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Stopping SPAM on your WordPress website

Published: July 2014

Spam, unfortunately, is just another part of the web’s circle of life but there are quite a few reasonably easy steps to counter the problems that come with comment and email spam. Some of the solutions come with WordPress whilst others require plugins to be installed and activated on your website.

If you have a contact form on your website that users can fill in, that form may be targeted for spam. Essentially what happens is, a computer fills the form in and sends it repeatedly and then does this across multiple websites.┬áIf your website has comments enabled then you’ll also be open to comment spam where comments repeatedly appear either on your website or in the moderation queue. In both cases it can be disruptive and time consuming to deal with.

How to prevent spam

The first point of call would be Akismet, a plugin that is provided with WordPress which upon activation will help prevent spam being posted on your website. If you run a free website you can register for a license key for free. However, if you make money via affiliate links, adverts or e-commerce etc then the license costs $5 per month. So all you have to do is head to the plugins section of your CMS, activate Akismet and then head over to http://akismet.com/wordpress/ to get your API key. If you’re unsure on how to install or active plugins, this post here can help.

Akismet screenshot

If you get comment spam on your website and don’t actually have any pages or posts that allow comments then you can stop this by logging into the admin panel, heading over to Settings > Discussion and make sure “Allow people to post comments on news articles” is unchecked. If it is already unchecked then make sure “Allow comments” in the Discussion section on all your individual posts is not checked.

Gravity forms is widely used for good reason but if you’re getting spam emails then you may want to look at CAPTCHA or Picatcha. I would suggest Picatcha as CAPTCHA images can be hard to read, they don’t look as nice on your site and can actually put some people off filling in your forms. If you have a developer’s license for Gravity Forms then Picatcha is free and on top of that it’s easy to integrate and images are much harder for a machine to recognise than skewed text that makes it only moderately difficult for both people and machines.

Picatcha screenshot

To get Picatcha, head over to the Gravity Forms website to download and install the plugin. Again, if you’re unsure on how to install and activate plugins then this post will help you out.

Spam can be tedious and waste our time, as well as looking unprofessional and putting off our legitimate users. Hopefully with the above steps and plugins you can eliminate the spam comments and emails that come through.

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