4 Ways to Slash Comment Spam (Before It Kills Your Blog)

4 Ways to Slash Comment Spam (Before It Kills Your Blog)

It’s a Monday morning, and you’re sitting down with your first cup of coffee.

You open up your blog, and you’re excited to see that someone commented on your latest post.

“Fantastic!” you think. “I’m finally starting to get some traction with my site!”

Then you look closer, and you slam your coffee mug down in disgust.

The comment isn’t from an excited, engaged reader who enjoys your writing and wants to join the discussion on your site.

It’s from a spammer.

Yuck.

Comment spam is an annoying, disappointing part of life online.

As your blog grows, comment spam becomes a daily hassle. Dealing with it is a lot like playing an endless, wildly irritating game of Whack-a-Mole. The game never ends, you waste a ton of time, and no one ever wins.

Perhaps it’s time you got yourself a better hammer.

What is Comment Spam (and Who’s Behind It)?

If your blog posts are open for comments, sooner or later you’ll experience comment spam. It often looks something like this:

comment spam
comment spam
comment spam

Comments like these don’t add anything useful to the conversation, so why do they appear at all?

Well, they’re a sleazy way for the commenter to get free links back to their site.

Instead of earning a link by creating valuable content and asking you to link to it, the spammer just leaves a comment containing a link to whatever they want to promote. (Or they just rely on your blog theme to automatically insert a link from the commenter’s name to a URL of their choice.)

Simply put, if a comment looks more like an unsolicited advertisement, it’s probably spam.

Why Untamed Comment Spam Makes You Look Like a Lazy Amateur

Comment spam is certainly annoying, but is it really such a big deal?

Actually, there are numerous reasons you’ll want to ensure comment spam doesn’t remain on your blog, including:

  • Comment spam makes it look like you don’t give a damn about your blog. If your comment area is littered with advertisements, links to porn sites, and other detritus, it makes you look like you’re not taking care of your online home. Frequent comment spam discourages your readers from leaving legitimate comments and makes you look sloppy and careless. Your trust and authority take a big hit, too.
  • Comment spam gives Google a reason to hate you. Including a single dubious link on your site can cause Google to punish your domain. Even if the links are only in your comment area, Google might assume you allow them on other places on your site, and may punish you by ranking you lower on search engine results pages.
  • Comment spam puts your readers in danger. Your readers need to feel your site is a safe place to be.  If a reader clicks on a link in one of your comments and is directed to a malware site that infects her computer with spyware, that reader will lose faith in you and may never return to your site.

So comment spam threatens your blog on multiple fronts, but how can you identify it and annihilate it?

3 Suspiciously Simple Ways to Spot Comments Hiding Evil Intent

How can you tell if a comment is spam or a legitimate attempt to participate in a discussion? After all, it’s in the spammers’ interest to make their comments look as genuine as possible.

In practice, comments tend to fall into three categories.

Some comments are obviously spam. These are the comments that blatantly include links to porn sites, malware, or other undesirable content.

Likewise, some comments are obviously not spam. These are carefully thought-out comments from actual readers, many of whom you may recognize as regulars.

But there’s a third type of comment that lurks in the “gray area” in between.

These comments might seem legitimate on the surface but add little to the conversation. They might say, “Nice post!” or some similar generic platitude.

Often these aren’t the work of professional spammers who use software “robots” to automatically submit their evil comments, but the desperate owners of low-quality sites looking for extra traffic.

You may not want to mark these low-quality comments as spam, but you might want to simply delete or ignore them.

Sometimes you have to rely on gut instinct when deciding how to categorize comments, but here are some questions that can help you evaluate a questionable comment:

  1. Is the comment specific, and is it relevant to the content of the post? Some spammers post ambiguous, benign-sounding praise. If the comment could have been posted under any blog post on any site on the Web, it’s likely spam.
  2. Do the email address and website of the comment look legitimate? If the commenter puts the phrase “cheap NFL jerseys from China” in the name field of the comment form, the comment is spam. If the email address looks like it’s been generated by a computer rather than a human, that’s also a strong indicator of spam.
  3. Is the comment stuffed with keywords? Spam comments are often filled with keywords and keyword phrases, which means the commenter is trying to pick up some SEO points with Google. If the comment reads more like a badly-written advertisement, it’s likely spam. You will often spot keywords like “buy mens shoes online” in the name and comment body fields.

Let’s it face it, though – however good you become at spotting spam comments, trying to knock them down individually, especially when they keep appearing, is time-consuming and frustrating.

As a blogger, you need to find the easiest, most efficient solution for dealing with comment spam. Luckily, you’ve got four great options to solve the problem and escape your comment spam woes.

4 Ways to Declare War on Comment Spam (Without Spending Hours Playing Moderator)

There are four main methods for wiping out comment spam on your blog:

  1. Configure WordPress to minimize comment spam.
  2. Use a third-party comment-hosting platform.
  3. Shift the conversation to social media.
  4. Remove comments from your blog completely.

Let’s look at each of these options in detail, and discuss the pros and cons of each approach.

Option #1: Configure WordPress to Minimize Comment Spam

As the most popular blogging platform in the world, WordPress is particularly attractive to comment spammers. While no platform is completely immune to spam, WordPress bloggers often catch the worst of the comment spam storm.

The good news is, your first line of defense against comment spammers is setting up strong WordPress fortifications.

Here are the steps you can take to strengthen your WordPress platform against comment spam:

Hold comments in moderation until you approve them.

Start by configuring WordPress to send all comments to moderation (which means every comment will be emailed to you for approval before it gets published on your site).

To do this, go to:

  • Settings > Discussion in your WordPress dashboard.
  • Check the boxes next to “Anyone posts a comment” and “A comment is held for moderation” under “E-mail me whenever….”.
  • Then check “Comment must be manually approved” in the section called “Before a comment appears.”

The downside of moderating your comments via email is that your readers won’t see their comments immediately appear on the site after they submit them, which is potentially discouraging for them, and could slow down the conversation.

You’ll also need to spend time handling the emails as you watch over the discussion on your blog, so budget your time appropriately.

Turn off trackbacks.

A trackback is a notification that someone else has linked to one of your posts.

For instance, if another blogger links to your post in his own blog post and decides to send you a trackback, you’ll get a notification in your inbox about it. If you approve the trackback (which works similarly to approving a comment), you’ll then see that trackback in the comment area of your original post. Picture a trackback as a conversation that links two blog posts together.

Unfortunately, trackbacks are often abused and are a frequent cause of comment spam.

To turn them off, go to: Settings > Discussion > Default Article Settings, and uncheck “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).”

The downside to turning them off is that you won’t get notified when other people link back to your site, but the trackback notifications are actually fairly uncommon these days. You probably aren’t losing much in terms of conversation on your blog.

Automatically close comments after 30 to 60 days on all your posts.

You will get most of your valid comments during the first few weeks after you publish a post. If you close comments after that, you’re not likely to lose engagement from real readers.

Comment spammers troll the Web looking for older, popular blog posts to hit, which means the posts in your archive could be targets.

To close comments on every post after a specified number of days, go to: Settings > Discussion > Other Comment Settings. Check the box next to “Automatically close comments on articles older than” and choose 30 or 60 days in the selection box.

Use a spam-blocking plugin.

Plugins that filter out spam comments are easy to set up, and often run without a lot of day-to-day management. You can try Akismet (which is available for individual blog installations for a small fee).

Filtering plugins like Akismet aren’t a spam management panacea, however. They aren’t foolproof, so you will still see the occasional spam comment in your inbox.

Plugins like these also occasionally catch legitimate comments in their filters, so you will need to monitor the “spam comment” section in your WordPress dashboard each week and make sure it hasn’t accidentally caught a remark from one of your favorite readers.

To do that, go to: Comments, then click on the “Spam” tab, and browse through the comments filtered out by Akismet.

comment spam

Any legitimate comment can be marked “not spam” and returned to the good side of the virtual tracks.

Just mark each valid comment as “Not Spam” using the links under each comment:

comment spam

Spam comments can also clog up your backup process, because your backup tool will try to back up your entire library of filtered spam comments, which takes up a ton of space. To avoid backup issues, either set Akismet to automatically delete filtered comments after a specified amount of time, or keep your eye on automated backups and make sure they run without errors.

Anti-Spam and WP SpamShield Anti-Spam are two other popular spam-blocking plugins.

Fortifying WordPress can make it easier to manage spam comments, but if you want to reduce the effort even further, you may want to move to a different approach – moving comments off your blog and onto a third-party comment platform.

Option #2: Use a Third-Party Comment-Hosting Platform

Third-party comment-hosting services (for example, Disqus or LiveFyre) externally host comments posted by users to blog posts or online articles. If you use a service like this, your comments will still appear on your blog posts, even though they’re technically hosted somewhere else.

Let’s look at an example of how this works on a blog.

When a reader wants to publish a comment on a blog that uses LiveFyre, she would see a login screen that looks like this:

comment spam

To leave a comment on this blog, your reader would need to log in using either her LiveFyre account, OpenID, or one of her social networking profiles. Once logged in, she can comment on any blog that uses LiveFyre without needing to log in again.

In a nutshell: A blog comment-hosting service takes the comments completely off your blogging platform (like WordPress or Typepad), and moves those comments to its own servers. In doing so, it runs the comments through powerful filters that cut out the vast majority of spam comments.

Users of comment-hosting services report radically lower levels of comment spam. Very few spam robots make it past the strict sign-up forms required by third-party tools, and their ultra-picky spam filters catch the rest of the bad comments.

Third-party comment-hosting services also:

  • Give you reports on things like user reputations, history, post approval rating, and likes from other users
  • Prompt visitors to read more of your content by using their discovery features
  • Let your users flag spammy or inappropriate comments for themselves

There are downsides to comment-hosting services, however.

Third-party comment forms need to load within your blog posts, which can increase your page load time. You may see a reduction in comments if your readers can’t figure out how to comment using the more complicated login form (or balk at the sign-in requirement).

There is also a degree of risk in hosting your comments on a platform controlled by someone else. If the host’s servers go down, you could temporarily lose comments from your blog – permanently if their whole business winds down. In the future the host might also decide to limit your access to your comments, start charging for certain services, or introduce ads on your blog.

The risks may be small, but whenever you host content (and your comments are valuable content) on a third-party platform, these issues arise.

If you’re interested in using a comment-hosting service, both Disqus or LiveFyre have the following benefits:

  • They are free and easy to install
  • They have highly effective built-in spam filters
  • They allow users to upvote comments they find valuable

Disqus has been around longer, has more users (currently 3.5 million), and has better options for customizing the way comments look on your posts.

LiveFyre has a SocialSync function that pulls in conversations happening on Facebook and Twitter and allows readers to reply to those remarks just like any other comment.

Option #3: Shift the Conversation to Social Media

In March of 2014, Copyblogger shut down comments on its WordPress-powered site, and moved the discussion about its blog posts to Google+ – primarily because the Copyblogger team was wasting so much time dealing with comment spam on their site.

Now, at the end of each Copyblogger post, they link to a Linkedin discussion post about that topic. They invite their readers to go to LinkedIn and participate in that discussion.

The folks at Copyblogger took a lot of heat for moving their comments to social media, but the Copyblogger leadership team says it was the right move for them.

Sonia Simone, Copyblogger’s CMO, says that since the move she spends more time actually participating in conversations with real people, and far less time examining individual comments, trying to figure out if she should approve them or not.

Moving your online discussion to LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+ could eliminate comment spam. By doing so, you’ll attract fewer spam robots, trolls, link-seekers and anonymous rabble-rousers.

If you’re considering moving your blog comments to a social media platform, here are some quick tips:

  • LinkedIn: Create a LinkedIn group, then start a new discussion within your group for each post you publish. Your readers will need to be a member of your group in order to comment on the discussion. Here’s what one of Copyblogger’s recent discussions looks like on LinkedIn:
comment spam
  • Facebook: Create a new update on your blog’s Facebook page to announce your latest blog post, then edit your post in WordPress to add a link at the end to the Facebook update, asking people to comment there.
  • Google+: Create a new public update on your blog’s Google+ page, and link to it at the end of your blog post, directing people to join the discussion on Google+.

There are some disadvantages to moving your comments to a social platform, though.

Visiting a third-party platform like Facebook is an extra step for your readers – they need to click on the link to the social site and log in before they can comment (assuming they’re not already logged in).

Because of this, you may experience a decrease in the overall number of comments you receive. However, you may also pick up some additional traffic and comments from people who discover the conversation via social media, so that could be an advantage.

You also stand the risk of alienating your audience. A year after its decision, Copyblogger is still fielding complaints about its decision.

You also encounter the sharecropping problem once again – directing conversations to a platform you don’t own.

The Copyblogger team came up against this too. They originally moved the discussion to Google+ posts after closing down native comments on their site. But then they switched to LinkedIn, presumably because of the predicted decline of the Google+ social platform.

So make sure you’ve got a backup plan in place to which you can pivot quickly if something happens to your favorite social site.

Option #4: Remove Comments from Your Blog Completely

The final method of battling comment spam is drastic but highly effective – shutting down comments altogether.

If you disable comments on your blog, you will never have to moderate another spam comment, and your comment management time will go down to zero.

This is obviously not an action to be taken lightly, but under certain circumstances it could be worth considering – for instance, if you’re blogging in a niche where even the big sites don’t typically inspire many comments.

Also, switching off comments can temporarily hide a lack of traffic and engagement in the early days of your blog. After all, nothing screams newbie louder than a giant “0 Comments” indicator in the header of every post. Disabling comments buys you time to build your traffic and your email list – you can open your posts to comments when you’ve got a slightly bigger audience.

But if you keep comments turned off, you miss out on the opportunity to build relationships with your readers by listening to their opinions and fielding their questions. Some of the best feedback you’ll ever get from your community happens in your post comments, so you could be missing out if you shut down that conversation completely.

And as with earlier options, you also risk alienating your audience – if you have had open comments on your blog posts for some time, and make the sudden decision to shut them down, you could have some very unhappy constituents.

Finally Escape the Tyranny of Comment Spam

Comments matter. There’s no doubt about it.

But to avoid wasted time and energy, you’ve got to be able to manage them effectively.

Now that you understand the various options, pick one and implement it on your blog.

It’s time to break free of the comment spam blues. Picture this:

You sit down at your computer on a Monday morning with a fresh cup of coffee. You open your inbox and see five new comments waiting for approval.

But instead of feeling annoyed and disappointed, you feel energized and invigorated because this time all of them are legitimate remarks from real people – engaged readers adding thoughtful and insightful discussion to your content.

Your content is enhanced, not diminished, by the comments beneath it.

And this stream of insightful commentary happens week after week, month after month, as your readership continually submits astute, valuable comments on your posts, undiluted by insidious spam.

You get to publish content in a spam-free world.

And isn’t that a world worth fighting for?

About the Author: Beth Hayden is a content marketing expert, author, and speaker who specializes in working with women business owners. Get Beth’s best blogging tip by downloading her free case study, How This Smart Writer Got 600 New Subscribers by Taking One Brave Step.

87 Comments

  1. Walter
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 10:16:32

    Great Post.

    I personally use “Antispam Bee” for all my Blogs. It is free an very reliable. Saved me a lot of time.

    What I liked was the option, to disable comments in the beginning. This is a good tip, so you dont destroy your credibility at the start.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Walter

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:09:54

      Thanks, Walter. Is Antispam Bee a replacement for Akismet? Do you find it works better for you?

      • Neha Patel
        Sep 21, 2015 @ 12:47:40

        hi, Thank you for these insightful tips on how to tackle comment spam.
        Frankly, I’m amazed at the little amount of spam that I get. Quite the opposite. Most people who comment on my blog do their best to attribute to the content, oftentimes leaving comments that are 300 (or more) words long. And I think my blog really benefits from that. I know that many readers read the comments too (sometimes I test that by leaving a link in my replies, and I notice that those links get clicked on), but I also have the impression that Google picks up on the content of the comments too!
        (Sorry for my poor English. I’m Dutch.)

  2. Kevin J. Duncan
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 10:29:24

    Hi Beth,

    Good to see you back here on BBT. 🙂

    Love the comment-spam tips you’ve shared with us here. I have one I’d like to add for evaulating comments: gravatars.

    Sure, it’s not foolproof, but when I receive a questionable comment I often let “do they have a gravatar or not” be the deciding factor. Iffy with no gravatar? Goes in the spam folder. Iffy with gravatar? Unless I’m having a bad day, I usually give the person a pass. 😉

    To your other points, I wholeheartedly agree with your “turn off trackbacks” suggestion. I use the Rainmaker Platform, and that (turning off trackbacks) was one of the first things they recommended. As soon as I turned them off, my spam decreased considerably.

    Automatically closing comments after 60 days is a strategy practiced here at BBT. I haven’t implemented it on my own blog yet, but I know I probably should.

    I know turning off comments is a valid strategy (and one used by Copyblogger and others), but I really hope it never catches on.

    I love comments. I love interacting with lovely, intelligent authors like yourself. I love interacting with other commenters. When comments are turned off, part of what makes a blog “a blog” is lost.

    Anyway, excellent work, Beth. I’ll be tweeting this shortly!

    Enjoy your day!

    -Kevin

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:34:00

      I agree wholeheartedly, Kevin! I think comments are one of the things that make blogs great. I would hate to lose them.

  3. Dan Sumner
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 10:29:26

    Thanks Beth, I hate comment spam it drives me insane. On a previous blog of mine it got so bad I had to install capture and anti spam plugins. The problem with this was real people were getting spammed as well.

    Disqus seems a good way to go to avoid this, but I like the WP comment system.
    It’s a battle 🙂

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:34:48

      A battle indeed, Dan! We have to keep fighting the good fight!

  4. Clement Lim
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 10:31:34

    Hey Beth

    I run a number of blogs and I either get too few comments or too many.

    For my most commented upon blog, I’ve gone the moderation route. This way I can delete spam comments and also comments which may not be spam but do not add anything to the conversation. The comments that I allow raise interesting points and I respond to each one.

    As you say commenters have to wait to see their comment published, but they are almost always delighted to receive a reply from the author.

    I also use Akismet to filter out the bot comment spam. It’s been working very well for me.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:48:32

      Exactly, Clement – I think moderation is so common these days that most comments don’t mind waiting to see their comment appear on a post.

  5. John Yeoman
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 10:37:29

    Yes, comment spam can be a curse, Beth. I use Disqus on my blog posts. It has a nifty filter which catches most spam. (The term ‘essay service’ is a red flag at a story writing site like mine.) That said, it can be cavalier about comments, losing them at times, and is sometimes slow to load. Perhaps one consolation, if we’re beset by comment spam, is to realize that spammers will never get a single worthwhile clickthrough from their drivel. Most site visitors are streetwise enough to to ignore it. That said, it does look a mite amateur if our every comment says ‘LOL! Now let us write your term essay for you.’ 🙂

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:51:03

      An excellent point, John – I’ve always been confused about why there are so many people still trying to get links and traffic via comment spam. Seems to me that it would be a really low return on investment for all that spamming. Why do they keep doing it, if no one is clicking on the links? It’s a mystery to me!

  6. Johnson Emmanuel
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 10:45:39

    Nothing annoys me like spam comments. I have been having ruing battles with some guys now but am definitely going to take action on this ASAP. I will revert a success comment here. Thanks for sharing this GREAT stuff. It was timely for me.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:54:14

      You’re welcome, Johnson! Good luck!

  7. Melissa Chu
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 10:54:14

    Hi Beth,

    Really informative post! I didn’t know that Google punishes your domain if you have spam comments – another reason to not let them through. Like you said, it’s sometimes hard to tell if a comment is spam or not, so I just veer on the side of caution.

    I see that some blogs do remove comments altogether. Besides not dealing with spam, I hear some bloggers feel they can express their thoughts better when comments are turned off.

    One thing though about disallowing trackbacks. Do you think that by doing so, other legitimate sites will feel discouraged from linking to your posts?

    Great post and will be sharing it with others!

    Melissa

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:56:41

      I don’t think so, Melissa.

      I know I don’t link to someone to get a trackback link….I link to that person because they have created a piece of content that is beneficial for my audience. I think plenty of legitimate people will still link to your content, even if you have trackbacks turned off.

      • Melissa Chu
        Sep 10, 2015 @ 14:09:36

        Thanks for the insight Beth.

        I’ve turned off trackbacks as well since many of them are spammy.

  8. Cathy Goodwin
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:16:16

    Lots of useful info here! I got started with Akismet and manually review all comments.

    Your choice of strategy will be influenced by your market and audience. If you’re a blogger, targeting an audience who spends a lot of time online, *and* you’re getting a lot of comments, it makes sense to go with Disqus. People who comment a lot are members of Disqus and feel comfortable using it. But if you’ve got an audience that’s not in the blogging world, you need to make it easy for them to comment.

    That said, the value of comments can be debated. Sometimes you get a ton of shares with few comments and vice versa.

    Sure, comment numbers are a measure of the blog’s engagement. But they’re not always a measure of the blog owner’s financial success. And in some fields, your audience won’t step forward and post a public signed comment; for instance, it’s pulling teeth to get comments or reviews on a career site and some life coaching sites.

    So as always in strategy, “it depends.”

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 22:14:38

      Agreed, Cathy – I think bloggers should try to incorporate comments if they can, but I know there are circumstances under which it just doesn’t work. Every blogger needs to make his or her own call.

  9. Olga ("Allowing Life")
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:26:06

    When you can handle it in a moderation queue and other resources, it’s good.

    When you can’t (your moderation queue contains hundreds or more of them), and your only choice is to move comments other places or close them on older posts completely, there’s one more way:

    thete’s a plugin, Hide-n-Disable-comment-url-field, and then you can use the WordPress Setting Discussion comment spam keywords, and insert there “http” (since comment blacklist words are checked in all fields, and if you don’t hide the url field from comment forms, the good comments will also go to spam) and other words.

    This combination is good because it won’t keep in the moderation queue the spam comments.

    If you wish, I can share my blacklist.

  10. Olga ("Allowing Life")
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:29:47

    Of course, this hiding url solution is a bit or more, discouraging for those who use commenting for promotion, too, that’s why I said – if you can do it the other ways, do it. If your only option is to close comments – then disabling urls will leave at least some option for people to add (probably, most genuine) comments.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 22:18:30

      I see your point, but I would hate to turn off URLs for everyone. It would be shame to punish everyone because we’re trying to cut down on spammers. But you’ve got to do what you have to do!

  11. Ahmad Imran
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:34:58

    Hi Beth, a nice article on an important topic. Solid advice.

    Can I drill into one specific query. I (along with many other bloggers) use Disqus and like it as well. It is a perfect fit for many.

    I appreciate the negatives that you have mentioned with Disqus. The third party hosting and the complication factors.

    My query is about the free-nature of the Disqus system. As my blog is growing, do you know if Disqus has a system where they either start charging you or start showing adverts etc. which are unavoidable ? or is Disqus completely and no-strings-attached free service ?

    I hope you or someone who knows more about this topic will help.

    Cheers again for a nice article and valid points. Thanks.

    • John Yeoman
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:44:11

      Ahmad, I’ve been using Disqus for five years and have never paid for it. It doesn’t run ads on my sites. However, you do have the option of running ads and sharing in the ad revenue. To me, that seems counter-productive. We wreck the integrity of our site for a few dollars of income.

      • Ahmad Imran
        Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:31:48

        John – thanks for the clarification. I don’t know from where but I heard that once your visitor number goes past a certain limit, you will have to show the ads by Disqus no matter what.

        But now you confirmed that this is not the case. thanks.

        I agree with you that showing ads and earning a few dollars (or pounds here in the UK ;)) is not a good idea. You have no control over what is shown on your blog post. So I will not choose that option either.

        Otherwise, Disqus is a great system. I love it.

        My next steps are to investigate two main features of it. 1) further formatting to get it in line with my theme and 2) solid backup process to make sure that my comments are safe no matter what happens with Disqus…

        Thanks again for your feedback.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 22:22:13

      Hi Ahmad – the only thing I’ve heard are some vague-ish rumors that Disqus might be moving toward selling comment data to advertisers, so they can use it for targeted advertising. I wasn’t able to find any hard proof of it before I wrote this article, though, so it might still be something they’re kicking around.

      I don’t love the idea, though….as a publisher, I want my commenters to feel safe saying anything they want, without worrying with Disqus is aggravating that data and selling it to anyone else. The whole idea makes me squeamish.

  12. Jocelyne
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:40:19

    Thank you for that article, very informative.
    I hopped over to my wordpress account and made those changes.
    The obvious spam comments are laughable, but the sneaky ones take up more time because you have to read through more.
    Hopefully, I will have a little less work to do now.
    Thanks again

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 22:37:40

      Yes, exactly, Jocelyn – it’s those “gray area” ones that take up so much time and energy!

  13. Rado
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:41:55

    You miss one more – very efficient – way.

    Some simple captcha.

    As many captcha systems are possible to break by some software (character recognition) the systems are often very difficult – even for humans. (I remember I have to reload captcha several times to really be able to read letters).

    But there are “captcha” systems based on answering easy question that usually only human is able.
    Like “What’s the name of this web?”
    or
    “Type missing part of sentence (number or word) Snow White and the ………….. dwarfs”.

    Almost all humas are able to pass this test and (probably) all spam software fails.

    More dangerous is spamming with the usage of bugs in systems. WordPress is known as not strong secure system and even other systems (Drupal, Joomla,…) are not bulletproof. Spammers usually use security exploit and create comments directly on database level even you allow comments just for authenticated users.
    Then it’s easier to pay for WordPress/Drupal/Joomla/… hosting than to host it on own server and deal with regular updates…
    (But I assume most of you are not using own server for your web.)

    • Rado
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:43:38

      I just forgot to add that there are plenty of plugings for various “captcha” methods…

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 22:40:01

      We debated putting CAPTCHA forms into this article, as a possible spam roadblock, but in the end decided that the annoyance factor of CAPTCHA wasn’t worth it for most bloggers. Do you think you get fewer comments because of your CAPTCHA forms?

      • Rado
        Sep 11, 2015 @ 05:21:06

        Hi.
        My site has very low visit rate and and almost without comments – too narrow niche in ocean of similar webs 🙁

        Anyway, putting the word “seven” to form to complete “Snow White and …… dwarfs” sentence is not the horrible captchas used on many webs that usually discourage people to comment.

        But to be honest I cannot compare “before/after” comments of real human (as I don’t have comments at all) but I removed hundreds of spam comments to zero.

      • Rado
        Sep 11, 2015 @ 05:30:36

        Personally, I refused comment on many webs just because they required my logon to facebook or even create account on Disqus.
        I would rather be willing to reload 3 times unreadable captcha picture than to create account on 3rd party service.

        (Anyway, I still hate unreadable captcha therefore I’m using this my simple question to distinguish humans from automatic scripts.)

      • Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
        Sep 11, 2015 @ 13:03:54

        I had and discarded a Captcha — it was doing the math problem, and I got a lot of complaints about it. Went to the ‘check this box if you’re not a spammer’ option, which seems to work just fine and be less annoying.

        Have to say I’m NOT a fan of Disqus.

        We have had a team discussion about blocking trackbacks…but so far, I’m keeping them. They help me spot sites that are ripping me off (because most of my posts have internal links to other posts on my site, the stolen copy will throw trackbacks to posts of mine, and then I can ask the site to take it down). And they also help me discover who’s mentioning me that I might want to partner with/reward/get to know better. I don’t get so many trackbacks that I find it onerous to sift through those. But the comments situation was ridiculous!

  14. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:59:46

    This is a timely post for me — after much consideration, I recently went to the option of closing comments after 60 days. I find that spammers like to cruise old, old posts to throw junk comments onto, in hopes that you won’t notice. (Perhaps they’re unaware they all appear together in our WordPress dashboards?)

    Anyway…I can’t BUH-LIEVE how much less time I’m wasting reading and evaluating comments on these older posts, at least 75% of which were junk. I’m also hoping this drives more real conversation on the current posts, when others are no longer open for comment.

    I feel sad that I can’t leave some of my popular older posts open for the occasional newbie to my blog who might be leaving a real comment, and that I’m missing that chance to reply and connect with them.

    But I think it serves my audience better to be busy creating more valuable content and trainings for them than sitting around researching whether a comment is spam or not…and as Sonia Simone said when Copyblogger killed their comments, it’s getting harder and harder to tell.

    • Kevin J. Duncan
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:30:09

      Hi Carol,

      Kudos for taking the plunge and clicking the option to close comments after 60 days. As I mentioned in my comment above to Beth, this is something I know I probably should do but haven’t done quite yet.

      The reason I haven’t done it yet is the one you touched on at the end of your comment: Every few days, an old post of mine receive a legitimate comment from someone new to Be A Better Blogger.

      That connection we make when someone comments for the first time is invaluable. It’s the moment a lurker or passerby decides, “Hey… I liked this post so much I’m going to stop and comment.” And then we have the opportunity to reply, visit their blogs, connect with them on Twitter, etc.

      It’s those first comments where many of my devoted readers are born — I just can’t bare the thought of missing those opportunities.

      On the other hand… I hate spam.

      Hence my confusion. 🙂

      • Geoff
        Sep 13, 2015 @ 23:21:07

        Hey Kevin,

        I think your reasoning for keeping comments open indefinitely is very valid. I haven’t started my own blog (yet), but I’m an avid blog troll myself and I regularly leave comments on blog posts I enjoyed, very often these are old posts. It would depend for sure on how often your older posts receive comments. However, if you’re receiving comments on old posts, even just a few a week, I think this is a great reason to keep them open.

        As a regular browser of archives I for one am always grateful to be able to leave a comment on a centuries old post and show my appreciation for the author. I’ve no doubt I will share the same enjoyment when I have an archive of my own posts for readers to sift through… (I am running out of excuses not to start my own blog!)

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 23:05:30

      Interesting, Carol! Thanks for chiming and letting us know this technique has been helpful for you….in my research, people were saying that it worked, but I didn’t have any case studies to back it up. Now I know! And I’m glad it’s working for you.

  15. Jevon
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:48:58

    I’m having this exact problem, and I’ve been experimenting with different methods like spam blockers.

    I’m not too fond of moving to social media, and when I tried a third-party comment-hosting platform like Disqus, I was having trouble migrating my previous comments to it, plus I wasn’t getting the option to comment as a guest like I saw on other sites.

    So I settled with installing Akismet, but I still have to configure it, which is taking much longer than I thought.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 23:45:38

      Sounds like steps in the right direction, Jevon – let us know how it works for you!

  16. Andrew
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:54:37

    Hey Beth,

    Great post here. Thing is, many people look and think that because it’s a comment, they rather keep it because it shows social proof.

    But if it has nothing to do with the post at all, then it’s just spam.

    I hate spam comments and really don’t like approving anything that looks like it.

    Great tips here to aide in preventing spam comments on our blogs.

    Congrats on being back on here again.

    – Andrew

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 23:46:29

      Thanks, Andrew! I’m delighted to be back!

  17. Linda Schrier
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 13:19:52

    Hi Beth,

    We all dislike spam and the spammers are getting smarter. Their new game is using CommentLuv link on your comments section. You can tell its spam by their e-mail address and site location. You can also tell by what they write and they use old posts to comment on. I just felt you should be aware of this new spam method.

    Thank you for sharing, Beth

    You have a wonderful day and weekend ahead!

    • Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 13:23:25

      I use CommentLuv as well, and sometimes when people try to stuff an unrelated, obvious spam link onto there, I just click “remove Luv” and take their link off. 😉 You CAN remove that without removing the whole comment.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 23:47:39

      Thanks for letting me know, Linda. Sneaky spammer always seem to find new ways to annoy. 🙁

  18. Ramona
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 13:53:27

    1. I use Akismet. It helps A LOT.
    2. all new commenters are held in moderation, all comments with links in them are moderated. After a commenter gets the comment approved, he won’t be moderated again.
    3. I do allow trackbacks. Didn’t have spam from them in 8 years of blogging, so they’re OK for me.
    4. I just use the regular WordPress comment system (nothing third-party), it does a great job.
    5. All comments are allowed, even from 8 year old articles. As long as the comment is relevant to the discussion, I love letting people have their say. Not to mention that getting some of my ‘evergreens’ back into spotlight can only help my blog.

    With these settings I never had to battle comment spam, it takes me probably 2 minutes every few days to just remove few of the spam comments that remain.

    I have also started banning certain IP classes (from countries that don’t send anything but spam) and it’s all working better.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 23:49:53

      Sounds like you have a system in place that works for you, Ramona! Great work!

  19. Mi Muba
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 14:00:13

    Hi Beth

    Very detailed post on one of the important topics related to blog comment management. Actually people take blog commenting simply a discussion or a way to build a blog community or to get higher rank in Google.

    Technically speaking blog commenting has far beyond the limited scope as generally conceived by the people. I don’t have any reluctance to say that one day big blogs have separate comment management section or department to professionally deal with this aspect of blogging.

    Blog commenting is one of the fairest metrics to know how blog is going on and how people are responding to its contents. Secondly it is the best way to know what people are thinking about one’s blog and what they still need more so. That is why I said above that blog commenting must not be seen with a limited vision.

    Every communication process has certain kind of disturbances and in blog commenting spamming is the biggest noise that must be dealt with very strictly and professionally as well.

    You gave a very technical definition of comment spam though it could be a little broader as we can see there is rate race blogosphere to be in commenting section of every popular blog with very hackneyed phrases like wonderful post and thanks for sharing kind of boring, colorless and dumb remarks. But it is equally right that there is no technical benchmark to point out such intellectually spam comments that is why many experts have taken the lenient view on this topic and leave to each blogger to decide which comment to approve and which one to be junked.

    Overall your post covered all the main tips and tricks that possibly can be applied without much philosophical approach and this is called pragmatism in doing things very well and meaningfully.

    I am sure this post is going to be a great help to those who spend most of their time to what to do and what not to do while managing comments on their blog.

    I can’t agree more and must appreciate your hard work and extensive research to sum up this post with very relevant and viable points.

    Have a great day

  20. Diane | An Extraordinary Day
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 15:43:01

    Beth… I had Akismet installed, but it still required my time. Time I didn’t want to give up. So I did more research and discovered the plugin – WP SpamShield Anti-Spam which you mentioned. I LOVE it! Seriously when it comes to comment spam it’s crickets with this plugin. They do issue frequent updates… sometimes weekly… but it is amazing. And as one who will leave comments on other blogs… I have not been fond of Disqus…. especially since I never remembered my password or whatever was required on the occasional time I found it on another blog.

    Great post!!!

    • Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 16:32:42

      Same — but it was not catching nearly all of it.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 00:33:58

      Good to know, Diane – I may end up switching to SpamShield for my own blog!

  21. Radovan
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 15:48:41

    Hey guys, and what do you thing about answering to people, who are just bitching around and hate? I cant figure this out :-/ Thanks for opinion 🙂

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 00:11:46

      Do you mean people who are complaining in your comments? Or do you mean something else? If it’s just non-constructive complaining, I would consider deleting the comment. But it’s your call about whether or not the comment actually adds anything to the conversation.

  22. Alicia Rades
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 17:07:47

    Great tips, Beth.

    I personally like to comment right on the post, but I can see where CopyBlogger was coming from consider they have such a HUGE audience and likely an impressive amount of spam. I do really like the idea of a LinkedIn discussion so that the comments are all organized.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 00:25:03

      Yeah, it seems to be working fairly well for them, the CB leadership is very happy.

  23. Kith
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 00:00:15

    Yeah that’s why we moved to Facebook comment box 🙂

  24. Linda
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 02:25:45

    HI,
    Great article, I must admit, I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one getting spam comments that leads to disgusting porn sites, I was starting to think “what am I writing in my blog that would encourage this?”
    Interestingly enough there was a Discussion on Disqus the other day about whether bloggers should keep comments, because it seems less and less people are starting to leave comments. (But never on BBT)
    I don’t know what she uses, but at the end of the comments block on Henneke Duistermaat’s blog (enchanting marketing) there’s just a small block that says you must confirm your not a robot – I like that one. Clicking once just to check the block, no funny CAPTCHA or anything. (I do sometimes forget to confirm that I’m not a robot, but then it just tells me I forgot to confirm I’m not one) – I’m not sure if it helps to keep spam to a minimum, think we must ask her.
    I’ve also made some bad choices with some comments, approved one (that looked legit) and just after that I started receiving the same comment over and over until I flagged it as spam. Another time I approved a comment, but never answered (being paranoid about spam at that stage) and it wasn’t.
    Thanks for great article
    PS: I did use some advice and changed some more settings in WordPress

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 14, 2015 @ 00:33:20

      I’ll have to ask her what she’s using, Linda – thanks for the suggestion.

      • Linda
        Sep 14, 2015 @ 01:51:14

        When you do, please do remember to tell us too.
        Have an awesome day.

      • ioana
        Sep 15, 2015 @ 16:07:37

        I’d be interested in that plugin too, CAPTCHA are extremely annoying.
        Thanks for the article, I have to start a blog and it seems that moderating all comments might be the best solution. Apart from personally loathing Disqus, I think its disadvantages far outweigh the benefits for a small blog, though I’m sure it’s much more useful for large websites…

  25. Rajkaran Singh
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 06:06:14

    Hi Beth
    Great article. Thanks for sharing. I did my settings as you suggested to turn off trackbacks. That’s really useful. Though I have to do a lot to build traffic, I don’t want to turn off comments. I find Akismet very helpful.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 20:35:00

      You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

  26. Heather
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 06:15:33

    Hi Beth,
    Timely post for me. My blog is fairly new and hasn’t been getting many comments yet (slowly, slowly and all that). However, one of the comments that came in this morning was clearly written by a human but could have been written on any of my posts. No gravatar, used a pathetic link in CommentLuv (I removed it without moving their entire comment). However, I did approve it but now you’ve made me think perhaps that was a mistake?

    I have gone through your points and implemented a few of them as I read – thank you!

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 14, 2015 @ 00:48:54

      Sometimes it’s tough to tell, Heather – you’ve got to use your best judgement and learn as you go.

  27. Alexandra Campbell
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 08:12:00

    A useful and timely post – I hadn’t thought of disabling comments after 30 days and now realise that almost all comments left after this time are definitely spam. And I have Akismet. I’ve often wondered if I should approve ‘trackbacks’ – I only do so if I know the site. I would like to share this ‘with my peeps’ as Jon suggests as it’s excellent info, but I can’t see any ‘share this on….’ options. It always seems too much trouble to copy the link, call up my Twitter feed or Hootsuite account, log in, then paste it in – am I missing something here? Best way of sharing? Am I not seeing buttons? Thanks.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 14, 2015 @ 00:51:20

      Hi Alexandra – Thanks for offering to share this post with your folks! The easiest way is to use the social sharing buttons on the far left side of this page (you’ll see options for Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, etc.) Let me know if you have questions. Thanks again!

  28. Carolus
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 18:54:39

    “I found your post very good written and appealing, love your work, I’m glad there is somebody like you writing about the things that really matters…” -yeah, seen these many times.
    Personally don’t like disqus, it became actually another social platform, which prefers you’d login to them via another social platform like FB, yuck.
    There’s another aspect for you to think whether you should have comments turned on or off – it may damage your SEO efforts. If you’ve been writing your post for a particular keyword(s), additional content may damage your keyword density. But – there’s always but, I saw posts appearing in ggl for unexpected keywords, because of comments.
    So:
    I found your post very good written and appealing, thank you and keep up great work :)”

  29. donna
    Sep 12, 2015 @ 05:46:39

    Hi Beth, I learned so much this morning from your teachings of comments. I will have to go back to my sites and implement what you shared. Thank you for the tips.

    • Beth Hayden
      Sep 13, 2015 @ 22:11:07

      You’re welcome, Donna!

  30. Terungwa Akaahan
    Sep 12, 2015 @ 07:32:20

    Hi Beth,

    Awesome article – and straightforward advice on dealing with spammers who are intent on ruining our days with comment moderation 🙂

    Personally, I tried all the options in the book – many of which you have listed here (what I didn’t consider however was moving comments to another platform – like CopyBlogger or closing them down completely like Seth Godin). I wanted to host my own comments and at the same time, valued my readers too much to miss their comments 🙂

    I found something curious in the process however: almost all the spam I was handling (200+ a day) was coming from old articles…articles that were over a year and which were hardly attracting new, meaningful comments!

    Again, I faced a challenge: sometimes, genuine comments landed in spam too and trashing all the 200+ (sometimes, 500) spam comments without checking them out for false positives was a bad option. However, checking up everything was draining me of energy!

    I made my decision: I CLOSED COMMENTS ON ARTICLES MORE THAN 90 DAYS…and this has so far worked like mad!

    Do enjoy the day…presently, I don’t see a simple spam comment for a whole week when things get lucky. A bad day now means 5 (or less) comments.

    Always,
    Akaahan Terungwa

  31. Beth Hayden
    Sep 13, 2015 @ 22:12:05

    That’s great news, Akaahan! So glad to hear it!

  32. Mairaj
    Sep 14, 2015 @ 03:59:48

    Hi Beth,

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing post which contains lucid information regarding spam comments. Well Mostly newbie’s are unfamiliar with these kind of comments and they don’t even know the negative impact and the drawbacks of spam comments.

    Basically these comments are posted from different websites or blogs automatically with the help of numerous softwares. They actually targeted the high traffic websites. These are full of unnatural hyperlinks which is irrelevant to your niche and create a lot of problems for bloggers.

    Due to this most of the bloggers don’t have any idea that which comment they allow and which have to be deleted they accept all. By doing this they increase the database size which put very negative impact on their blogs loading time.

    So, think number of times while accepting the comments. Because such comments destroy your whole effort within a minute.

    Thanks for sharing such a fantastic sharing 🙂

    Regard’s

    Mairaj

  33. sunny mama
    Sep 14, 2015 @ 11:42:45

    Thank you for these insightful tips on how to tackle comment spam.
    Frankly, I’m amazed at the little amount of spam that I get. Quite the opposite. Most people who comment on my blog do their best to attribute to the content, oftentimes leaving comments that are 300 (or more) words long. And I think my blog really benefits from that. I know that many readers read the comments too (sometimes I test that by leaving a link in my replies, and I notice that those links get clicked on), but I also have the impression that Google picks up on the content of the comments too!
    (Sorry for my poor English. I’m Dutch.)

  34. Kayla @ Five Figure Writer
    Sep 14, 2015 @ 18:20:45

    These are great tips, most of which I followed when my site started getting lots of spam comments a few months ago. Installing a plugin to my wordpress site really cut down on the issue and I only have an occasional comment slip through now that I have to manually delete.

  35. Philip Verghese Ariel
    Sep 15, 2015 @ 14:45:44

    Hi Beth,
    It’s indeed a timely piece!
    I was really struggle with this menace!
    Though I use Akismet still its a big problem to check out daily and to delete one page after another, since there are some wonderful comments land into the spam box!
    Most often if one is not using their gravator pic it is more difficult to find the real one!
    This post is really a great help to curtail the flow of spam comments on our pages.
    Thank you so much for sharing this educative post.
    I just shared this with a note on Growthhawkers dot com pages.
    May you have a great and profitable week ahead
    Keep sharing
    Best Regards
    ~ Philip

  36. Benjamin
    Sep 16, 2015 @ 05:42:52

    Yeah Akismet is a great plugin for wordpress for blocking spam, works really well.

    It’s actually kind of sad that people post spam on other blogs just to get clicks to their website. They should engage in the conversation and provide a comment that is relevant to the blog post.

    And thank you so much for this blog! It has so many wonderful posts with a great amount of key information.

    I will definitely share this post on twitter! 🙂

  37. Transport George | Onehalf AU
    Sep 25, 2015 @ 11:56:52

    I used Akismet to control the spam comments in my blog. The only downside of this anti-spam tool is it also mark some of the legitimate comments in my site as spam.

  38. varun
    Oct 05, 2015 @ 05:47:20

    Usually i used to block comments on my block to avoid spam comments and to reduce the work burden to moderate comments.But with time i came to know that blocking comments means closing one form of interaction with blog visitors.
    Instead of blocking comments on a blog,using third party commenting system like disqus or livefyre is really useful..
    thanks for covering the great article on comment spam

  39. Devidasan SD
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 17:46:15

    I don’t think closing comments is not a good solution, even if the article is older than 30 days.

    There maybe readers who want more or specific information on that topic. Sometimes they just want to inform us that the information we provided is outdated. I have seen many people not updating their articles periodically and there is no way to say tell them that. There is nothing misguiding than an outdated article.

    So it is better not to close comments if you write so many tutorials on your blog.

    The good news is Akismet work well with any type of Blog. But you have to check your spam folder periodically.

    • Devidasan SD
      Oct 07, 2015 @ 17:48:19

      Sorry typo error. “I don’t think closing comments is a good solution,”

    • Beth Hayden
      Oct 07, 2015 @ 18:49:00

      Hi, Devidasan – yes, Akismet does work well, but it has its limits. So if bloggers are still getting a lot of spam even after putting Akismet in place, one of the other options might be a better choice (including possibly shutting down comments after a certain amount of time passes). Everyone has to find his or her own right path.

  40. Mary
    Oct 08, 2015 @ 12:01:56

    Thank you Beth for nice article.
    A lot of very useful informations…
    Regards
    Mary

  41. Daniel Gibson
    Oct 17, 2015 @ 21:26:01

    Beth, thanks for this. Just plus one’d it.

    I’ve got one of the plugins you suggest… WP-Smamshield. 251 spam comments blocked in eight months. It also handles my Contact Form. All free.

    My only gripe with it is that to check who it’s blocking you have to enable a log – fine, but after seven days the log must be re-enabled, and if you forget to do it, as I often do, then there is no way to see who and what is being blocked. Not until you enable it again. Bad flaw, imo.

    Just thought your readers might want to know before making their choice on what to do about the dreaded tinned meat.

    • Beth Hayden
      Oct 17, 2015 @ 22:22:18

      Interesting, Daniel! Thanks for reporting this, I appreciate it. Bummer about the design flaw….sounds like something that needs to be addressed. Best of luck in your spam battles! 🙂

  42. Elise Xavier
    Oct 30, 2015 @ 23:17:51

    I can’t even imagine my life without Akismet. I mean really – if plugins like this did not exist, I most certainly would never leave comments open – not even for a week!

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