05 Dec

Guide to Spotting Comment Spam in WordPress

If you have your own blog, it is likely that up to now you’ve already encountered a lot of spam. The more popular the blog becomes, it is more likely to get spammed. Luckily, a set of way to deal with spam has developed over the years. In this article, we will share some of the most valuable tips, and WordPress plugins to combat comment spam in WordPress.

Before we go into detail, let’s see what can serve as a spam channel. There are three basic ways spam reaches your blog – through comments, pingbacks and trackbacks.

Comments – Comments are created when someone uses the comment form on your blog post to engage with your content.

Pingbacks – Pingbacks are automatically created when someone links to your blog post from one of their blog posts.

Trackbacks – Trackbacks are manual notifications by one blogger that they have linked to your blog post within theirs. Pingbacks were created to automate this process.

Currently, WordPress refers to Trackbacks and Pingbacks as Pings when you attempt to filter your comments, and we advise you to keep an eye on all of those three.

How can we know if a comment on your blog is spam or legit? Some blog owners will read every comment and consider it legit if the comment shows that the reader actually read the post. Other blog owners will dismiss a comment as spam based on the fact that the link does not match the same industry as their blog.

If you are not sure whether the author of the comment is legit or not, check if they’ve been using one or several email/website addresses. But if you see someone commenting with the email address of email@email.com, then chances are, it’s not a legit email address. We advise you to not approve of comments from people that are obviously using fake identities.

Another way to check the comment is to simply copy and paste comments you receive and google them – you might find they’ve been used word for word on many other websites.

When it comes to trackback spam, sometimes you just have to check out the link the trackback originates from. Some websites will add several links to blog posts at the end of theirs simply to get the trackback from those blogs. If you don’t feel the actual blog author linked to your blog post for a good reason (such as they liked your post), then don’t approve it.

There are plugins such as Akismet, G.A.S.P. and CommentLuv that can help you reduce spam comments, so we suggest you definitely check those out.
As for dealing with pingbacks, you should bear in mind that the URL field in the comment form attracts not only spammers (both automated and human) but it also invites people who have absolutely no interest in the discussion at all. By removing the URL field from comment form will discourage this kind of behavior on your website. See the WP guide on how to remove URL field from WordPress comment form.
Also, note that a big portion of comment spam goes down to trackbacks. You can choose to disable trackbacks on your entire blog, or in an individual post. This can prevent comment spam and it is very easy to do so.

Do you have your own strategies of dealing with spam? Let us know in comments!

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