One of the great things about the internet is how easy it is for complete strangers to make connections. The downside of this is that there are plenty of people out there you probably don’t want to be connected with. If you’ve got an email account or a blog you’ve run into one group that has become the bane of internet users worldwide, spammers.
If you set up a WordPress blog you will be targeted by spammers who will attempt to fill up your comment section with unwanted advertisements. Fortunately WordPress has created tools that can be used to help you defend against spammers.
Manual Comment Moderation
As a blogger one of the things you need to decide early on is your approach to comments. While an active comment section can increase reader engagement and quality comments can improve the value of your site you have to be conscious of the fact that comments are inherently risky. You’re letting people post their own content on your site and if you’re not careful this can end badly. So consider how you want to moderate comments on your site.
If you want full control over what is posted on your site then you should try manual comment moderation. This way you will be able to review any comments submitted so you can approve or deny any comment before it appears on your site. Just click on the box labeled “ An administrator must approve the comment (regardless of any matches below).” under Settings > Discussion in the administration panel.
This option is perfect for new bloggers since you aren’t likely to get many comments in the beginning, but as your site gets bigger you will want to explore more automated options.
Dealing With Trusted Commenters
Taking the time to read and deal with all the comments on your site doesn’t just impact you as a blogger, your readers also have to deal with the lag between submitting a comment and seeing it posted. That’s why WordPress created tools to help trustworthy commenters get published sooner.
By default every WordPress comment must come from someone with an email account or a WordPress account and you can use both to combat spammers and protect valued readers. If a quality comment is made under a certain email address chances are that they won’t start posting spam in the future so you can set up WordPress to automatically approve any comment from email accounts that have been approved in the past. Just return to Settings > Discussion in your administration panel and choose “Comment author must have a previously approved comment.”
To take things even further you can require users to register a WordPress account to comment. This makes it easier to ban scammers across all WordPress sites but it also makes it harder to comment so your site will go less. It’s up to you to decide which you value you more, more comments or an easier moderation process.
Catching Spam With Filters
Now that you know how to promote legitimate comments lets look at how you can catch comments that look like spam automatically.
Links are the surest sign of spam. Spammers make comments to try and get your readers from your page to theirs or to try and trick Google into thinking that their site is more popular than it actually is. So while not all comments that contain links are spam all spam comments contain links. This is why you can set up a filter that will automatically send comments with links to moderation.
Go to Settings > Discussion and find a box filled with the number 2. All together it should read “Hold a comment in the queue if it contains 2 or more links.” If you want to take a stricter approach set the number to 1 so that any comment with a link in it needs to be approved by you.
Underneath this tool you will find two filter list fields. Both these lists tell WordPress what to look for in comments, so it can spot red flags and take action. The top field under “Comment Moderation” sends comments to moderation while the one under “Comment Blacklist” triggers the automatic spam filter. Think of it in terms of severity, comments that contain items from the “Comment Moderation” filter have a chance to be approved while any comment that matches an item on the “Comment Blacklist” gets automatically deleted.
If you notice that certain things keep appearing in the spam you catch then you can insert them into one of these lists to deal with it automatically. WordPress notes that each line of either list list can contain “content, name, URL, e-mail, or IP” so pay attention to the kind of spam you get and when you notice a common theme add it to a list. Just remember to keep anything too general off the blacklist because it will lead to comments being deleted without a chance for you to review them.
Keeping Your Blog Clean
The important thing to know about spammers is that while they are persistent they tend to go after the easy targets. If you leave your blog wide open it will fill up with spam but every layer of protection you add will drastically cut down on the spam you have to deal with. If you use every tool listed in this guide diligently you will have to deal with just a tiny percent
But while all these options are powerful enough for most bloggers there are even more choices available. One of the things that makes WordPress is great is the selection of tools from WordPress and third-party developers. For Plugins that will provide you with even more Experience you can browse the official plugin Directory and Database. If you want to get the most out of your blog you should familiarize yourself with these resources.
It’s true that spammers are always trying to find a way to spread their material but if you have a WordPress blog you can feel confident that the WordPress team is also working to block spammers at every turn. Your job as a blogger is learning about the tools being offered and putting them to use.
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