WordPress is a powerful blogging platform that runs 20 percent of the world’s websites. While it can do many things out of the box, it cannot stop comment spam. I have tried many different solutions over the years and have found the following plugins to be the most helpful in stopping spam.
The Akismet plugin has been the primary spam stopper for the majority of WordPress users over the years. Its features include:
- Automatic filters and checks for each submitted comment
- Commenter history, including the number of approved comments
- URL scanning to ensure there are no hidden links
- An option to simply blackhole comments that are obviously spam
Akisment is free for personal websites and $5 per month for commercial sites. It requires registration in order to obtain an API key. While this may seem inconvenient, I recommend the plugin, especially for new blogs.
This plugin works very well at stopping spam in comment, trackback and contact forms. Originally developed as WP-SpamFree, it was one of the first spam solutions to eliminate captchas, and I have often utilized it on client sites where user friendliness was a priority. This plugin will:
- Recognize spam whether it is submitted by a human or a bot
- Deleting spam to prevent it going to a queue or the database
- IP address comparison to eliminate trackback abuse
- No captchas to frustrate visitors
WP-SpamShield uses over 100 filters to keep spam away from blogs. If you are wondering how to stop getting spam, this plugin is the answer. It is free for personal and business users.
Along the same lines as the previous plugin, WordPress ZeroSpam works quietly in the background without forcing visitors to solve an unreadable captcha. It provides the following features:
- No spam moderation queue for the site owner to sift through
- Places an automatic block on IP addresses that are associated with spam
- Offers the option of logging spam attempts to see where it is coming from and who may be behind it
This free plugin was created by experienced WordPress developers who are committed to making comment spam a thing of the past. It is my opinion that this type of spam solution is the wave of the future.
CleanTalk is a plugin that site owners can simply install without any complicated settings. Aside from its superior spam-blocking capabilities on registrations, contact forms and comments, it does not require the use of captchas and will automatically scan the existing comments to see if there is any hidden spam, which it will then delete. This plugin will work with:
- The native WordPress comment system
- JetPack comments
- Registrations for WordPress, WooCommerce and BuddyPress
- Common contact forms such as JetPack, Contact Form 7, WooCommerce Review and Gravity Forms
- Custom forms created by the site owner
CleanTalk goes the extra mile with the database check, and I like to use it when I am too busy to go through thousands of comments looking for spam. This plugin is free for all users.
Another entry in the captcha-free class, this plugin not only stops automated comment spam, but also prevents bot registration and brute-force attacks against the site. Goodbye Captcha provides protection for:
- JetPack, Epoch, MailChimp, Postmatic and PlanSo forms
- Nearly all membership plugins
- The Login with Ajax and WP User Control pluginsBrute-force attacks are a serious problem with WordPress sites, and having a spam plugin that also prevents this issue is a real plus.
Growmap Anti Spambot
For those who have low-traffic sites, a simple solution is best. Growmap is a plugin that adds a checkbox under the comment form. When a visitor wants to leave a comment, they must check the box to prove they are not a spammer. The box is invisible to bots, which means there is no way for them to spam the blog. The drawback to using this plugin is it does not provide protection from human spammers and trackback abuse, which is why I only recommend it for sites where this is unlikely to be a problem.
For those who are wondering how to stop getting spam, the above list is a good starting point. Comment spam is not likely to go away anytime soon, and the only weapons a site owner has are strong plugins that also provide a positive experience for visitors.