Hello and welcome to the fifth instalment of Blogging Know How! The aim of this feature is to answer some of your blogging, reading, reviewing, and social networking related questions. If there’s anything you’ve been wondering about, you can’t figure out or just want me to help you out with, you can send it to me via the little contact form I’ll post at the end of these posts.
“How do you protect your blog from spam? I recently got this disturbing email from a follower of mine about an indecent Twitter update on my blog but even though I checked on Twitter for that tweet, I could not find it. I even tried signing out and then viewing my blog but could not find it among the Twitter updates.” – Nobonita
As bloggers, spam is something we have to live with. Getting more exposure for your blog means more spammers as well and it’s not something you can get rid of altogether. It’s quite an annoying business but all we can do is to prevent them from showing up on the blog.
Things you can do to prevent your blog from spam if you’re using Blogger:
- Enable comment moderation for your comments: This is the most important one. It basically means that you’ll have to review each comment before they go live on your blog and either approve it or trash it. When you have new comments to approve, a notification will appear on your Blogger dashboard and you can sort through them. It may sound like a lot of work but unfortunately, Blogger doesn’t have a built-in spam filter yet so this is the best you can do. How to activate word verification? Just go to your Blogger dashboard, then click on Settings -> Comments -> and set comment moderation to ‘always’.
- Word verification, aka captcha: Captcha’s main goal is to deter automated comment spamming systems by making your readers enter in crazy jumbled-
up letters when trying to comment on your blog. Each commenter will have to go through this additional step before they can actually submit their comments. BUT. (And here comes the tricky bit) If you ask me, captcha is single-handedly the most annoying thing I’ve seen on Blogger. Seriously. The words are extremely hard to read, almost illegible which will put off lots of bloggers from commenting. No one wants to spend ages on your blog, squinting at the computer screen trying to figure out what those tiny mouse droppings stand for. And if you’ve already set up comment moderation, it’s also pointless. You’ll have to moderate your comments before they appear on your blog anyway, then why torture your readers?
- Backlinks and registered users: Make sure to set the backlinks tab to ‘hide’ and the ‘who can comment tab’ to either registered users or users with Google accounts.
Things you can do to prevent your blog from spam if you’re using WordPress:
- Activate Akismet: Akismet is a built-in plugin for WordPress which basically blocks spam comments for you. It marks all the suspicious comments as spam and puts them in a separate spam folder. These comments won’t show up on your blog until you approve them and mark them as non-spam. There are times when non-spam comments get caught by Akismet and go to the spam folder by accident and vice versa, but it’s very rare. (In the past 6 months since I’ve been using this plugin, there were only 5 spam comments that Akismet somehow missed, and 41 comments that were marked as spam but turned out to be genuine, non-spam comments – which is pretty good, I’d say.) If you haven’t activated it yet, make sure to do so – Akismet will do the rest for you.
- Comment moderation: Just like on Blogger, you change your settings so that each comment has to be approved before they show up on your blog but I don’t think it’s necessary. I set mine to ‘comment author must have a previously approved comment’ (which means that you’ll only need to approve someone the very first time they leave you a comment – once you do so, their comments will be automatically marked as non-spam) and I had no spam issues yet.
However, make sure you know the people you approve. Don’t approve anyone you don’t know and if you’re unsure whether they’re spammers or not, always check their names and websites. With such usernames as “china tea”, “lista de email”, or “cheap swatch watches” most spammers are ridiculously easy to spot but some of them are a bit more tricky. Don’t click on anything unless you know the commenter and if you’re not sure if it’s spam or not, make sure to check their website’s URL. Most of these spammers use fake or non-existent websites so if you see one of these, the comment will probably be spam. It sounds a bit complicated but once you get the hang of it, it’s terribly easy to spot spammers.
Do you have any blogging/reviewing/social networking related questions you’d like me to answer on the blog? Feel free to submit it below! :)