While working on migrating a client site last week, I saw that their queue of 70,000+ spam comments had ballooned their database to such outrageous proportions that it was difficult to move servers and retain anything useful without clearing it out first. Of course, trying to get these files to and from shared hosting servers (I know, I know, not my choice) was a tedious accomplishment.
There are plenty of ways to manage spam, which I can think of a variety of reasons to do: (keep the sanity of your developers, stop rewarding spam-bots and the sites that they shill for, increase your own site rankings, make your posts more attractive to actual readers, etc.). The short amount of time that you put into taking care of this problem can be reaped many times over in the long run.
Unsurprisingly, WordPress.com runs one of the best tools for the job, Akismet. This plugin runs from the WordPress servers, meaning it doesn’t add additional strain to your site, and is constantly checking against and adding new types of spam to block. It is easy to set up and is pay-as-you-like, meaning the cost can be as low or as high as you find the plugin useful.
Comment moderation is another useful tool, which you can do from the Discussion Settings of your admin panel. You can force users to register before commenting if you so choose, automatically ignore comments with a defined number of links in them, blacklist comments containing specific keywords that you set, and more. Again, this is something that only takes a few minutes but can greatly reduce the amount of spam on your site.
Beyond these tools, there are hundreds of plugins built for the sole purpose of combating comment spam. It may not seem like a big deal if your site isn’t getting a lot of direct traffic right away, but if it’s online, spam-bots can see it and try to exploiit it. Being proactive is the best defense for the sanctity of your site discussion.
Does anyone have specific tips or tricks that they’ve learned to manage spam comments and submissions?