Take control – A beginner’s guide to spam and how to spot it …

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There is a debate about whether or not you should manually moderate all comments before allowing them to appear on you blog. I personally do not moderate every comment. I do moderate every first comment from a reader and it is usually fairly easy to spot who is genuine and who is a spammer.

Spammers should not be allowed on your blog if you can possibly prevent it. They will, if you are not keeping an eye on the ball, fill your post comments with their advertisements for everything from Russian brides to sex aids, training shoes to financial scams.

Should  a spammer get through the many barriers WordPress has put in their way, a vigilant blogger will soon spot their comments and consign them to the spam folder with a single click. Once sent to spam, Askimet generally gets the message pretty quickly and all future comments from that source will also be sent to spam.

Every WordPress blog has a spam folder. It is easy to find via the classic dashboard, accessed by clicking My Sites (top left of screen) > scroll down to WP Admin > Comments – then click into ‘spam’.

You could just leave the spam folder to get on with it, consigning the odd comment to its murky depths, but it is well worth making a habit of checking and emptying in regularly. I get a lot of spam, so I check at least once a day so that I only have a few pages to go through. Many people get very little spam and months will go by before a page is filled… if you keep an eye on the folder, you’ll soon see which end of the spectrum is yours.

Image result for cartoons spam

You should, however, check the folder because, quite frequently, legitimate comments from friends and regular readers wind up being shunted in amongst the garbage for no apparent reason. It is worth letting the person concerned know this is what has happened as, if it becomes a regular occurrence, they can contact support for help resolving the matter. (See below).

If you are finding a lot of legitimate comments in spam you can also contact Akismet Staff yourself directly at http://akismet.com/contact/ and type ‘spam’ in the search bar. A menu will appear from which you can choose the most appropriate statement.

Image result for cartoons spam

Legitimate comments may also end up as spam if they contain links. Depending upon your chosen settings, comments with any link, or with more than one, may be automatically spammed instead of being put on your pending comments list for approval. Pingbacks always go to pending and require manual approval.The ‘pending’ folder can be found on the comments page menu and contains anything awaiting manual approval.

Some comments will be cold-bloodedly sent to spam… or trashed… at least on my blog, legitimate or not:

“Wow, fantastic article! Please check out my blog/buy my book/follow me at http://dontbesogullible.com”

I am always happy to read relevant material from other writers who leave a link in a genuine comment. Those who wish to promote their work are welcome to contact me to discuss being a guest on the blog… I do not like enforced promotion through irrelevant links in otherwise pointless comments.

Spam comes in many guises and the unwary often open the door to spammers through a seemingly innocuous or complimentary comment.

“I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!”

A novice writer will flutter with pleasure reading this type of thing… experienced writers are not immune either. So how do you know whether it is a genuine compliment or spam?

Check the sender.

In the spam folder you have access to the sender’s email and often a website address. You do not have to click on them, just look at them first. If their email advertises ‘russian women want…’, ‘designer…’ or ‘cheap..’ anything, it is spam. Hover the mouse over websites to get a preview without clicking…that can tell you a lot.

If all else fails, click through… genuine blogs have lots of interesting posts, not just curated that is a mish-mash of financial/political articles. Some effort is made by a genuine blogger… and there are normally more than half a dozen posts. ‘About’ pages that still have the ‘lorem ipsum‘ placeholder are also usually a no-no. Granted, a few new bloggers may not have completed their ‘about’ page and may only have posted a few times, but you can generally tell at a glance…

If there is no website, it is probably spam, although occasionally readers who are not themselves WP bloggers  may show up without an avatar or website.

Beware too of those websites that have been taken down when you visit them. There may be good reason for that… Or it may be one of my pet niggles… a legitimate blogger who has changed their blog to a new site but forgotten to update their Gravatar profile with their new site address….

Language is also a giveaway. The international blogging community contains writers from across the globe, many of whom do not write in English as their first language. A few errors or an odd turn of phrase does not make them spammers. However… this sort of thing definitely does:

“Considerably, the actual publish is usually the finest about this deserving topic. I agree with your results and in addition could excitedly anticipate your potential updates. Merely just stating thank you’ll not merely you must be sufficient, for that wonderful quality inside your writing. I’ll appropriate away seize your rss feed to stay up-to-date with any kind of updates. Genuine perform and in addition considerably achievement inside your enterprise dealings!”

Image result for cartoons spam

You quickly get the hang of checking through spam in a matter of minutes:

  • Anything that doesn’t have a Gravatar picture is unlikely to be from a fellow blogger… but sometimes people have not set up a full Gravatar profile, so be wary of deleting them.
  • Comments by invisible people without profile pics and on ancient posts are probably spam.
  • Essays half a page long or more are almost always spam… but occasionally they are really interesting comments.
  • The same or similar comment from multiple sources, or the same source sending multiple comments at once, is spam.
  • Calculated insults are spam.  We are not talking about criticism, debate or disagreement here…all of which are legitimate comments… but those baldly insulting comments designed solely to provoke a response from the writer. Remember that by responding to a comment, you automatically ‘approve’ it.

Once you get your eye accustomed to the type of thing that constitutes spam, you do not have to read the comments in your spam folder… a glance will tell you whether to restore or delete…. and there is an ’empty spam’ button

so you can approve individual comments and mass-delete the rest.

One last thing to bear in mind… your blog is your blog. You set the standard and decide where the limits are. While I welcome questions, debate and differing opinions, I will not permit comments that breach standards of human decency, respect and compassion to be visible on these pages. I will not tolerate trolls, whether they aim themselves at me or my readers. They are, in my opinion, also worthy of the spam folder.

Image result for cartoons spam



About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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85 Responses to Take control – A beginner’s guide to spam and how to spot it …

  1. Ritu says:

    Great clear advice here Sue!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Susan Scott says:

    Thanks Sue – Aksimet is great. I’ll definitely check spam folder – good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael says:

    Thanks for some really useful advice for this new blogger !


  4. I follow the same comments approval policy as you, Sue. I moderate all first-time commenters and if they are reasonable level-headed people, I allow all future comments from them.
    I agree with you as regards the importance of checking the spam folder for legitimate comments. I have (once or twice) had to apologise to a reader for the delay in approving their comment owing to it having been consigned to my spam folder, which was rather embarrassing.
    A tactic employed by some to generate clicks on their site is to reblog a post, then delete it in the hope that you will not notice that they have done so. I remember a blogger reblogging one of my posts. I thanked them on the original post and clicked through to the reblog in order to leave a thank you on their site. The reblog wasn’t there. I politely contacted the blogger (who had replied to the “thank you” (on my original post) explaining that their reblog had disappeared. They responded that they didn’t know what had happened. The reblog never reappered on their site so I can only conclude that the purpose of their action in reblogging (then deleting the reblog) was to generate clicks on their own blog. I guess the moral of the story is to always check (with new commenters) that any reblog is still present on their site before thanking them. If it has disappeared its probably a good idea to delete their comment on your original post to prevent your followers from clicking on their site.
    Thanks for your informative post, Sue. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thanks, Kevin. I do check unknown blogs who reblog or link back…they are not always legitimate, but most of them are…and I am always grateful to those who share a post.


  5. Well said, Sue. I’ve had a lot of trouble with spammers lately and this is all wonderful advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cheynoea says:

    Very nice article.


  7. jenanita01 says:

    I never knew that blogging would be so complicated… thanks for keeping us on our toes, Sue!


  8. Great advice Sue. I’m so bad about checking my spam folder. Better head on over and check it.


  9. Mary Smith says:

    Great advice, Sue. I must check my spam folder. I was going to do it after Debby Gies did a post on some of the funny comments from spammers she found in her spam box – but like so many things I mean to do…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bobcabkings says:

    I can’t even think about spam without Monty Python. Never the Less, good advice.


  11. spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam…. wonderful spam!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for this Sue. I JUST recently discovered that I HAD a spam folder. 🙂


  13. Excellent and thorough post, Sue. I made fun of spam a few weeks ago, but it is actually a serious topic deserving attention. When I was a new blogger, I was hooked a few times by comments that should have been spammed. Not pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for the advice and the reminder, Sue. I do forget to go and check the spam folder and a few of my friends do seem to end up there now and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As I’ve commented before, I seem to attract more spam than most bloggers (well over a million according to Akismet), so I now must approve every comment or they keep getting through, especially on older posts where I guess they think I won’t check for them. I usually can’t spare the time to dig thru pages and pages of spam-trash, especially since I rarely find legitimate comments when I do so. But I do make it a point to check once in a while, just to keep Akismet on its toes – lol.

    Other than that, I am in total agreement with your excellent advice. I wish I had read something like this when I first started blogging. Thanks so much for a great review.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. macjam47 says:

    Reblogged this on BOOK CHAT and commented:
    An excellent guide to recognizing and controlling spam on your blog by Sue Vincent.


  17. I get very annoyed by Spammers, but as you know Sue, I am also unfortunate enough to end up in the Spam folder myself sometimes! I am glad that you always fish me out!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. dgkaye says:

    Great post Sue. It sounds like you and I both do the same FBI tactics to investigate comments to check if they’re spammy. especially if they are new commenters. I always let my readers know if I found them in the ‘dumpster’ and appreciate the same courtesy as it seems every so often I do end up in spam. 🙂 xx


  19. Norah says:

    Great post, Sue. I don’t get a lot of spam, but I think I need to check my folder more often. I checked a few days ago after another blogger told me that WP had eaten her previous comment. There it was, actually there they were – all three duplicates. When WP ate the first, it ate the next attempts too. It was easy enough to unspam one. I always check the websites of new followers too. I don’t automatically follow, particularly if their website looks dodgy in ways you described above. I do usually click through though, so I appreciate your advice about hovering. Thanks.


  20. I moderate first time commenters.. but someone found me in their spam folder today.. some of my posts get the red light for certain body systems! But you do meet a completely different class of person there! Thanks for all the tips Sue…xx


  21. It can sure get irritating to receive all the spam emails and like you rightly advice, I check often and fish out valid comments from the chaff otherwise I would have pages and pages of spam emails. Great post.


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  23. I’ve had terrible problems in the past with all my comments going to the WordPress spam folder, Sue. Even to this day, WordPress has not been able to tell me why it keeps happening. However, the Spam Monster (touching wood) has not visited me lately.

    I check my spam folder every day, sometimes twice a day. I’m pretty good at spotting spam and will delete it, but I’ve had some eye-popping moments when reading comments on some other blogs. I do choose to moderate all comments, and I think this helps. The reason why I do that is that I once had somebody who left several nice comments and then, out of the blue, left a nasty comment aimed at another blogger on one of my posts. Due to the time difference, the comment was on the post for over six hours before I had a chance to delete it. It’s only happened once, but I’m loathed to now move away from moderating all comments.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I can understand that, Hugh and although I am happy to host differing opinions in the comments, will delete anything I consider sheer nastiness. Especially when it is aimed at others!

      I have been lucky, however, to have to do this only a couple of times across all the posts on the blog. If it became a regular occurrence, I too would moderate the lot. For now, I just make a point of reading them all.


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  25. olganm says:

    Thanks, Sue. Great advice. Recently I added Shield Security after some concern about people trying to sign into my account and I seem to get less spam now. But every time WordPress changes something there are followers whose comments end up in the spam folder. Happy New Year!


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