I just took a look at my dashboard and saw some horrendous numbers. First, some background info.
Since I started blogging, it was easy to see that spam comments would be a problem.
Even with little traffic, I got spam comments. Much of the spam came from bots who scan the internet in a pathetic attempt to drive traffic to sites by automatically posting links in the comments section of blogs all over the web.
One of my mentors recommended that I use the Akismet plugin to block those spam comments. This worked extremely well for a while, until it didn’t.
It seems that some of those spambots got a bit more sophisticated and started to bypass the Akismet plugin.
I decided to install an additional plugin – the WP Spamshield plugin. Once again, that helped a bit, but some comments still found a way through.
Onto the horrendous numbers
According to my stats, Akismet has protected my blog from 17,972 spam comments, with another 73 comments in my current spam queue. Also, WP SpamShield has protected my blog from 41,910 spam comments with an average of 645 spam comments blocked daily.
Now, there are currently 15,176 approved comments on my blog. That means that there are almost three times as many spam comments than actual comments that have tried to beat the system.
The ones that get through
As I mentioned before, some comments actually get through.
Fortunately, if you go to the discussion settings in your WordPress Admin area (Settings > Discussion), you can specify that if a comment author hasn’t posted an approved comment in the past, you have to manually approve the comment.
Unfortunately, as my blog has grown, I get more and more of these that I have to approve, to the point where it has become a normal and tedious part of my daily tasks.
It’s something I’ve been tempted to do on a number of occasions. It would definitely make my life easier.
No more annoying spam (or hateful) comments. All I would have to do is create content and post. Sounds almost euphoric.
If you’re at the point where you’re getting a lot of spam comments, you’ve probably asked yourself that question at least once.
When sites like Copyblogger announce that they are removing comments and make a logical case for their decision, it almost justifies my urge to do the same.
A while back, Michael Hyatt decided to remove comments from his blog, and he puts forward a pretty solid argument. You should read his post for a different perspective.
Your answer to this question shouldn’t be primarily influenced by how comments personally affect you. If you’re thinking in that direction, I would encourage you to rethink.
The beauty of blog comments is that they make your content the gateway for a two-way conversation. In some cases, it can even go beyond a two-way conversation as your readers start to interact with each other.
For a blog like this one, removing comments would significantly affect the conversation that I’m able to have with you. You wouldn’t be able to voice your opinion concerning this content in a centralized location, adding to the ongoing conversation.
Yes, I can make you go through the additional steps of having to find me on social media to give your opinion, but quite frankly, I see that as an inconvenience to you – and I don’t want that to be the case.
Blogs like Copyblogger or even Michael Hyatt's own, have TONS of followers. I imagine that if a few thousand people disengage with their content, it wouldn’t matter because these sites still attract TONS of interaction.
With little guys like me, if a few thousand people disengage from my content, the only thing I can be sure of is that my mommy will still love me. My wife too, of course. Oh, and Noah 😉
So what do you do?
- Take advantage of spam blocking plugins. Yes, I know that this won’t eliminate all spam comments, but you’ll probably see a 99% reduction (my unofficial, unscientific guestimate).
- Have a comment approval policy. Doing this makes it easier to quickly determine what gets marked as spam and what doesn’t. This is something I'm working on right now so you should have an example soon.
- Have a comment approval process. Here’s my process (or at least what I try to do) – in the evening, I go through all of my comments. I start by marking spam comments by ticking the checkboxes and then hitting the “Mark as spam” option once. I then tick the checkboxes of all remaining comments and approve them all in one go. I wrap up the process by responding to legit comments.
- Consider using a commenting plugin like Disqus. This is what I was doing until recently on this blog. Their system actually ends up reducing the amount of spam comments you get by a significant amount. I’ve since decided to remove Disqus, and will give my full opinion at some point in the future. However, I do know that this works well for many bloggers.
Are there any exceptions?
Actually, I believe there are. I’m pretty sure I’ll remove the commenting option from my biology blog. Why? Because it’s a blog where I post content to help others. I’m not actively engaged there.
As much as it would be great to have an ongoing dialogue there too, it can get frustrating for visitors who ask questions not to receive responses from me. Especially when the questions posed on the biology blog require answers that are closer to tutoring sessions than actual dialogue.
I also don’t respond to comments on my biology blog because my focus is currently on Become A Blogger.
As I mentioned above, what I’m sharing here is my opinion, but it’s not the only opinion. I want to hear from you. Can you guess where? In the comments area that is still below. Feel free to share:
- What spam blocking plugin you use (if any)
- Why you think my opinion rocks or sucks
I’ll be down there waiting to reply to your awesome comments 😉