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Sumy Designs Blog

Comment Spam

Everyone hates spam. You can get email spam, form spam, analytics spam, robocall spam and comment spam. That’s a lot of types of spam and I’m sure that’s not even a comprehensive list.

So what is comment spam? It’s spam that lands on a post on a blog post in the comment section. There are a few different kinds of spam you can get on your blog. First, there’s the obvious kind of spam, which is nonsensical words, long comments in another language, or links to places to by certain types of medication.

Then there are the less obvious type of spam. The kind that looks like a regular comment, something like, “This is great content, thank you for sharing.” I had a client many years ago that I almost could not convince those comments were spam, he was sure they all loved his content. Why do they leave a comment like that? Since it seems real, a real message, not too much and very vague, you might be inclined to approve it, but they also included a link with their name, which then links back to the place they are trying to build backlinks to. And the reason that they are vague is because they never read your post and are posting the same thing on hundreds of blogs. I like to call this backlink bot spam, since it’s likely not a human doing it but a bot planting it on as many blogs as it can.

Then there is human backlink spam. As it gets harder and harder to get backlinks, those doing SEO and trying to find links are finding it harder and harder to do. So a trend I saw a few years ago was legitimate comments on blogs, comments that related to the content, but the name of the comment author was a the keyword they wanted to rank for and the link they included was to a specific page they were trying to rank on their site.

I see what you did there. I tend to not publish those types of comments. If I think the comment is actually useful, I might publish it but remove the link.

But for the thousands and thousands of comments you would get without taking any precautions, you need a system to put a stop to it, or else you’d be deleting spam all day long. There are a few options that I recommend for stopping comment spam.

comment spam

Akismet

Akismet

Akismet is a plugin, created by the folks at Automattic, that filters your spam before you get it.

How does Akismet work? 

Each time a new comment, trackback, or pingback is added to your site it’s submitted to the Akismet web service which runs hundreds of tests on the comment and returns a thumbs up or thumbs down. As a result, you don’t have to waste your time sorting through and deleting spammy comments from your blog.

You do have to sign up for an account, but they have a free level for personal blogs. Once it’s installed and activated, you can say goodbye to comment spam! It even integrates with Gravity Forms, so you can catch form spam at the same time.

Other Spam Fighting Options

I’ve been in the Akismet camp for many years, but there are other options you can check out. I’ve heard good things about Antispam Bee, but I’ve never personally used it. It’s active on over 400,000 websites, so with that kind of user base, it has to be good.

You could also switch to a third-party comment system like Disqus, which eliminates most of your spam but does come at a cost. There is a free version, but it puts ads in your comments section, which I am against.

Steps you can take on your own

  • Don’t allow more than two links per post. You make this moderation in Settings->Discussion.
  • Block certain words, so common words that we see in spam (none of which I’m going to list here) would be blacklisted and those comments would never go through.
  • Create a list of ‘blacklisted’ words
  • Only allow comments from registered users.
  • Never allow comments from unapproved users to post without moderation.

Deleting Comment Spam

I have, on more than one occasion, logged into someone’s site who did not have a comment filter set up and found THOUSANDS of spam messages just sitting there, unapproved. This made me twitchy. It can be overwhelming when you have that many spam comments. You don’t want to spend all day deleting them. The solution is a simple SQL query that will wipe them out in one swoop.

DELETE FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = 'spam';

This will instantly remove all comments that are flagged as spam. If the comments aren’t already marked as spam and are just unapproved, changed the word ‘spam’ to ‘0’ and the query will delete all unapproved comments. I literally once saw a site that had 40,000 spam comments. This query will remove them all of them in seconds.

If you are unfamiliar with running database queries, DO NOT TRY THIS. And always, always, make a backup of your database before you run any SQL queries. (Or hire us to do it for you.)


Comment spam is a bummer and you can’t have a WordPress site without some kind of comment spam system.

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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