And That's Why You Always Manage Your SpamWhile 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?

If y’all weren’t aware, I’m a big fan of my site host, WP Engine. One of the coolest features that their service has (in addition to built in security, caching, CDN and backups), is the ability to make a staging version of your site with a single click, and copy the staging version to your live site just as easy.

This is where an issue has arisen however. Yesterday morning before my last post, I made a snapshot of my site for staging, so that I could make a few tweaks and test some code. When someone tried to comment on the post, and when I tried to respond, they were redirected to the staging site.

Thanks to the help of a quick WP Engine employee, it was determined that Jetpack (which was managing my comments) was authorized on the staging site when I made my snapshot, and for whatever reason that was chosen to be the default. Simply de-authorizing it on the staging site fixed the issue.

Even though that was an annoying hiccup that I didn’t catch myself, my host quickly did and rectified it. Hopefully I can save a few people out there some time with this 🙂

Last week, several women’s rights organizations began a campaign to have advertisers pull their marketing budgets from Facebook, in response to domestic violence against women images that were getting posted. As of this writing, 15 major companies are reported to have done so due to this outcry.

Very quickly I’m going to jump out of the story to put my clarification that I do not condone domestic violence against women (or against men for that matter, another big issue). Some people may start reading this, realize that I’m a man trying to start a discussion about this, and either discount my opinions entirely or claim that I’m trying to legitimize it. That is entirely within your rights to do so, but I do hope that I can be heard out a bit.

Continue reading “This Man’s Take on Women in Tech”