Fighting Spam Comments and Emails Within WordPress

by Alan Prachar on  April 7, 2011 |
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WordPress is an incredibly powerful Content Management System, but whether you’re a designer, or an end user, the last thing in the world you want is spam pouring into your website from questionable sources. Besides being incredibly annoying, it looks really unprofessional and may cause clients to wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into. My partner, Robin was having a problem with a WordPress site she was maintaining right around the time I began playing around with some spam prevention methods. We decided to see if we could resolve the issue.

Generally speaking, there are two avenues through which spam can get to an end user: Through commenting on posts and via email through contact forms. To address the contact form issue, we installed Really Simple CAPTCHA which works in conjuction with Contact Form 7. While many themes may include an integrated contact form, more often than not they fail to meet the needs of the client, and we’ll replace it with Contact Form 7.

Really Simple CAPTCHA adds a simple 4 letter CAPTCHA to Contact Form 7. It’s quick and easy for anybody to use, and more importantly, it’s not overly obtrusive. It’s presents a nice balance of preventing spam, while not annoying anyone trying to legitimately use the contact form.

Next, we had to address the comment spam. The comment spam was definitely a problem, filling the dashboard with comments regarding Viagra and debt consolidation. Granted these comments didn’t make it to the actual site but were pending approval, it was still generating email notifications that a comment had been made. It also cluttered the dashboard and made finding legitimate comments extremely difficult.

To address this, we installed Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress. Conditional CAPTCHA works in conjunction with either Akismet or TypePad AntiSpam. Personally, I prefer working with TypePad AntiSpam, it’s more user friendly to configure and it’s proven to be extremely reliable.

Here’s the beauty of Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress, it protects a site from spam comments without any legitimate user ever knowing it’s there. It only presents itself for comments that have credible risk of being spam. So using the example before, if the word Viagra appears in a comment, the CAPTCHA is triggered. It’s an extremely elegant and unobtrusive solution to spam comments.

Every spam prevention system is bound to have a breach once in a while. Gmail has some of the best spam protection on the internet, however, every once in a while I’ll get an email informing me that I’m entitled to a boat load of cash from Nigeria. It happens. However, Robin was getting numerous spam comments a week from the blog we were working on. Since instituting these security measures, we haven’t received a single spam comment or email on the site. It’s been several weeks now, and I’m still waiting to see something come through. This combination of plug-ins is an effective, easy, and most importantly, completely free method for preventing spam on WordPress sites.

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