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How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 3: How do I prevent spam comments from being posted on my blog?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 3: How do I prevent spam comments from being posted on my blog?

In this article you’re going to learn some general tips for avoiding getting spam comments on your blog. Hopefully you’ve already read Article 1 in the series and understand what spam comments are and why you should stop them, and you’ve looked at some examples of spam and learned how to tell a spam comment from a real comment in Article 2.

How do I stop spam getting published in my blog comments?

There are two ways to stop spam appearing in your blog comments, and you do need to use them together to be completely effective:

  1. Make sure your blogging software’s spam filter is turned on to its highest level
  2. Make sure you moderate comments before displaying them

There are of course variations within both of these, so I’ll talk about them one by one.

Setting up your spam filter

This is general information, and I don’t have access to all of the blogging platforms, but most platforms (WordPress, Blogger, etc.) will have spam filter in place already. This will stop anything hugely obvious, like millions of links in a comment or keywords that we can all think of that we see a lot in spam emails, etc.

Often, you can set the level of spam filtering or what gets done with the spam comments.

For example, in WordPress.com, I can choose to set these options:

  • Either the worst and most persistent spam is silently discarded OR all spam is put into the spam review folder so I can review it
  • I can list keywords which I want to always make a comment go into spam (I haven’t bothered with this as my spam is very varied!)
  • I can select how many links need to be in a comment before it automatically goes into the spam folder (I allow up to two, allowing people to share information, their own book review, etc. without being penalised

How do I select the spam filter options for my blog?

In WordPress, I find the spam filter options in Settings – Discussion.

All blogging platforms will have some kind of Settings area where you can find this information. If you use another platform than WordPress.com, maybe you’d like to add a comment detailing where to find the spam filters in your platform, and I’ll add that information to this article.

Moderating comments

It’s essential to set up some sort of moderation on comments that people try to place on your blog. Although blogging platforms’ spam filters are pretty good, they won’t catch everything, particularly those cleverer ones disguised as praise with only one (or no) links that we saw last time.

When you decide to moderate comments, it means that when someone types a comment on your blog, you will receive an email with that comment, which you can then accept, delete or mark as spam. You click a link in the email, decide what you want to do with the comment, and your blogging platform will display it, delete it or note that the person is spamming (I use delete for an accidental spam or the odd duplicated comment).

There are options here, too, the most common being:

  • Moderate every single comment that is made on your blog
  • Moderate just the first comment from a particular commenter (usually defined by their email address) – each subsequent comment by someone whose first comment you’ve approved will be approved automatically

I have chosen the second option, because most spam is automated, so there’s little danger that you’ll accept someone’s comment and then find them spamming you all over the place.

I do have all comments emailed to me anyway, to make sure that I see and can respond to them, but moderating just the first one means I don’t have to click through and accept, delete or mark as spam every time I receive a comment from someone who’s commented previously.

How do I choose which comments to moderate?

In WordPress, comment moderation is in the same place as the spam filtering options: Settings – Discussion. In other platforms, look for Discussion or Comments in the Settings (again, please share where this is on your platform if you don’t use WordPress.

How do I check for comments that aren’t spam?

Occasionally, your blogging platform will get all over-excited and mark something as spam that isn’t spam. Maybe it contains a keyword it doesn’t like, or maybe it’s got more than the number of links you usually allow – but for innocent reasons.

Each blogging platform has a place to view comments which will include your spam queue, spam folder, etc. I just pop there and have a look every so often – you can mark a legitimate comment as not spam and it will show on your article.


This article has given some general information about how best to prevent spam comments from making their way onto your blog.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Do post any questions or comments below; your comments may affect the content of my next article!

Other relevant posts on this blog

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 2: How do I tell if a comment is spam?

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

How do I keep people engaged with my blog? – comments and reciprocity

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 2: How do I tell if a comment is spam?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 2: How do I tell if a comment is spam?

In the second in my series of articles about spam comments on blogs, I’m going to help you to learn how to decide whether a comment is spam (so should be deleted) or legitimate. I started this series by writing about what spam comments are and why you should stop them, and if you’re new to the topic, you might want to go back and look at that post first.

So, let’s have a look at some spam. I’m gong to start with the easy-to-spot ones and then move on to some more ambiguous ones.

In each example, I’ve included a screen shot of the comment, with its origin on the left, the “comment” in the middle and the title of the bog post it refers to on the right. Some details have been blurred out.

Obvious spam that has no place in your comments

This first category shouldn’t even get through to your comments to review if you’ve set up or got any sort of spam protection. There’s no way could mistake these for legitimate comments:

A sales word repeated over and over again and also a particularly common spam term:

… and one with some random information on buying sports gear on a post about small businesses.

Here’s another one which is talking about factory shops and comes from a URL about running shoes (remember how those spammers want to get the URLs  of the companies they’re working for all over the Internet? Nothing to do with Word documents!

So those are quite easy, and they’re also the ones you won’t see so often, as spam filters will catch them.

Spam comments pretending to be praise

This is a kind of post that often sneaks through. Be wary of over-the-top praise with no proper mention of what it’s praising. And look at where it comes from and the links:

So, this one is extremely vague and general – why would anyone legitimate post this? Also look at the commenter “Name” – “online shopping”. It looks like praise but that’s just to fool the spam filters (notice there is no URL placed within the comment, again to skip past the spam filter):

what about this one? How nice – they found my post on Word documents to be wonderful. But again, no detail about what they found wonderful, and look at the commenter’s “Name” on the left. Enough said.

I get this one ALL the time, mentioning they have bookmarked it. But from someone with a kind of name whose website is called that? (I’m not even typing the word here; who knows what that will attract!

This last one is a clever one but I get the “famous” comment all the time; also the not knowing how they got there. The URL was VERY dodgy on this one, too.

Note that quite often these comments have a spelling mistake or weird phrase. From having accidentally let these through in the past, I’m fairly convinced that they act as a kind of highlight to let other spammers know this particular blog is not well protected and they can get their spam onto it. It’s so easy to set up an automated search and comment!

Spam comments asking questions

This kind of comment is even more difficult to work out – because we all like to interact with our readers and answer their questions! Well, I get these sort of comments all the time, and again, check the URLs and commenter “Names” and you’ll get a good idea of what you’re looking at.

OK, this might nearly catch me out. Except no one has ever asked me legitimately how to find my email subscription or my RSS feed. If you know what those are, you will find them on the site. So this is a real red flag … but the URL should be, anyway. All sorts of people do comment, but this looks like a sales site or a lure to something worse to me:

And the classic “off topic” – this again shrieks spam to me after years of seeing them – plus it’s our spacey friend again from above!

By all means, answer legitimate, specific questions in comments – ones that relate to the post they’re commenting on, for example. But these two examples are absolute classics and should go straight into spam.

Semi-legitimate comments with a spammy purpose

This last category I usually give the benefit of the doubt and mark as Trash rather than Spam. After all, it’s common knowledge that a good way to get blog followers for our own sites is to comment on other people’s blog posts, and of course we will then include our own.

It’s worth noting here, too, that I’m all about cooperation and coopetition with colleagues in the editing, transcription and localisation business, however, I’m not particularly keen (that’s an understatement) on people commenting about how their service is cheaper and better than mine!

Thanks, but no thanks, and into the Trash it goes!

This article has given you some examples of spam, ranging from the obvious to the not-so-obvious, and has hopefully helped you to distinguish spam comments from legitimate ones (for examples of legitimate comments, just take a look at the ones on my previous article, or, in time, this one!). I hope you feel more equipped to tell if a blog comment is spam now!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Do post any questions or comments below; your comments may affect the content of my next article!

Other relevant posts on this blog

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

How do I keep people engaged with my blog? – comments and reciprocity

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

How do I deal with spam comments on my blog 1: Why do people spam my blog and why should I stop them?

After writing about keeping people engaged with our blogs last week, I started thinking about those people we DON’T want to engage with – spammers. In the first part of this series I’ll talk about why people might spam comment on a blog and why we shouldn’t allow them to. I’ll move on to discuss how to identify a spam comment, and then how to deal with them.

What is a spam comment on a blog?

A spam comment is a comment that isn’t relevant to the blog post it’s commenting on and is placed simply to encourage people to click through to the website the spammer is promoting. At its “best”, this is used to promote a website, usually by a third party, but at worst, it could link to a dodgy site that could contain malware or viruses.

Why do people submit spam comments to blogs?

Like those spammers who send out emails to millions of people asking them for their bank account details, knowing that a very small proportion will fall for the trick, spammers (in person or using software) try to place their website URL on people’s blogs assuming that a) a certain proportion of blog owners will let these through, and b) a certain proportion of those blogs’ readers will click on the link and go through to the website they are promoting.

In addition, search engines such as Google reward a website having links on other, reputable websites, and this includes accepted comments on blog posts. This is why people like me recommend that you engage with other RELEVANT blogs to get your URL out there. However, this is not the same as spamming blogs just to get your URL mentioned on them.

There’s a sort of continuum here, going from well-meaning and unintentional to malevolent

  • Someone trying to get their own URL out there by commenting fairly randomly on other people’s blog posts. They have typically read the post and are an individual trying to apply advice but getting it a bit wrong (“I loved this piece on how to cook spaghetti. I write about car insurance, do follow me back”)
  • Someone trying to get their own URL out there by commenting on a rival’s blog post to try to attract their custom away (note: I’m big on cooperation and coopetition, not so keen on, “This post on plagiarism is great. We can write people’s essays for them at [URL]”)
  • Someone working on their client’s SEO who has promised them “x back-links on reputable websites” (This post is great I will subscribe to your blog [URL for real estate in Texas]”)
  • Someone doing the above but using software to blitz hundreds of websites with the same message
  • Someone trying to tempt readers into clicking on a link which will allow them to download malware / viruses into the reader’s computer

Why should I exclude spam comments from my blog posts?

At best, allowing spam comments on your blog posts just looks bad. If I see a blog post that has some legitimate comments and a lot of spammy stuff from companies that have nothing to do with the blog, I will think the blog owner doesn’t take much notice or their blog or curate it carefully.

At medium, you are helping companies to promote themselves and their clients by using your blog inappropriately, so encouraging not-ideal business practices. Yes, this will happen anyway, but why should we help them?

At worst, you could be exposing your blog readers to malevolent and dangerous websites: by allowing a comment to go live, you’re condoning its existence in the eyes of some of your readers, so they may feel safe to click on that URL and end up viewing a porn site or finding themselves with a virus problem.

What can I do to stop spam comments on my blog?

I’m going to write about this in detail another time (and I’ll make sure to link to it here). In summary:

Be vigilant.

This means …

  • Setting up alerts so you see and check each and every comment that is posted on your blog
  • Using blogging software with good spam filters
  • Moderating all or first-by-this-person comments personally
  • Checking for and suppressing spam comments

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introductory article. Do post any questions or comments below; your comments may affect the content of my next article!

Other relevant posts on this blog

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

How do I keep people engaged with my blog? – comments and reciprocity

 
29 Comments

Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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How do I keep people engaged with my blog?

How do I keep people engaged with my blog?

I’ve been thinking about how I engage with other people’s blogs recently, and why I stop reading them, or choose particular ones to cull when I feel like I have too much to read. Here I share a couple of top two tips for engagement – and the top reason I personally disengage from blogs.

Blogging is (usually) social

Blogging is in the main a social activity. If you don’t want people to read your words, you’re more likely to write them in a journal or in a document stored privately, aren’t you?

And you’re going to want feedback from people – your readers. You might look at your statistics and know that people are reading your words, but you also want comments, other people’s words, saying they hear you, they agree, maybe they respectfully disagree, but they’re engaging with you.

Edited to add: It’s been pointed out to me that some people do (and it’s of course completely their right to do this) use their blog as a kind of diary, a point of self-reflection, but choose to place that online rather than privately.  That’s obviously completely fair enough. But such blogs don’t tend to call for answers, ask questions, look overtly for back-up or seek to engage in the way I’m talking about. If you do seek to engage, it’s good to engage back. If you don’t choose to, that’s fine, as long as it’s an active choice and you realise that might put off some readers if you were hoping to engage them. I hope that’s clearer and more inclusive now.

Business blogging is social

I read a lot of book review blogs and a lot of editing and business blogs, too. Blogging isn’t only social for the nice person sharing review of books – it’s a way for businesses, large and small, to engage. I’m thrilled when the how-to articles on this blog get liked and commented on – often many years after I first posted them. Sometimes it’s just to say thank you, sometimes to ask a question, but I always appreciate the effort that someone’s gone to to click and type.

I also like commenting on people’s blogs if I can contribute something, whether that’s a word of appreciation, a “me, too” or an answer to a question posed in the article.

Engage with your commenters

The number one reason why I disengage from a blog (after the blogger ceasing to write it and finding offensive content) is when the blogger doesn’t respond to comments. I’m not talking not responding to a few here and there, or taking a while to respond, but when a blogger either only responds to one or two obviously favoured commenters, or just none at all. Ever.

Respond to comments with a comment

So I’d suggest that if you want to maintain engagement with your readers and stop your blog leaking readers, you should consider replying to your comments, even if only with a thank you or a few words. It makes the commenter feel read, feel appreciated, feel like they’re being talked to, and builds reciprocity and connections. Going by my sample of one, they’re more likely to stick with your blog and read it through thick and thin, engage with it and share it. And that’s what we want, isn’t it?

Consider adding a like button to your comments

I’ve previously explained how to do this for WordPress.com – you can easily add a “Like” button to your comments, so you can like someone’s comment and they can like your response. I love this – it’s a great short-cut if you don’t have time to reply to a comment right now, and for the original commenter to acknowledge that they’ve seen your reply to them.

Nobody’s perfect and nobody should feel they have to be

I’ll hold my hands up now and say that I know I have not personally responded in full to every single “Thank you, you saved my document” post on this blog. I do try to Like such comments now I have my Like buttons, and if someone asks me a question, I’ll always answer it to the best of my ability, as for clarification or say I’m going to leave it up there because I don’t know the answer but someone else might.

If you dig around on this blog, you will find comments that haven’t been answered (please don’t, though – I have admitted it!) but in the main I like and reply.

Obviously, people go away, people get ill, people have scheduled times away from their blog – and sometimes schedule posts to publish in the meantime. And you don’t always want to advertise you’re away, right? But the bloggers I love will explain this, maybe afterwards: “I’ve been away and I’ll catch up with your comments now I’m back; sorry if I miss any”. Others do talk about a gap in advance, and of course that’s all fine and understandable. No one should be chained to their blog – but if you allow comments, it’s my personal opinion that you should respond to those comments if you can.

What do you think?

If you comment on blog posts, do you expect a reply or acknowledgement? Do you reply to people’s comments on your blog? What’s the top reason you turn away from reading a blog? I’d really like to know!

Other relevant posts on this blog

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

 
32 Comments

Posted by on June 1, 2017 in Blogging, Business

 

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Five ways to drive and increase engagement with your blog

Five ways to drive and increase engagement with your blog

My viewing figures have gone down. No one is buying my books at the moment. Who wants to start a new business at a time like this? Well, here are five pointers to driving and increasing (or maybe, at the moment, maintaining) engagement with your blog. And here I am doing number five right now …

5. Publish more blog posts

The search engines like you to have regularly updated content, to make sure they’re not sending people to an out-of-date source of information. I find the sweet spot comes at around three posts per week. They don’t have to be long. Try mixing things up with different subjects or types of article.

4. Share useful information

One of the most-viewed of my blog posts is still one I wrote as a note for myself in 2011 on how to sort out a problem with Word. Still gets those hits, even now – and thank you comments.

3. Seek engagement

Ask questions. Put those share buttons on your blog (here’s how to do that in WordPress) and ask people to share if they found it useful.

2. Add Like buttons to comments on your posts

I love this feature of WordPress (and here’s how to do it) – if you Like as well as reply to comments, your reader will be alerted and should get a good feeling about you. If you don’t have time to reply right away, a Like will let them know you’ve read and appreciated their comment.

1. Reply to comments on your blog posts

I read a lot of blogs. If I put a comment on a blog post and the original commentator doesn’t respond to it, I feel ignored. I’ve talked about this at length on posts about reciprocity in social media (including blogs). I really try to reply to comments on my blogs within 24 hours; if I can’t do it quickly, at least I’ll “Like” the comment. Personally, if I read and comment on a blog and never get any acknowledgement, first I’ll stop commenting, then I’ll be less likely to read it. So I assume other people are like me and will do the same. Of course there are reasons why people can’t reply to blog comments temporarily, or don’t see some of them, but if it’s a constant feature, lots of comments with no replies, I’ll tend to lose interest.

I hope these ideas have been useful to you and help you to drive more engagement on your own blogs!

 
11 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2016 in Blogging, WordPress

 

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WordPress tip: How do I allow Likes on comments?

I noticed that lots of other people’s blogs allow you to “Like” comments on a post (as well as Liking the post itself). Because I had to have a little look for it, I thought it would be a useful thing to blog about. So, how do you allow Likes on comments in WordPress?

Note, this applies to WordPress.com blogs, self-hosted WordPress.org blogs may need all or part of a widget to do this.

Why enable “likes” on blog comments?

We’re all used to Liking posts on Facebook and now Twitter. It’s a good way to let the poster know that you’ve seen and approved of what they’ve said, even if you don’t comment.

We can also allow Likes on our WordPress blog posts (for info on how to do that, see this article).

Being able to Like a comment on a blog post means that you can acknowledge it without continuing the conversation infinitely. Other people can also show their appreciation of a particular comment. It adds another thread to the links between you and your commenter.

How do I enable liking on blog comments?

Go to the WordPress dashboard (the original one) and locate the Settings area.

Go to the Sharing menu.

Scroll down until you see the Comment Likes are … section at the very bottom:

Turn on likes on comments in WordPress

Click on On for all comments and Likes will now be available on all comments.

What does Liking look like on blog comments?

Here’s a screenshot from a blog post on my book review blog, showing various nested comments. People can click on the little star to Like the comment:

Likes on blog comments visible

If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful, do please comment and/or use the sharing buttons below this post to share it with other potential readers who might find it useful. Thank you!

Related posts on this blog

How to set up a WordPress blog

How to add pages to make your WordPress blog into a website

How to add images to your WordPress blog posts and pages

How to add slideshows and galleries to your WordPress blog posts and pages

Using the Publicize feature in WordPress

WordPress 7 – adding an avatar picture

WordPress 8 – setting a static landing page

WordPress 9 – setting up a Posts page

Adding links to blog posts – how to do it on the major blogging platforms (and email)

How video can help your blog or website

How to get back to the old WordPress dashboard in WordPress.com

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 14, 2016 in Blogging, WordPress

 

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How do I get back to the full dashboard on WordPress.com?

 

I’ve been asked this question a few times recently, as WordPress has sought to make it easier for users to post a quick blog post or create a page. People who are familiar with the old, more detailed dashboard want to find it again. So here’s how.

How do I find the old dashboard on WordPress?

When you log on to WordPress, you will find a button marked My Sites. Click on that and you’ll get the new, simplified dashboard:

WordPress new admin page

Now click on WP Admin, circled on the above image.

This will take you to the old familiar interface:

Old WordPress dashboard

If this doesn’t work there is another tip, which is to add /wp-admin to the end of your page’s URL.

Note: this works for WordPress.com, the free version – self-hosted WordPress.org is a little different. If you’ve found this post useful, please do share it using the sharing buttons below.

Other useful posts on this site

Is it worth having a website for my business?

WordPress 1 – the basics – joining and setting up a blog (links to all the other WordPress tutorials)

Resource guide – blogging and social media

 
36 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Blogging, Business, SEO, Social media, WordPress

 

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