New WordPress Plugin To Deter Comment Spam

Late last week, I quietly released my new WordPress plugin, Comment Warning. Over the weekend, I added some extra functionality and it’s now reached the point where I’m ready to announce it to the world. So here goes.

Who Is Comment Warning For?

Comment Warning is aimed at DoFollow and ex-DoFollow blogs that have become a target for comment spammers, including those running the CommentLuv and KeywordLuv plugins.

Background

Although DoFollow and related plugins can reward your commentators (and help increase traffic), it also attracts comment spammers. These spammers often hunt for blogs through DoFollow lists or Google searches for terms related to the CommentLuv and KeywordLuv plugins.

The level of comment spam I get on this blog has become untolerable. I turned off DoFollow, but the spammers keep coming.

Comment Warning helps deal with this problem. In the 7 days that I’ve been running the plugin on this blog, 113 visitors have triggered the warning. The number of borderline spam comments have dropped.

Of course this means that the total number of comments I’m getting has dropped as well, but I’ve decided I only want genuine comments at this stage.

Compatibility

The plugin has been tested on WordPress 2.7 and 2.8.

I suspect that this plugin will NOT be compatible with the WP Super Cache plugin. I will be doing some testing in the near future and, if necessary, changing the plugin so it does work with WP Super Cache.

How Does It Work?

Comment Warning checks where visitors come from. If there are certain terms in the referring URL that may indicate that the visitor is a potential comment spammer, they will be presented with a warning message, outlining your comment policy. The message is displayed via a JavaScript modal ‘popup’ (not a real popup).

Both the list of triggers and the message are customisable, allowing you to control who is shown the message and what they are shown. If you come across another site or term that should be added, please let me know.

It is possible to redirect potential spammers to a URL of your choice, either immediately (bypassing the warning) or after a certain number of visits from the same IP address. However, my own personal view is that redirecting visitors is harsh.

A log of visits that trigger the warning is kept. This allows you quickly jump to any comments left by these visitors. It also adds a message, letting you know that the commentator has been warned in the past, to all new comment email notifications and to comments appearing in the Admin area.

What It Doesn’t Do

Comment Warning won’t help if a comment spammer comes directly to your site, rather than from a search or a page with a URL that contains one of the trigger words.

However, if they have been warned previously, this will have been recorded in the log and a message indicating this will appear next to their comments in the Admin panel and in comment notification emails.

How Do I Get It?

You can read more about Comment Warning and download it on the plugin page. Alternatively, you can get it from the Official WordPress Plugin Directory (or search for Comment Warning in the install plugin page in the WordPress Admin area).

The Official WordPress Plugin Directory

This is the first time I’ve added a plugin to the official WordPress Plugin Directory (when did it change from Repository to Directory?). The process wasn’t too hard, but it would have been much harder without the excellent Listing Your Plugin at the WordPress.org Plugin Directory post by Ronald Huereca on WebLogToolsCollection.

Other WordPress Plugin Development News

It was with some surprise that I noticed that this is my first release for almost 18 months! Time flies…

I’m working on some other WordPress plugins in the background and I’m still holding to my statement that I’ll update my old plugins and move them into the official plugin directory. I’ve also started thinking that I should tidy up and release some of the custom plugins that I use on my sites.

Time will be an issue, but I’m hoping I can get most of this done.

5 responses on “New WordPress Plugin To Deter Comment Spam

  1. Steve

    hi Stephen,
    Cool sounding plugin, and anything to battle comment spam is welcome.
    With my relatively unknown (but dofollow, and not linked here) blog I was getting a lot of spam (even with akismet) until I installed BadBehavior. I love it, but other bloggers say it is too aggressive. Anyway, I recommend it.
    One problem I have seen is “generic comment spam” which I blogged about where people cut and paste the same comment everywhere. It would be nice to have a plugin that could search google and see if a comment was really unique…
    But back to your plugin… I would set the redirect to be on by default and send the spammers to the wiki page on spam… but then my sense of humor is a little twisted.
    Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble and thanks for helping in the battle!
    Steve

  2. Palma | Buddha Trance

    Hi Stephen, while I can see how this plugin may be really useful, I find the suggestion mentioned in the comment above “I would set the redirect to be on by default and send the spammers to the wiki page on spam…” to be detrimental. In my specific case, I was just shown your warning message upon landing on your site, because I was directed here from a Google search on how to actually *avoid* borderline spam! I find it ironic in a way. So, now I am in your logs as a warned individual… :-)

    Your plugin is to actually deter comment spam, so you can expect that many people will be Googling for it and that combination of words. Just my thought.

    I have to say that Akismet + Bad Behavior are doing a great job at containing those comments, but lately I have seen cases of human generated (borderline) spam that made me anguish a little before moderating, because many times the text is on topic. But something about the way they are posted is irritating (keywords or sites I don’t want to link to).

  3. Sofia

    Stephen,

    I landed on your page via a Google search for keyword luv…I am trying to understand what is going to be the best comment strategy in the long run. Since I have only been at this for five months, the ropes are a bit new to me and NO I don’t have time to be moderating the junk that is coming to my sites but would welcome more of the back links.

    So, if I am reading your blog correctly, keep keywordluv, download comment warning and ditch dofollow. Is that correct?

    Thanks Stephen!

    Sofia

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Sofia,

      Sorry about the very slow response! If you want a quick traffic boost KeywordLuv and Dofollow will do it, but it’s not quality traffic and it will result in spam comments. Once you’re established, you probably won’t want them, but it does give you a leg up in the beginning.

  4. Oturia

    I’m finding that people are getting more creative with their templated comments and it is making it harder to identify them. One of the more recent ones I received was:

    “I am using the same template that you are using for your site, but mine loads so much slower than yours despite the fact that you have considerably more multimedia than mine”.

    Seems like a valid comment, but the fact of the matter was that it was on a site I had just developed with only one “Hello World” article and absolutely no other content to speak of.

    It would be nice to see some kind of comment network, like an integration of WordPress or Gravatar, that forces users to login in order to post a comment across the major blogging platforms (Blogger, WordPress, etc…). Commentors could be “graded” (like sellers on eBay). Commentors with X number of spammed comments would be banned, making a registered user ID useless after only a day or so of use.

    It wouldn’t stop spam (I really don’t think anything will) but it would make spamming blogs hosted on/with major platforms a real pain in the butt.

    It would also serve to allow people who do genuinely get out into the community and comment on do follow blogs are able to continue to do so without worrying about the whole world wide web closing itself up in a “Nofollow” closet making do follow links nearly impossible to get.

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