Understanding and Catching Blog (Comment) Spam
Understanding and catching blog spam as much a fine art as it is science. The science part primarily consists of two things: behavioral psycology and good ol’ common sense (assuming we count common sense as a science). While there are many reasons why people spam, today I want to concentrate on things that you can control: yourself and what goes on your website.
Types Of Spam
The most common spam is pure jibberish. This usually consists of a lot of random text along with seemingly random links. I don’t have a picture of this one sadly, though it’s also the easiest to spot. If you see a (usually) long comment with jiggerish words and lots of links in a list, then you know it’s spam. You can easily and happily delete these.
Keyword spam comments are in my opinion the most annoying. This usually takes of form of filling the commenter name with keywords and then linking that name to a spam website link along with using a pathetic looking e-mail address. The comment content also doesn’t make much sense. Below is an example image of two comments that are comment spam.
Many comments, though, will probably be just really non-sensible and mostly incoherent sentences … if you could even call it that. These types of comments are usually mixed in with keyword spam comments and the last two types. This type of comment is called the non-sense spam.
They may look like sentences, but the logic doesn’t make much sense and the word choice is the single strangest thing ever. More often than not, they also tend to have in-correct line breaks. Here’s an example.
The last two are similar in style, so I’ve grouped them into this one category (even though they really are two different types):
Useless Garbage spam comments take the form of absolutely useless, zero value pieces of wasted digital space. Some are the business solicitation types of “Dear Mr. or Mrs. Business owner, I didn’t see an e-mail on your site”, well that’s because you didn’t look jack-ass, “so I used your contact form”, no you used my comment section, “to offer you our great SEO customized seo services.” … blah.blah.blah.
The other type is the “Awesome blog. I will subscribe. You should subscribe to my blog too” type garbage. If someone really thought it was an awesome blog they’d say so and then say something actually relavent to the post!
Plus, both of these types of spam comments also usually have keyword type names, along with spammy looking URLs and junk e-mails that don’t match anything.
A mix of these can look something like this:
Now that you know what to look for mostly, let’s take a look at how you can block most spam from your website (based on WordPress setups) and then a few tips from experience.
Curtailing Spam (Stopping it ever it even gets here)
WordPress thankfully offers a plethora of options and plugins, so let’s begin with those. The first and probably most popular (and important) is to install a plugin called Akismet. Most, if not all, WordPress installations come with this pre-installed so all you have to do is enable it and enter the required API key. All the directions to do so are in the plugin settings.
Next, is a plugin to stop most bad spam bots in their tracks. Be warned though, while this is a very powerful plugin it can very well disable some social sharing services from working! For example, when I used to use Bad Behavior, the Google+ share button would not work at all. So, if you don’t have about the Google+ share button (and potentially others) then go ahead and install Bad Behavior
Another great add-on is to force ‘captcha’. Captcha is, depending on the system, one of those security questions you have to answer before logging in, signging up or commenting on other blogs and forums. They usually ask you to retype the words they give you; though some of the newest ones make you fix an image, play with numbers or answer a math problem.
A great and easy way to add captcha to WordPress is with the Better WordPress reCaptcha plugin.
A quick recap of the plugins:
Tops Tips To Manage Comments (& Spam)
1) First, enable the following three options in Settings->Discussion in the admin area:
- Comment author must fill out name and e-mail
- An administrator must always approve the comment
- Comment author must have a previously approved comment
2) If in doubt, delete the comment.
3) Schedule only for only once a week, if you have a small to medium sized blog, to manage spam and potential spam comments.
4) If it looks fishy, then it probably is. Delete it!
That’s all folk. I hope this has helped. If it has, please let me know in the comments.
Also, what other things are you doing on your blog to help curtail spam comments?