How to Combat the Comment Spam in WordPress

How to Combat the Comment Spam in WordPress

Andy Holland

For the WordPress blogger there’s few things more frustrating than users leaving spam in the comments section. After tirelessly crafting the perfect article, the devious spammer is ready to undone all your hard work.

It’s a major problem in the WordPress community with some websites receiving hundreds and even thousands of these unruly comments every week. Aside from cluttering up the comments and detracting from those use who actually have a valid point to make, this can have major implications on your brand image. After all, as this spam is found on your site, many users simply assume it has something to do with you.

That said, you’ll want to follow one of these quick and easy fixes to combat spam in WordPress.

Do not remove nofollow attribute

Removing the nofollow attribute in comment author links is a common mistake made by newbie WordPress users. While it seems like a great way to encourage more comments, you’re actually opening your site to heaps of spam. Avoid the temptation to add a plugin designed for this or face the consequences of wading through endless spam links.

Use the Akismet Plugin

No need to download the Akismet plugin as it’s already installed in the standard WordPress package. Once activated, you’ll be given and API key and be ready for alerts on any spam comment. Each and every comment goes through Akismet before being checked for signs of unscrupulous activity. If it turns out to be spam, this handy plugin will recognise and alert you instantly.

Download a Captcha Verification Plugin

Add the WP-reCAPTCHA plugin and you’ll go some way to deterring the bots which scour the WordPress community leaving as many spam links as possible. Now when users want to add a comment, they’ll have to type in characters that are shown in an image to prove they are human. While it’s a great way to deter bots, it’s not so effective for those user which leave spam manually.

Utilise Cookies

Another handy plugin is Cookies for Comments, an effective solution for spam bots that won’t require users to fill out displayed information. Instead, this plugin sends a stylesheet or image file to a user whenever they access a page on your site. If the user automatically downloads this file, it’s a sure sign that they are human and they’re identified as safe. On the other hand, most bots who follow automated scripts do not download any images or stylesheets, making them instantly recognisable using this plugin. These are now blocked without the access to leave a comment.

Disable comments on old posts

Spam doesn’t only effect your newest posts, users can leave these comments on all of your existing content. To avoid this problem, simply set a comment closure deadline by going to ‘Settings’ followed by ‘Discussion’ and ‘Other comment settings’. From here, there’s an option to ‘Automatically close comments on articles older than’.  Once you’ve checked this box, you can enter how many days you want comments to be displayed for. This can still be overridden in the future but WordPress will automatically close the comments section after the desired time period. For many, it’s enough to deter spam users visiting their site.