they get more and more posts. (in English too, weird cos its a greek blog)

  14. says

    Relly very helpful blog. I was getting very much comments daily on my blog and mostly were spam. Finally I found your post on google, that helped me. So thanx for such a great post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>