Beyond Akismet: Try This WordPress Plugin to Keep Spammy Comments Off Your Blog

Filed in Blogging by Matt McGee on September 12, 2012 4 Comments

spam-200I hate blog comment spam. Hate it with a passion.

I’m extremely vigilant in deleting comments that don’t add quality to the conversation around my articles and I happily zap things that look like spam, even if they otherwise fit my comment guidelines.

The Akismet plugin does a fine job of blocking obvious comment spam, but it doesn’t catch all of the looks-like-a-real-comment-but-is-really-just-someone-looking-for-a-link comments. You know what I’m talking about — the ones where someone uses a real name and actually writes about 2-3 sentences that’s kinda related to the post? They’re usually fairly complimentary, too, and try to get past my BS filter by praising my writing.

Like this one that came in this afternoon on my small business blog SEO series recap.

comment-referrer

If you just read the comment text, and you see that it’s from someone named Travis (or using that name), it looks like a real comment … and it is.

But the arrow at the bottom reveals Travis’ real motivation: He found my blog by looking at one of those lists of “do follow” blogs — blogs where you can get followed links if you leave a comment. (That was the case about 4-5 years ago, but isn’t now.)

So, while Travis was very kind about my blog series, the reality is that he didn’t find me while looking for blog help; he found me while looking for a source of easy links. So, with apologies to Travis, I didn’t approve that comment.

Your comment notifications don’t include that referrer information at the bottom, unless you’re also using the InComment Referrer plugin. I have zero affiliation with the folks who wrote it, wouldn’t know them from Adam, etc. I just like seeing where commenters came from before they tried leaving a comment.

Note: This plugin isn’t perfect. It only shows a referrer if the person came from a web page. So, a lot of the notification emails show this:

comment-referrer-2

Still … perfect or not … it’s a helpful plugin for learning where your commenters came from and what their real motivations are for leaving a comment. It only works on the comments that get past Akismet and generate an email notification. So, together, they make a good pair of anti-spam WordPress plugins.

(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)

Comments (4)

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  1. Matt:

    This series is so helpful:) Just kidding! And no, I am not the same Travis!

    I personally like to keep my plugins to an absolute minimum so I always try to look for solutions outside of plugins when I can. By using Akismet and tweaking the Discussion settings within WordPress, I get zero spam on my blog. I have the Discussion settings as follows:

    Comment author must have a previously approved comment.

    Hold a comment in the queue if it contains 1 or more links.

    And if you really want to be careful, check this additional Discussion setting:

    An administrator must always approve the comment.

    Travis Van Slooten

    • Matt McGee says:

      Thanks for the great plug-in, Rhys – much appreciated. Phil – glad to hear you’re liking it, too. Travis – that’s pretty much my comment setup, too, except I refuse to moderate every comment. Want people to be able to converse without me having to process everything. I only moderate someone’s first comment.

  2. Phil Rozek says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the intel! Based on your recommendation, I installed the plugin. Works like a charm. Although I generally share Travis’s preference to keep plugins to a bare minimum, I’ve found that InComment has no compatibility or installation issues, and works exactly as you said it would. Thanks again.

  3. Rhys says:

    Hi Matt,

    Just wanted to thank you for featuring my plugin :) – always nice to receive great feedback.

    Like you said though it isn’t perfect – if there was a way of tracking direct referrers I’d like to know – but I find the HTTP referrer sorts out a lot of grey comments (the ones that just spam your site willy nilly are usually easy to spot).

    Thanks again for the coverage!

    Rhys

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