When Blog Comments Suck
For a long time I have tried to reduce spam comments on my blog because I just got to the stage where I dreaded logging in to check my comments. This aspect of looking after my site was taking away all the pleasure I once took in blogging.
Moderating comments became such a waste of time; here are just some of my rants:
- People who just say “Awesome post” or some such rubbish. I'm not naive enough to imagine that my posts are awesome. If only, LOL. Perhaps these are just newbie bloggers who really haven't a clue about blog commenting.
- Little better – the pointless “I really enjoyed your post about ‘keyword' – do keep it up” type. I've moaned about this before. All they want is a link from my site to theirs. Now if it were a site I wanted to link to….. fine …. but owners of sites I want to link to are top quality bloggers who would never resort to such to such tricks. They don't need to.
- Comments that make me laugh (with derision) are the SEO providers who leave their links on my site offering their services. Is it too unkind of me to imagine that their idea of SEO is dropping spam comments on sites?
- There are also the comments that tell me (often in broken English) my articles are badly written or my site is hardly ever updated, so – of course – I need their expert article writing services. Again – I'm not a perfect blogger by any means, particularly recently – but there are worse!
- Finally, blatant spam comments which include links – often many of them. The worst REGULAR offender spamming my site has been including twenty and more links to extremely dubious sites within the text of the comment.
I asked for opinions on blog commenting within the blogging community, and many were in agreement with me, but it didn't change anything, although I did feel better!
As a result of my general disillusionment, I spent less and less time promoting my blog because all it did was attract more spam comments.
Alternative To Akismet
Many bloggers will claim that Akismet is the gold-standard for blocking spam. I'm sure it does the job for many people, and I have to admit, it certainly blocked plenty of spam from my site.
But it let through loads – and my particularly irritation was those comments with bad links in the comments. I consistently marked them as spam, but still they came. I would have thought there was some “learning” mode, but I couldn't see any improvement.
About a year ago I decided that I ought to upgrade to the paid version of Akismet in the hopes it would reduce spam. It didn't.
So having parted with hard cash (albeit a paltry sum) I had a moan to Akismet support. They looked at what was getting through, acknowledged Akismet was doing a poor job and said they'd monitor the site for me.
No improvement, nothing seemed to reduce spam on my site.
So when Akismet asked me to renew my paid subscription I declined and looked for an alternative plugin.
This isn't the first time I've looked for alternatives – I have tried many anti-spam plugins. But this time I am trying to…..
Reduce Spam With CleanTalk Anti-Spam Plugin
The plugin works silently in the background, checking against a database of spammers, so it doesn't put users through hoops of captcha pages, doing sums, or solving puzzles.
I only installed it 24 hrs ago, so it's hardly got going yet, but as an example, here are the spam statistics I can see on the CleanTalk AntiSpam dashboard.
The key to the numbers is:
- Allowed – the number of requests that were allowed by CleanTalk.
- SPAM – the number of blocked requests from IP addresses not included in SFW.
- Spam FireWall – the number of requests blocked by SFW that didn't reach the site pages.
And you will see that CleanTalk has blocked 63 spambots 🙂
Will My Site Visitors Be Reduced?
In the light of the blocked spambots and requests blocked by SFW that didn't even reach my site, I'll be interested to monitor how much the number of visitors to my site goes down. I've often wondered about the number of visitors claimed to arrive on my site! You might think that reduced number of visitors is a bad thing, but if I'm reducing the number of spammers, that's good!
Also, the price of my hosting relates to the number of site visitors. Who wants to pay for spambots visiting?
So it will be interesting to check back in a month.
Blocking Spam Senders
Here's an example of how spam comments are now shown – with feedback sent to the CleanTalk database. As you will see, if a comment has been incorrectly flagged as spam, you can undo it.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of my aspiring site commenters. You'll see none of them were passed!
It's too early to say whether there will be false positives – i.e. good commenters being blocked. But if there are, it seems simple to whitelist them on the personal lists.
If YOU are making a good comment and you get blocked, please Contact Me, so I can resolve any issues.
Personal Blacklist And Whitelist
If there is a particular site, IP address or user that you want to be rid of you can add it to a personal blacklist. And conversely there are personal whitelists which will help me too, as one regular commenter who made good comments and linked to a good site was regularly marked as spam by Akismet.
Let's hope I can get rid of my 20+ link spammer. The fact that I have never approved a single one of these comments presumably proves it's an automated process, and the spammer never comes back or they would see that every one of their comments has been spammed. Some poor sucker is maybe paying for this, possibly assuming incorrectly that it's good SEO.
Well, not on my site!
Setting Spam Block Lists
Here's the screen showing set up of a personal list. You can filter on IP address, email, country, domain, IP network, stop word and even language, although some of these require a higher subscription than I have paid for. So far I have used domain and IP address at my current subscription level.
Cost of CleanTalk AntiSpam Plugin
Yes – shock horror you have to pay to use this plugin (after a short trial period) because of the resources it uses for the database and the support.
At the time of writing, it cost me $16 for 3 websites for a year. the unit price would have been lower if I had purchased a longer subscription period, but after my disappointing results with the paid Akismet subscription, I'm treading carefully.
Well, if over the next year that $16 saves me even an hour messing about with spam comments, it will have been worth every cent. So the test is….
Has CleanTalk AntiSpam Been Able To Reduce Spam?
The truth is that one day into my test it's far too soon to say. Some spam has still got through, but as I catch it I am adding it to my personal blacklist and will see what happens.
Watch this space!
Meantime, why not try to reduce spam on your own site with CleanTalk AntiSpam? (Affiliate Link)