You can officially consider this post nothing more than a rant, so if you are not into rants you’re more than free not to like it.
However, I will have to agree with my friend Mitch when he talks about the spam phenomenon on blogs like ours, where one-line comments are sent on a regular basis in the hope of receiving our DoFollow link-love with a human-written comment often praising our blogging skills.
When I started this blog, several months ago, it was very easy to distinguish between a legit comment and a fake one.
Fake comments usually didn’t make any kind of sense, they were a list of meaningless links, or just words carefully crafted to promote some spammy service.
However the late trend – partially because of anti-spam weapons getting more and more advanced – has been to write real comments, often bypassing any anti-spam engine, with the final aim to promote the URL linked to it (and not in the body, mind you, that would trigger all the alarms).
It’s something so subtle you’re often led to think it’s maybe not right to block it in first place, but then you realize, visiting the URL, there’s not much room left for doubt. And in most cases it’s some coupon-related directory (coupons are the trend of 2011 it seems, must be ’cause of the ever-growing popularity of Groupon, shrug).
Single-line comments praising my blogging potential, how my blog helped their life, how I should keep on blogging and how cool is my blog to look at. Something that is supposed to make you go “awww how nice” but really just screams of “let’s try to fool this dude”, really.
I’ll suggest the 3 main methods I use to fight spam on WordPress. And yes, this will be another dissertation about plugins, sorry about that!
Akismet really is your first line of defense.
This awesome WordPress plugin helps you fight automatic spam bots and not-so-subtle human ones in a more than efficient way, making it pretty much essential if you want to be serious about blogging.
What it does is to run each of your comments through a centralized server which runs several tests on it and mark it as “spam” or “ham” (= good to go).
Each “spam” message is put in your spam queue and will wait for your personal move, before being deleted after (I think) 30 days if you leave it there.
Here are some quick statistics on how Akismet affected my blogging experience:
Not much to add, right?
You can start using Akismet from here, you’ll need to register an account there in order to receive an API key, and you will have the chance to choose a plan (according to the commercial or non-commercial nature of your publication).
At that point, just install the WordPress plugin (just search for “Akismet” in the Pludins admin page of your blog, it’s the first result), fill in the API key you obtained and you’ll be good to go.
2. GrowMap Anti-Spambot Plugin
G.A.S.P. is a really smart and relatively new anti-spam plugin using the simple principle (I won’t go into technical details) to put a checkbox in your comment form, asking to confirm you are not a spammer. This checkbox is invisible to bots, therefore they won’t have a chance to post anything on your comments thread.
It works in an ingenious way, and allows you to realize that, if you still get spammy comments, the entire spam-industry is probably a lot less automated than you initially thought and consists of real people writing real comments (kinda shocking, uh?).
I use these two plugins together, they can co-exist without problems and they offer a near-perfect anti-spam experience, even if in the end, you will have to use your real, final weapon of mass spam-struction…
3. Your Brain
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your brain is the final weapon. Thanks to Akismet and G.A.S.P. you will probably get rid of 99% of your blog’s spam, but you won’t get rid of those nasty one-line comments praising your “madskillz”, especially as your blog grows in audience and becomes more popular.
Your brain will be needed to distinguish between something you want to see on your blog and something you’d rather live without, considering its purpose is just to suck link-love out of you. After all, since your blog has such an important role in your social media strategy (or should, anyway), you really want to nurture it in the best way possible, no?
So I am wondering, did you notice a spam increase as well in the latest weeks? Are you using something different to fight it? Do you have a cool method you’d like to share? Let me know, at this point I am very very curious to hear more news.