Blog Comment Spam Stinks. We have 3 ideas to help you stop it.

Posted at October 10, 2011

We went through a period where our WordPress blog was inundated with spam. Thanks to simple measures we took (and every blogger should take), these comments didn’t ever appear to outside readers. More than anything, they were just a big hassle since we had to manually review, disapprove, and block each one.

To end this problem, we tightened up a few things in our comment system. The improvements were swift, drastic, and permanent.

The spam comments we got were kind of funny, actually. Every one of them came from a different (fake) email address, and contained a single sentence of “praise” for our blog. The praise was a little “too” nice, and also contained at least one misspelled word. Every time.

Some of our favorite examples:

  • Pin my tail and call me a donkey, that really hleepd.
  • Information is power and now I’m a ____ing dictaotr.
  • You couldn’t pay me to inogre these posts!
  • I bow down humbly in the prencsee of such greatness.
  • Wow I must consfes you make some very trenchant points.
  • Life is short, and this aitrlce saved valuable time on this Earth.
  • This forum needed shkaing up and you’ve just done that. Great post!
  • This piece was a lifejacket that saved me from drwoinng.
  • Shiver me timbers, them’s some great ifnromation.
  • Yo, that’s what’s up turfthully.

As you can see, the people who wrote these comments have no concept of what we actually discuss here, and they also have a poor grasp of the English language.

That’s because they’re robots. Programmed by shady Website purveyors in another non-English speaking country.

Why Do People Post Spam Comments in the First Place?

A few reasons that someone might be targeting your blog for spam:

  • The spammer wants to get more trackback links back to his Website, thereby increasing its PageRank and overall SEO standing (this is the most common reason).
  • The spammer has identified your site as of high traffic or high value, and thinks that high exposure on your site might help him/her in some way.
  • Your site has poor security and simply provides a soft target for attack.
  • Someone (a competitor, disgruntled customer or member, etc.) has chosen to declare war on your blog in order to make your life more difficult.

Tips to Fight Blog Comment Spam

1. Do not disable comments just because you’re getting spam. This is sometimes the natural emotional response, and it comes out of panic. You certainly could take this drastic measure, but it totally discounts the reason you have a blog. Otherwise, why not just have a Website and not a blog? Blogs are all about 2-way comments. To borrow the sentiment from the Homeland Security Administration, don’t let the terrorists win. We must prevail, we must beat them and show our resolve. You can win this!

2. Make sure you are vetting people before they can post a comment on your blog. Common methods include:

  • Require a login to post comments
  • Use CAPTCHA to require people to type a phrase on the screen before they post (annoying, but effective)
  • Hold all comments in an approval queue, or at least the ones from first-time commenters

3. Use a 3rd-party comment engine like IntenseDebate or Disqus (our favorite). Not only do these tools help you fight spam, but they also offer your readers numerous options to login with Facebook, OpenID, or other authentication systems they probably already use.  (Readers are most likely to post comments if they don’t have to think too hard about logging in!)

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Here are a few other good spam-blocking tips to check out if you are a WordPress user.

What’s the craziest spam situation you’ve ever had on your blog? How did you deal with it?

 

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