I wrote recently about a real challenge I was facing, regarding spam comments here on the blog. Today, I have the answer I need and also a wonderful piece of advice for any of you, who use WordPress and have a spam problem.
My comment spam challenge
As I wrote a couple of days ago, the volume of comment spam here was around 2,500 a day and increasing. Almost all this spam was being successfully caught by the Akismet plugin, however, in with this spam were some legitimate comments from readers. My challenge was the amount of time it took, for me to find legitimate comments, when a reader emailed me to say their comment had not been published. This was made harder, as many would forget to send me the email address they used for their comment, so I had no way to do a quick search.
When I wrote about this challenge, I saw 2 possible solutions:
- Install a 3rd party commenting system, like LiveFyre or Disqus, with everyone needing to register in order to comment.
- Turn blog comments off and have readers respond to the posts via social networks.
In the end, I did neither!
How I cured my comment spam problem (for now)
This morning, for the second day running, I went to my blog to find there were no spam comments in my spam filter. There were also no emails, from people whose comments had not been published. So, no spam comments, yet every legitimate comment went through. Here’s how I did it!
I received a huge amount of feedback from people regarding how to resolve my issue and 5 different people recommended the same simple plugin, which they said would solve the problem in minutes. They were right.
Conditional Capture for WordPress
The plugin is called Conditional Captcha for WordPress.
It works with Akismet, so whenever Akismet identifies a spam comment, it asks the sender to complete a simple captcha (see image.) If they complete it successfully, their comment is accepted. If they don’t, the comment is deleted.
Another thing I like about this plugin, is that unlike other captcha plugins, where everyone has to fill it in, this one is targeted. Unless Akismet thinks you are a spammer, you will never see it. This means it’s as quick and easy to comment here now, as it has always been.
Two additional lessons learned
After writing the blog post asking people for their feedback, two things became very clear, very fast.
The first was no surprise. It seems a lot of people dislike commenting on blogs, which use 3rd party commenting systems. Some, including me, find them unnecessarily confusing. Others dislike the idea of handing their details to a 3rd party Internet start-up or giving them access to their Twitter, Facebook accounts etc – Just to leave a comment. Many also said, they disliked how sites using 3rd party commenting systems often loaded slowly. Speed is a big deal to me, which is why I have dedicated hosting.
The second thing I learned, came as a huge surprise! I was amazed that the majority of people thought it was perfectly fine to simply turn blog comments off and have the conversations about the posts, on social networks instead. I was ready to be attacked for even suggesting this as a possibility, yet it seems people spend so much time on social networks now, that it’s easier for them to comment there, rather than on the actual blog. This was especially the case for those, like me, who usually read blogs on a tablet or phone. I currently get around 80% – 90% of my comments AWAY from this blog.
Best of both worlds
I can now provide you with the best of both worlds. Readers who like to comment here (I’ve had almost 30,000 comments so far) can do so and without any fuss. Those who like to comment on social networks will carry on doing so. I have also been able to save myself a lot of time and frustration, now that comment spam is no longer an issue.
I’m hesitant to recommend anything after using it for just 2 days. However, as I was getting as much blog comment spam in 2 days as many get in a month, I can confirm that Conditional Captcha for WordPress has been extremely accurate and easy to use. This plugin is also free, though ‘d have liked to have been given the option to either buy it or at least donate to the plugin’s creator.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who chimed in with their feedback, suggestions and fixes.
It’s beautifully ironic, that it was you, the reader community, who solved the problem for me.
Photo: Andrew Hyde