Stopping Manual WordPress Comment Spam – 5 Ways to Help
In order to stop automated spam in your comment section, you have a wide range of plugins at your disposal.
But most of those plugins can’t help you when it comes to manual spam – i.e. actual people taking the time to visit your site to leave links in your comments.
Below we’ll go over five ways that can help combat manual comment spam. Actually, we’ll throw in a bonus sixth way that can help too.
1. Make Users Register
One thing that may help is to make users register. Many drive-by spammers will not want to go to the trouble of registering in order to leave a quick spam comment.
Go to Settings > Discussion > Other comment settings and check the box to make users register.
Of course there are bots that can attempt to register at your site, and while some may be successful, others will not. So even if some use automated software for registrations, it still puts up a wall that will work at least some of the time.
The other thing to consider, of course, is your non-spamming visitors. Some of them may just go away too if they’re forced to register. And so you’ll need to make a judgment call if going for this option.
2. Close Comments on Older Posts
Go to Settings > Discussion > Other comment settings and check the box to close comments on older articles.
Not all, of course, but lots of spammers like to leave links on pages at least somewhat related to whatever it is they’re trying to promote. You may have posts that fit that bill, but when you close comments down after X-amount of days, then the possibility of having comments open on such a post shrinks dramatically.
If you close comments after 14 days, and a spammer finds a post from two months ago via search, the comments on that post will be closed by the time they arrive.
Of course this method, once again, may have a negative impact on non-spamming visitors. Some may want to leave comments on older posts. That said, most older posts tend not get many comments. People see that the post has some age, and the flow of initial comments has either slowed considerably or stopped altogether.
If you like this method but worry about closing down comments to genuine visitors, you could extend the time allowed for comments.
3. Hold Comments with Links
This setting lets you hold comments with X-amount of links in the body of the comment.
Go to Settings > Discussion > Comment Moderation and set the number of links you’d like to allow.
You can decide how many links should trigger a hold here. The default is set for 2, but of course you could change that to 1.
Changing it to 0 will hold all comments.
4. Remove URL Field from Comments
This solution will let you remove the URL field from the comments section.
You can add this code to your functions.php file. (Appearance > Editor > Theme Functions – functions.com)
This will take the link box completely out of the equation in the comments section.
5. Disable HTML in the Comments
This solution will strip out any links in the comment field completely.
By default, WordPress allows both “built links” or “raw links” to go live in the comments section. This solution reverses that.
Add this code to your functions.php file. (Appearance > Editor > Theme Functions – functions.com)
And here you can see a before and after – live links on the left, and then what it looks like after adding the code.
Thanks to Jothi Kannan on StackOverflow for this.
Another solution is to force users to use their Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress.com accounts to comment. Of course someone could create fake accounts at these places, but that’s not the normal route for spammers. They mostly rely on sites allowing anyone who comes along to comment without registration anywhere.
The good news is that most legitimate users will already have accounts with at least one of these places, and so it doesn’t really put them out. Of course some may not want to use their accounts at these other places to comment on your site, and so that’s something you’ll have to consider with this solution. But many will consider it a convenience.
You can achieve this with a plugin like WPMU DEV’s very own Comments Plus plugin.
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