Unfortunately, spam is an inevitable part of life. We get it in our email every day, and as website administrators and bloggers, we get it in the form of spam comments. Comment spam is created by spambots who crawl the internet looking for forms that they can dump their spam payload and move on to the next.
Spam comments are easy to spot after a while.
1. They have a generic message that doesn’t make any reference to the content in your blog post or page.
2. Instead of names, these ‘commenters’ identify themselves with keywords like ‘online dating’, ‘cheap viagra’ or ‘louis vuitton handbags’.
3. The content of their comment contains links to shopping websites, pharmaceutical websites and other pages that are totally irrelevant to your blog post.
What’s the harm of spam? First of all, it takes up your precious time to sort and clear them (see Randy Glasbergen’s classic comic above). And if you get hit by a spam attack, you’ll be snowed under from thousands of spam comments. Second, if these spam comments get through moderation and actually make it onto the site, you may get penalized in the search rankings.
Therefore, comment spam is a definite problem. In this article, we present 2 quick options for you to stop WordPress spam. Understand how each option works, and then choose 1 (or both) to use on your site.
Akismet is a spam filtering service by the same folks who develop WordPress. In fact, each copy of WordPress comes pre-installed with the Akismet plugin which is how your site talks to the Akismet service.
How it works
Akismet works by analyzing comments as they are submitted to your site. If the comment is determined to be spam, it will automatically be sent to your spam bin where it will be deleted after 30 days. If you do get hit by a spam attack, Akismet will save you potentially hours by automatically filtering the spam comments.
Occasionally Akismet gets it’s filtering wrong and sends legitimate comments to the spam bin. This is an extremely rare occurrence however and has never happened to any of my sites, and I’ve only heard about it from other bloggers.
Akismet is a paid service. They have a free option but they push you towards the paid ones. The paid accounts get priority over free accounts, so if you’re using the free plan you may experience less reliable filtering.
You’ll need a WordPress.com account to use Akismet. WordPress.com is a service like Google.com, except it’s also called WordPress so it’s really confusing. Just remember that a WordPress.com account is NOT the same as the account on your own WordPress site.
To setup Akismet, you have to first sign up for an account. (You can find the free option under Personal plan and dragging the yearly contribution slider to $0.) Once the signup process is complete you’ll receive an API key. Use this API key in your Akismet plugin settings and you’re ready to go.
We have an in-depth tutorial on using Akismet for WordPress in our knowledgebase.
Growmap Anti Spambot plugin
The Growmap Anti Spambot plugin (GASP) is another highly-rated solution to stop WordPress spam. It’s different from Akismet in how it works and also in price – it’s completely free.
How it works
This is a very lightweight solution because your site doesn’t have to do any additional processing to figure out whether the comment is spam or ham. It’s beauty is in its simplicity.
And as spammers get smarter, they may even be able to get around this limitation sometime in the future.
Which Plugin To Use?
At ClickWP we use Akismet and recommend it to all our customers. And yes, we use the free plan and have found it to be reliable with no noticeable degradation of service despite us being cheap.
In my opinion Akismet is enough for most users’ spam filtering needs. But for extra protection that’s lightweight and easy to use, you can also activate the Growmap Anti Spambot plugin on your site.
Between Akismet and GASP, you can’t go wrong. And since both are 2 minute and lightweight solutions, there’s no harm using both if you want.
Do you have any recommendations or advice of your own? Please share them in the comments. Questions welcome too!
P.S. Thanks Growmap for creating an awesome plugin!