Tips for bloggers #10: Dealing with spam on WordPress

A different kind of tip

Dealing with spammy comments on WordPress is not entirely necessary. Most bloggers simply delete them and move on. Therefore, this particular piece of advice is not essential… Still, there is a best practice (in my opinion); and I would like to share my lessons learned with the community.

If you would like to provide any further guidance beyond mine below, please do so – I am merely writing the following as a casual blogger, not as a professional.


Recognizing spam

In some cases, spammy comments on our blogs are immediately recognizable. In fact, you may be wondering why anyone would need help in “recognizing” spam on WordPress.

I’ve come to find that many people are seeking to advertise themselves, their blogs, or their products on our blogs. Some of these attempts are more obvious than others, and I’d like to highlight some of the less obvious ones.

Links in comments

This is something of a gray area.

Often enough, somebody will post a link to their blog in my comments section, and we have to decide whether or not to approve their comments or take other steps.

Spam, pure and simple

If the entirety of their comment is a link to their blog, I consider it spam. It’s beyond reasonable to expect that comments on our blog posts will, in some way, relate to their content. That’s just common courtesy.

Comments that include links

More often, bloggers who want to increase their blogs’ exposure will comment on our blog posts with possibly offhand remarks and insert links to their blog posts. Such comments are very much in the gray zone and require decisions on a case-to-case basis. If you feel that a particular comment is more spam than respectful substance, you’re not obligated to approve it.

On the other hand, bloggers may have entirely legitimate reasons to include links to their posts, which pertain to your content. Also, you may feel comfortable allowing some people to overtly promote their blog posts in their comments to you – perhaps they’re burgeoning bloggers and you want to give them a helping hand.

Nearly empty comments

The funny thing is that a commenter need not include a link to their blog in their comments in order to drive traffic to their blog. That’s because bloggers can link their profiles to their blogs, and when others click on their names in our comment sections, those links take them directly to the commenters’ personal blogs.

On more than occasion, I have noticed comments from bloggers that I’d never interacted with before; and their comments were very fluffy, not at all interesting or engaging. These commenters gave me no indication that they had read my blog posts – their comments could have been posted on any blog post whatsoever.

Curious and cautious, I would click on the links to their blogs to help me come to a decision about these comments; and, on almost every single occasion, I found that those “blogs” were not personal blogs at all. Rather, they were blog-websites full of advertisements. My suspicions were almost always affirmed.

When comments are spam

Sometimes comments do not include links, but they are still spammy and obnoxious. These are usually easy to identify.

Comments as advertisements

I have literally been offered Ukrainian brides and membership to the Illuminati in comments that have been left on my blog, among other absurd ads. To be honest, I find this befuddling because it leads one to believe that there are people who actually fall for these scams… Otherwise, why would anybody bother posting such comments?

Comments as propaganda

Some people have attempted to convince me of their religious and political views in their comments to my blog, posting diatribes and even copy-pasting entire blog posts from their personal blogs into their comments. They’re not trying to make a profit – they’re just trying to push their views on others or gain adherents. Such people are not interested in interacting with other bloggers open-mindedly. Their comments are inherently disrespectful.


Take action against spam

What I’d like to do now is teach you a simple (the simplest?) way to block spammers, thereby sending all of their future comments on your blog directly into the comment “trash” folder.

Click ‘Comments’ on the WordPress backend

Step 1: Click on ‘Comments’

This is easy enough. You’ve probably done it countless times already; and if you haven’t yet, you will: just click on the ‘comments’ link on the left side of your WordPress backend.

Click ‘User Info’ on any comment

Step 2a: Click on ‘User Info’

Now, click on ‘User Info’ on any comment. This is useful for two reasons. First of all, it will give you information about the commenter, including their email address and IP address. Second of all, it will display a very special button for you called ‘Block User’. See below:

Step 2b: Click on ‘Block User’

The comments ‘Trash’ folder

Once you have blocked a particular commenter from commenting on your blog, all of their future comments will automatically go into the comments ‘Trash’ folder.

The beauty of this is that you won’t receive any notifications whatsoever that they have left any comments on your blog – so the spam is stopped. And: in the ‘Trash’ folder on your WordPress backend, you can click on the ‘Bulk Edit’ button, which will allow you to select all of the trashed comments at once to delete. Easy Peasy.

Problem solved.

60 thoughts on “Tips for bloggers #10: Dealing with spam on WordPress”

  1. David, with your IT-advice hat on: is there an easy way to save wp content? (I guess there must be an easier way than copying and pasting every single post onto hard drive folder)? Many thanks,

  2. I’ve had a couple of people post that for $20 they would send traffic to my blog (lol) I am looking for people that want to know me and find relief from my posts. Not just traffic for traffic sake. Thanks for that tip about the block user button. Now I know! Cheers

    1. I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Lance – I totally agree with you!

      What’s the point of traffic for its own sake? I think the primary positive for me has been that we’re more likely to meet interesting people if we interact with more people… But, yes, the percentage of actual friendships I’ve formed on WP, compared to the number of likes and follows is miniscule.

      ❀
      David

  3. As far as I can tell, I only had one “spammer.” It took me three days to catch on, but for three days in a row, he kept saying the same comment—something like “Have a nice day.” Nothing wrong with it but totally inappropriate to the subject matter. I didn’t know what to do so I politely asked him (her?) to stop. (S)he stopped. It may be that simple. Like I say, it doesn’t happen to me often.

    1. You’re nicer than I am, Paul. I don’t have that kind of patience πŸ™‚

      Although… you may very well be right about it being just that simple!

      ❀
      David

  4. I don’t get spam as much as 10-20 likes in under a minute. Some serious speed readers! Pretty sure they just want you to see their blog, but an engaging comment will always lead me there.

  5. The thing about the Illuminati, etc. – with a business model of spamming the world, almost for free, only a tiny fraction of the recipients have to “actually fall for such scams” to make them worth it. Although – idk whether knowing that will do more to restore your faith in human reason, or to add to your sense that human reason is more ambiguous than we like to think.

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