This site, like most sites, has struggled with comment spam for a long time. We use the WordPress publishing platform and the most popular WordPress anti-spam plugin (Askimet) did not provide an adequate solution, and resulted in many spam comments making their way through as well as many false positives mistakenly relegated to the spam folder.
We’ve tried many approaches to fight comment spam, from using a handful of different CAPTCHA plugins to routing our traffic through Cloudflare’s DNS, which uses blacklisted IP lists, to using other ‘zero spam’ plugins such as ‘Spam Free WordPress’. Recently, however, we’ve stumbled on a very simple and effective solution that has finally laid this issue to rest for us (at least for the time being). It consists of using THREE FREE WordPress plugins in conjunction with Askimet, and is very attractive in it’s simplicity.
The three plugins are as follows:
1. Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
This plugin (which we will refer to as GASP) works pretty much as would a Captcha filter would. It requires users to simply tick a checkbox before submitting a comment. Very simple first line defense that is both user friendly and, we were surprised to see, enormously effective beyond our wildest expectations.
Those non-automated (or sophisticated) spammers that are able to overcome the first hurdle will now have to contend with Askimet, which will run the comment through and decide whether its spam or not. If Askimet decides that the comment is not spam it will be published. Those comments that it thinks are spam, however, will be processed by the third plugin.
3. Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress
This is a last line of defense intended to prevent Askimet’s false positives. IF and only if Askimet decides that a comment is spam will this plugin kick in, and only those users will be presented with a captcha to complete.
- IF the captcha is NOT successful: the comment will be deleted, it will not enter the spam queue. You will never have to deal with it ever again.
- If the captcha is successful: it will either enter the spam queue, or you could set it to be automatically approved, whatever you prefer.
4. Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker
While the above plugins are extremely effective at eliminating comment spam, this final plugin is designed to eliminate ‘Trackback’ spam, which can be just as annoying.
Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker will do a couple of tests, to see if a trackback is a real or spammy one. For starters, it will check that the IP address of the trackback sender is the same as the IP address of the webserver the trackback URL is referring to, and spam it if they are not the same. This will reveal the overwhelming majority of trackback spam.
But the plugin will also look on the page that is the source of the trackback to see if your URL (that is being trackback-spammed) actually exists in the trackback URL (spammy trackbacks will not actually have this). If not, the trackback spam is junked.
Simple and beautiful, and will save you a lot of time and energy.
So there you have it. A complete WordPress anti spam solution that has worked wonders here at Freewaregenius, and that is simple and free.
The PROS: simple, easy, and – most importantly – effective. Makes your spam folder manageable and unlikely to contain false positives, and you only need to look over it once in a great while. Also, deals with trackback spam.
The CONS: some webmasters might demur at using four different plugins. If that’s a concern you should take heart in the fact that the plugins we recommend in addition to Askimet are fairly lightweight.
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