One of the most common things I hear from new WordPress users is, “where are all these spam comments coming from?!” Spam is a real problem in the world of blogging, and it’s particularly noticeable on WordPress. It completely threw me off at first. In researching why WordPress blogs get so many spam comments, I found a couple different answers. Some say spammers find WordPress sites easily because WP is the most popular platform. Also, spammers have started relying on actual people to do the work rather than bots. So really, anyone can visit your blog and write a spammy comment if they want to. The main reason we see more spam on this platform than others is that self-hosted WordPress sites rely on a spam-fighting plugin called Akismet, which needs to be manually activated in order to work. If you don’t have it activated, chances are you’re probably seeing a lot of spam comments. In this post, we’ll talk about how to set up Akismet (spoiler alert – it takes like two seconds) and also how to identify spam in case it does creep into your comment section.
Install Akismet – Spam Protection for WordPress
The first thing I do when setting up WordPress sites for clients is make sure Akismet is installed and activated. The basic version of this plugin is free, but you can contribute $$ if you’d like to. For new WP installations, this plugin is already included – you just have to click Activate, then go to the Akismet settings and get an activation key. Piece of cake. Akismet filters out all of your spam comments so you don’t have to be bothered with them. According to our plugin stats, Akismet has had a 99.25% accuracy rate on our site. Occasionally, spam comments will be set aside in a folder for you to go through. This only happens when Akismet suspects something is spam but it’s necessarily sure. We go through our spam folder every month or so, and sometimes we’ll find a genuine comment that got in there by accident. It’s very rare but sometimes real comments can be mistaken as spam, especially if they include two or more links.
Identify spam comments on your own
So while Akismet is the very best anti-spam plugin out there, we do need to be able to discern whether or not a comment is spammy on the off-chance it sneaks into our inbox. Many spam comments come from readers with email addresses and websites that are basically gibberish. Sometimes we receive comments that seem authentic but really lead to some gimmicky “click here to gain 1 million followers” page. Some of the most common spam comments are from people encouraging you to up your SEO rankings or take advantage of keywords. Red flag, red flag!
Decide what you want to allow on your site
Sometimes comments aren’t necessarily from spammers – they just have very spammy vibes. For example, you might receive comments from bloggers that read, “visit my new blog!” with a link to their site and no reference to your actual blog post. Not cool! As a rule, we don’t really support this kind of blog engagement as it doesn’t have anything to do with community. We also don’t approve comments that are super negative. Thankfully, those are few and far between. This isn’t a place for bad vibes. :)
WordPress users – what has your experience been like with spam comments? We wish there was a permanent solution to this problem, but the internet will always have spammers trying to get traffic to their own websites. Do you use Akismet to filter things out, or do you clean up your comments manually?