How to Avoid Spam in Your Blog Comments

One thing I really appreciate about using WordPress for my website platform is the multitude of time-saving plug-ins available. One plug-in I really appreciate is Akismet.

Akismet recognizes and captures spam comments and isolates them so that you can process them quickly. These comments never show up publicly on your web site. Design and Conquer (this blog) gets hit with more than 125 spam comments every day.

How to Recognize Comment Spam

Sometimes, before I delete the spam, I read a few just for laughs. There are common characteristics in spam aside from lack of writing skill. Here are a few examples from a recent bunch:

I appreciate your wordpress design, where do you download it from?

Hi there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Hey there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

What tips these off as being illegitimate includes:

  • Spam comments will be off-topic and have nothing to do with the content of your blog article.
  • Spam comments will ask for advice or offer advice on topics you don’t deal with.
  • Spam comments will praise you for your amazingness
  • Spam comments will say there’s something wrong with your web site.
  • URLs from spam comments will include well known names of fashion merchandisers such as Nike, Michael Kors or Louis Vuitton, or other well known retailers.

I don’t know why spammers use these tactics or if they are successful overall. I am not that knowledgable about the relationship between spamming and hacking. I do know that spam comments should be deleted regularly, and that approving or replying to any of them is a waste of time at the very least, and is bad for your brand.

Ways to Manage Comments

Because much spam is auto-generated (spam bots), one way to avoid a lot of spam is to use a Captcha. Commenters are required to enter a displayed code in order to submit their comment. This is a type of proof of life where the commenter needs to prove he or she is human.

Allowing spam comments is bad for your brand.

Using comment moderation takes time but is a good idea. A web site administrator acts as moderator and approves comments before they appear publicly. The moderator can also respond to an approved comment. This is the method I use in addition to the Akismet plugin. Comment moderation is available for WordPress, Blogger, and most social media sites. Comment moderation is one tactic for managing your brand. Comment moderation also screens out inappropriate or damaging content.

I recommend not allowing anonymous comments, but requiring a legitimate email address and name. When people can comment anonymously there is no accountability, and they can say anything. Protect your web site by requiring verifiable information about the commenter: a name and email.

Another way to avoid a lot of spam is to close comments on your blog (in WordPress this is done in Settings) and have people go instead to your Facebook or Google+ page to share their thoughts. I know of several bloggers and businesses who are starting to use this tactic.

You can use Disqus or another comment hosting service to screen out illegitimate readers.

Businesses and organizations blog in order to grow influence, increase awareness, to educate and inform their customers and supporters. We want engagement when we blog. We want to know what people find useful and what questions they have that we can help them with. Spam gets in the way of that purpose. Recognizing and minimizing comment spam enables us to engage more effectively with our real readers.

Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and design director at Alvalyn Creative, an independent practice near Thousand Oaks, California. She creates visual branding, publications and books for business, entrepreneurs and authors. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business roadmap program for creative freelancers. Contact her for your visual branding, graphic and digital design needs. Join her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and subscribe to her free monthly newsletter.

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