If you’ve been running a blog with even a moderate amount of traffic, you know that one of the biggest annoyances that come with it is spam. Whether is comes in comments, trackbacks/pingbacks or fake bot subscriptions, dealing with it can eat up a sizable amount of your precious time.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. If your blog is powered by WordPress, there are several plugins that you can download for free that will virtually eliminate all spam. They also make it very easy to deal with what they’re not sure about by putting them in the moderation queue.
So, here are 4 of the best WordPress plugins I have found for controlling spam. I have all 4 activated in all my WordPress blogs or those I installed for others. They all work differently or target different types of spam.
- Akismet (comment spam): This one is obvious as it come pre-installed with WordPress. You should definitely get an Akismet API key and activate it. If you run a personal or hobby site, the licence and key are free. You can find out how Akismet differentiates between a personal and a commercial licence that you need to pay monthly for here: http://akismet.com/commercial/ Akismet displays the number of comments spam it has blocked on the WordPress admin dashboard. No need to download as it is installed with WordPress by default (but not activated).
- WP-SpamFree (comment spam): As great as Akismet is, it will not catch all comment spam, no single plugin can. That’s why I run WP-SpamFree alongside Akismet on all my WordPress installs. In terms of numbers, it catches an order of magnitude more spam than Akismet. WP-SpamFree also displays its blocked spam comments numbers on the dashboard.
- Sabre (registration spam): This is a more insidious kind of spam but, if your blog is set to let visitors register freely (without needing your approval), you will need to get this kind of spam under control as well. Sabre gives you several choices of obtrusive (like captchas) and unobtrusive (like speed of registration) tests you can choose from to determine if a registration attempt is from a spammer bot or a real human. It is a very flexible plugin and it also displays its numbers on the dashboard.
- Simple Trackback Validation (trackbacks/pingbacks): Trackback spam can be one of the most annoying to deal with and that is why many blogs turn them off (that’s what I did on the pre WordPress versions of my blog). But to me, they are a great way to link between blogs and show your appreciation for other people’s writing. I want to keep trackbacks enabled so I install this plugin to deal with the spam. Unlike the others, it doesn’t show its numbers on the dashboard but you can enable a logging option and the latest 50 trackbacks it considered spam will be listed at the bottom of its settings page. Any trackback it’s not sure about it will move to the regular comment moderation queue.
Download Simple Trackback Validation
As you can see, you can have a fully functional blog, get comments, trackbacks and subscribers to have a real conversation with your readership and keep spam at bay. Try the above plugins and share your thoughts about them here. If you know of others that you consider better, post a comment saying so.
Happy spam-free blogging!
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