Comments are the lifeblood of practically every blog. The primary reason bloggers post new items and other content on their blogs is to generate discussion and comment amongst their readers, and to bring new readers to the site to comment and participate.
The biggest downside of allowing reader comments on your blog is that you’ll inevitably fall victim to comment spam. Spam comments are generally intended to direct traffic or create links back to the spammer’s website, and the spammer’s website is often either some type of sales operation or a malware infected site that you don’t want linked to your site. Spam comments also disrupt the flow of your comment threads, and often discourage your genuine website visitors from commenting.
There are a few different techniques you can use to protect your blog against comment spam. Many blogs implement more than one of the following:
Because most spammers use automated software tools to post their comments, requiring a visitor to register with your website before posting a comment will eliminate the overwhelming majority of spam comments. But there’s a downside to requiring user registration; many of your visitors simply won’t be willing to register and provide their e-mail address to yet another website, and they’ll simply stop visiting your site.
Fortunately, you can leverage the fact that most of your visitors probably already have Facebook accounts. Facebook offers blog plug-ins that allow a Facebook user to login to your website using their existing Facebook credentials. This has the benefit that people who use their Facebook identities will be less likely to “troll” or leave inappropriate comments since those comments will be tied to their Facebook profile, and that most spammers won’t go through the steps of creating a Facebook account.
Use a Spam Filter
Since comment spam is a problem that can affect virtually every blog owner, there are numerous services that can automatically help to filter out potential spam comments, and give you the opportunity to permanently delete them before they’re ever published on your site. For WordPress, the most popular anti-spam plug-in is Askimet. The Askimet service is free for personal websites, and is constantly being updated and improved, so it’s likely to filter out the vast majority of spam comments.
Require Comment Preapproval
Finally, you can always change the settings on your blog so that all comments require your approval before they show up on your site. The advantages of this approach are clear; not a single comment will be seen by your other visitors unless you determine it’s genuine and appropriate. The downside, of course, is that you have to spend the time to review and approve (or disapprove) all the comments your site receives. Furthermore, some visitors want to be able to see their comments on the site as they make them. By have a delay before their comments can be seen, it may be less likely that they’ll comment in the future.
Regardless of the approach you take, make sure to monitor the overall effects on your blog. If significantly fewer visitors comment because of the way you’re aggressively filtering spam, then your solution might not be the best one.
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