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Self promoting and irrelevant comment spams are all too common on WordPress. Even if you disable comments for a post, you keep receiving spam that takes up database space and slows down loading times. Find out how some changes in settings and a few plugins can reduce unwanted spam on your WordPress website.

Install Plugins

Wp-Ban: This plugin is nifty in that it lets you enter IP addresses you want to blacklist and shows a custom banned message to commenters from that address. It is useful for when a visitor is regularly attacking your website with vulgar comments. But be careful – the plugin prevents other visitors from the banned IP address hosts to view your website as well.

Recaptcha Plugin: The Recaptcha WordPress plugin is foolproof in blocking spamming robots. Anyone that wants to comment will have to enter the words they see in a random graphic. Spam bots cannot see these, so they do not pass this stage. The problem with this plugin is that it may also discourage regular visitors from posting comments, so it is not the last word in anti-spam solutions. It also does not block people that spam manually.

Akismet WordPress Plugin: The Akismet plugin is very powerful and popular. It checks every comment that is submitted to your website and identifies spam. It blocks comments with bad links and spams and gives you reports of dates, comments blocked, accuracy etc. This is a plugin you must most definitely have on your WordPress website.

Change Discussion Settings

Akismet may be blocking spams, but you have to still manually delete them, which can be tedious. Instead, change some discussion settings to have better control over your comment boxes. Head to your admin area, and go to Settings → Discussion. Make the following changes.

  • Moderate comments: For the section that asks you what you want to do “before a comment appears”, you can choose to manually approve each comment before it is published. This option can be tedious however, and slow down discussions if you do not check the comments queue too frequently. A better idea is to let WordPress automatically publish comments by a previously approved author. Choosing this option will send just the first comment of every author to the moderation queue, making your task much easier. Some spammers may post a legit first post and start spamming later, but this technique weeds out many traditional spammers.
  • Close comments on old posts: Spammers will typically target high traffic posts, and you can close comments on posts that are a specific number of days old to deter them from doing so. Select the option to “automatically close comments on articles older than [ x ] days” and fill in the number of days.
  • Send comments with links to moderation queue: Spammers typically use links, so hold any comments that contain at least one link (do this under the “comment moderation” section). The default for WordPress is set at 2 links, but you should reduce it to 1 as many spams contain just a single link.
  • Blacklist spamming IP addresses: If there are some IP addresses that have been targeting your website time and again, you can use the Comment Blacklist section to ban their IP addresses. This sections lets you blacklist commenters based on content, URL, name and email address as well. Be careful with this feature though, as comments here are deleted immediately without notification.

Change Your Comment System

Finally, you can also change your comments system from the Editor to free third-party tools like IntenseDebate or Disquis. These excellent tools work with Akismet to moderate comments and reduce spam. They also host comments on their server, so your WordPress database is not overloaded with spam. They also allow readers to log in easily through Facebook, OpenID, Twitter and/or other social media accounts.

Once you have changed the discussion settings mentioned above and installed some of the plugins, you will find far less spam waiting for you in your spam folder. Keeps your moderation queue moving quickly by checking it often? Also, be careful how you use the blacklist feature. There is nothing more discouraging to legitimate commenter’s than to have their painstakingly written comments deleted because they contain words you have blacklisted without careful thought.