How to Fight Spam on a Self-Hosted WordPress Site
Whether you use WordPress as a blog or have customized one of their numerous templates to use as a website, spam can be a real hassle to deal with. We all are familiar with the traditional spam-like sales calls, pointless emails and letters in the mail that do nothing but waste our time. In the virtual word, spam has taken on a new identity. WordPress spam typically comes in the form as a comment on a blog post or any page that allows. There are many tactics that can be used, mostly in the form of plugins, which will greatly reduce the spam that your site receives.
Spam can come in many forms and from many sources. The most common source of spam are “bots” or computer programs that quickly scan pages, posting or commenting wherever they can. Usually these “bots” supply a link or a destination in the hopes that you will click on it. Spam can also come from an actual person sitting at a computer, manually inputting information and links that are malicious. There are various kinds of content behind these links, but nonetheless should be avoided.
Here are a few WordPress plugins that may help with spam issues:
Akismet: This plugin is a great starting point to filter spam. Akismet will automatically detect and weed out spam comments for you. If spam does manage to slip by, can mark it as spam, and Akismet will “learn” or store the data provided to prevent future intrusions. When signing up for Akismet, choose personal blog. You will see a donation price range from $0 - $120. When entering your information, slide the bar to $0 and continue if you do not wish to donate. You will then receive your Akismet Key and be able to use the plugin.
Captcha: This plugin creates a security checkpoint where users need to fill in quirky and distorted characters in order to submit a comment or email. Although this can sometimes be a hassle, it is a great method for blocking spam. The “bots” today have evolved and are able to decipher some captcha codes. There are various types of captcha forms; some can be very difficult for viewers to decipher and may steer them away from leaving a real and honest comment. Even though some spam can get around these checkpoints, captcha will prevent a large amount from getting through. If the spam is generated by an actual person, this plugin will not do much to prevent them from posting. (User or human generated spam is typically the hardest to prevent and must be manually marked as spam.)
Cookies for Comments: “This plugin adds a stylesheet or image to your blog’s html source code. When a browser loads that stylesheet or image, a cookie is dropped. If that user then leaves a comment, the cookie is checked. If it doesn’t exist, the comment is marked as spam. The plugin can also check how long it took a user to enter a comment.”
It should typically take a person 20-45 seconds to fill out a form, depending on the information asked of them. Spam bots can fill out forms in seconds, as they are preloaded with information that needs to be supplied when prompted. If the fields are entered too fast and the comment is sent, it is marked as spam.
These are 3 very useful and effective methods for blocking spam on your WordPress site. These plugins help to decrease the amount of spam we are forced to weed through manually, which frees up more time for us to conduct business! We will never fully be able to rid our sites from spam, but being able to prevent and block a majority of it is vital in keeping not only you, but also your viewers, safe from malware.
Do you use a different plugin to protect your WordPress site from spam? Post it in the comments!