A common problem with blogs these days is the huge amount of blog comment spam.

Typically, comment spam promotes sex sites. There’s also a software application out there that automatically posts comments hoping to get backlinks for SEO purposes. An unprotected blog would be overwhelmed with comment spam in short order.

This post is designed to help new bloggers setup their blog so that comment spam is completely eliminated. I’m focusing on WordPress here, but similar techniques may work on other blogging platforms.

Activate Akismet

The first step, once you install your WordPress blog, is to head over to WordPress.com and signup. You don’t want to create a blog, you just want to get your API key for WordPress.com services. The main service being Akismet, their anti-spam plugin. Akismet comes with WordPress, but you can’t use it without an API key.

Once you get your API key, go into the plugins tab in your WordPress dashboard and activate Akismet. You should now see Akismet Configuration as a secondary option in the plugins tab. Click it and enter your API key and click Update Options.

Setup Comment Moderation

Akismet will do a great job of filtering out comment spam. It won’t completely eliminate it, though. To prevent the 1% or so of comment spam that Akismet doesn’t catch from hitting your blog, go into the Options tab of your WordPress dashboard and choose the Discussion sub item.

I recommend setting email notifications so you get email when comments are made or held for moderation.  At minimum, get email when comments are held for moderation.

The last settings provides great protection while minimizing your moderation duties.  You’ll need to moderate everyone’s first comment, but after they’ve shown they can be trusted to not spam your blog, their comments are moderated right away. 

That’s the setting that lets you catch any spam that Akismet doesn’t catch.  When you get an email about moderating a comment, and the comment is clearly spam, don’t hesitate to mark it as spam.  That allows Akismet to get better at recognizing spam.

In that same screen, I also recommend setting the number of links to 2 for holding comments for moderation.  Your regular commentors will often post comments with single links to related websites.  If they post 2 or more, the comment will be held for moderation so you can make sure it’s okay.

A No Spam Blog

These settings help you to run a no spam blog.  You’ll be amazed at the quantity of spam that Akismet catches for you, especially as your blog becomes more popular.  You’ll also be amazed at the extraordinary lack of creativity blog spammers have as you see comment after comment that is all the same.

How about those of you who aren’t using WordPress?  What do you do to avoid comment spam?

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