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Home / Internet / Spam

Debunking Wordpress Comment Spam

By:Danny Wirken


If you are a blogger, you are definitely familiar with those annoying comment spams. Imagine having to delete hundreds (not an exaggeration) of spam each time you log into your account. It is such an irritating task. You have to manually check which comments are spams and then delete them. If there are five or ten, it is fine. But if there are about hundreds or even thousands of them, it is downright exasperating, more so, time consuming. Not only do comment spam clutter up your blog but they also consume hosting space and thus cost you more money to run your blog. Luckily for WordPress users, they are assured of built-in tools and a gamut of WordPress defense plug-ins to combat comment spam.



Comment Spam



If you have an e-mail account, you have surely received “spam” in your e-mail box. Just like you can get spam messages in your inbox, people will leave spam comments on your blog.



A comment spam refers to useless comments to posts on a blog. Spam can be unsolicited commercial message trying to sell you something. Comment spam is immaterial to the content value of the post. It can contain one or more links to other blogs. Comment spammers target search engines. These people try to boost their own websites’ search engine rankings by submitting irrelevant linked blog comments. Spammers use comment spam as a means to gain higher page rank for their sites in Google and in the process be able to sell their sites at higher prices in the future or to attain high rankings in search results for existing sites.



Google pioneered a search engine technique called PageRank. This is a system for ranking web pages and blogs. PageRank relies on the free nature of the web by using its immense link structure as a gauge of an individual’s page value. In essence, what PageRank does is look at the content of a page it indexes, looks at who links to a page and what the link says. Google combines PageRank with advanced text-matching techniques to locate pages or blog posts that are relevant to a search query. This technology catapulted Google to become a popular search engine. Because Google relies heavily on PageRank, unscrupulous people (spammers) resort to “Google Bombing”. A Google bomb happens when a big number of diverse websites link to a page with the same link text to manipulate the ranking of that page for a search term. For example, a spammer might have a site that sells adult toys and wants to be at the top of a search result on Google. To create the effect of a Google bomb, the spammer leaves comments on different sites linking his site with the link text ”adult toys” for Google to see the link once it indexes the site.



Because blogs maintain an open door policy for comments and connectivity, comment spam is inevitable. Comment spam invades a blog through spammers who post nonsense for fun or try to get links to their sites by posting links to their sites everywhere. Another method is by employing automated tools (robots or little Internet programs) that crawl around finding blogs with comments and posting links to online gambling and medications for improving sex prowess (as mentioned above) or extending one’s life.



The Pitiful Time Wasters are examples of comment spammers. They are often kids who search the Internet for casual subjects and then post comments like “Your site sucks”, “I hate you” and a host of other swear words.



Link Needers are people who try all kinds of tricks to get their sites at the top of search engine rankings. They bypass requests for a link to their sites but force one on you.



Comment Spam Robots crawl around the Internet looking for open comments. When they spot one, they hook in and start leaving comments all over the site about what they are offering usually drugs, male enhancements, vitamins, gambling and pornography. Their comment spam typically hits multiple posts throughout the site with the same comment or a varied theme.



Many Internet users, especially newbies are overwhelmed by comment spam. They have to constantly do battle with these nasty comment spammers.



There are solutions, though, to avoid comment spam. WordPress , a free open source blogging platform that is quite flexible and powerful in what it can do includes many built-in tools and a diverse range of other defense plug-ins that can be used to combat comment spam. Comment spam can be manageable. There isn’t any need to forego blogging.



Fighting Comment Spam – WordPress Built-in Tools



Comment spam is a plague that hits almost all blog systems. However, WordPress has a solid comment spam prevention methods built into its core. Most of the filtering out of comment spam is done by these anti-spam features. There is no one perfect method that will protect a blog. Comment spammers employ numerous tactics and constantly change their attack approach thus a user must constantly update his anti-spam tools. Here are some of the default comment spam mechanisms that come with every installation of WordPress.



To prevent spam you can change the number of links in comment posts. Alter the setting for the number of links permitted in a comment. This may help halt comment spammers who include dozens of links in their posts.



Fill out the “common spam Words” list. When a comment contains any of these spam words in its content, author URL, author name or author e-mail, WordPress will hold it in the moderation file.

Included in WordPress is a system called “Comment Blacklist”. This is a list of words totally blacklisted from your blog. If a comment matches a word in the Comment Blacklist, it is erased and there will be no advice alert.



To avoid spam, turn on comment approval where comments would have to be approved by an administrator before they are posted on your blog.



To restrict comments, users are instructed to fill out their names and e-mail before they are permitted to post a comment.



All of the above-mentioned features can be turned on or off or adjusted through the administration panel of your blog.



Combating Comment Spam – WordPress Plug-ins



WordPress does a good job stopping comment spam with its built-in comment spam tools. However, we all know that these relentless spammers work hard at their “job” so you might reckon adding some plug-ins. Here are some excellent WordPress defense plug-ins.



Kitten’s Spaminator has protections against multitude of comments and designate score values to different comments. It holds back response to recognized spammers thus slowing down their networks.



The nofollow attribute is another plug-in used to divest spammers of their page ranks. When Google sees the attribute (rel=”nofollow”) on hyperlinks, comment spam links won’t get any credit when Google rank blogs in their search results.



Akismet (short for Automatic Kismet) is one of the latest anti-spam plug-in which comes highly recommended. Akismet fights off comment spam by out-sourcing the filtration from your blog to the Akismet site. Comment spam remains in its database for 15 days before they are automatically deleted.



The Bad Behavior comment spam plug-in stops robot spammers before they enter a blog. This plug-in prevents spam robots from accessing your blog by comparing the spam to HTTP requests of legitimate users.



Spam Karma 2 filters and controls comment spam that gets through. Each time it catches a spam, it notifies you thru e-mail to inform you that a spam is attacking your blog.



With all these built-in tools and plug-ins (lots more in the pipeline) available, you can respond to WordPress comment spam quickly and the less likely the spammers will attack again.



Go ahead, blog to your heart’s delight. No need to worry.



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