As a website owner, isn’t it exhilarating to see a growth in incoming traffic? Sure it is! We all have experienced it! However, when your site begins to gain traction, spam will be one of the most unpleasant things you must tend to. The moment your website starts getting a decent amount of traffic, a host of unwelcome spammers join the party. Most of these spammers are automated spam bots.
How bad could this be, you ask?
Well, let’s see. First off, if you don’t moderate comments (i.e., if you directly publish all comments without an approval), tons of irrelevant content (spam) will fill your posts and pages. This will ultimately reduce your SEO score, all thanks to automated spam bots.
If you decide to manually moderate each and every comment, checking them for spam and authenticity, well, you’re going to need a lot of time. This technique has another disadvantage. Apart from requiring significant human effort, spam comments will keep filling your WordPress database. This weighs down your database and makes it slow.
Of course, we have a number of solutions for this problem. This article lists the best anti-spam WordPress plugins. You can choose any one of them (make sure you go through their features first) and enjoy the pleasures of hassle-free comment moderation.
We’ll begin with the simplest of WordPress plugins.
Developed by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, this is one of the most popular cloud-based and free anti-spam plugins for WordPress. Akismet employs a web service powered by cloud servers, which evaluates comments for spam. First, you need to connect to the cloud service using an API key, which can be obtained by registering for the service.
A couple of comments blocked by Akismet
The plugin uploads all incoming comments to Akismet’s cloud servers, where highly specialized algorithms evaluate the validity of the comments. Some are caught red-handed and shifted to the spam queue. The squeaky clean ones are directly moderated and published. If Akismet gets stuck, i.e., can’t decide for good whether a particular plugin is spam or not, it moves the comment to the moderation queue.
Akismet is free for personal and noncommercial use, with a limit of 50,000 comment checks a month. The paid plans start from $5 a month, which is a pretty sweet deal for spam. It also seamlessly integrates with the Jetpack and Contact Form 7 plugins.
Anti-Spam by CleanTalk—No Captcha, No Comments & Registrations Spam
CleanTalk is a premium cloud-based antispam plugin for WordPress, which blocks spam comments, spam bot signups, and trackbacks.
The plugin is very similar to Akismet in that the incoming comments are uploaded to CleanTalk’s cloud servers where they undergo multiple validation checks. Depending on the results, the comments are then moved to the spam queue or are approved and published.
Cloud-based protection options from CleanTalk
The plugin maintains advanced statistics of blocked spam comments and a spam comment log. It also supports a long list of third-party plugin compatibility, such as W3 Total Cache, Jetpack, Contact Form 7, WooCommerce, BuddyPress, bbPress, and WP-Members.
It offers a 14-day free trial, after which a commercial license costs $8/year for a single website.
WangGuard is another cloud-based anti-spam plugin with tons of amazing spam validators. As with Akismet, you need to connect to the service using an API key and the rest follows.
Sample comments blocked by Wanguard
The basic usage of the plugin is free for up to 5,000 daily comment checks, while the premium one has varying degrees of pricing. WangGuard also offers some awesome add-ons, such as MailPoet Connector, Blacklisted Words, and others.
Anti-Spam Bee is a completely free WordPress plugin for both personal and commercial uses. Unlike Akismet, Anti-Spam Bee does not require user registration. However, this plugin does not use cloud-powered spam detection algorithms. It relies on server-side techniques, such as matching it against a public spam database, validating the IP address of commenters, using regular expressions, and trusting commenters with Gravatar as nonspammers.
Host of options offered by Anti-Spam Bee
It also clears the WordPress database of previously stored spam every few days and hence prevents it from slowing down. Moreover, the plugin displays spam statistics and emails the moderators the daily spam blockage statistics.
WordPress Zero Spam
This is a completely free anti-spam WordPress plugin built based on a concept developed by Mozilla founder David Walsh.
An overview of settings from WordPress Zero Spam
The plugin plays on a very basic assumption that any comment that isn’t spam must be typed from a valid—even the most basic—web browser. It could be either a mobile or a desktop version. The plugin employs a clever server and a client-side comment validation technique that nips the spam bots at the bud.
The plugin also integrates with popular plugins, like Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms, and BuddyPress.
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
Growmap Anti Spambot (GASP) is a free plugin that inhibits spam bots by adding dynamically generated named fields to the comment form.
The plugin’s settings page
The plugin adds a client-side-generated checkbox to the WordPress comment box, which the users must check to confirm that they are not a spammer.
WPBruiser (No Captcha Anti-Spam}
From the plugin’s page:
“WPBruiser (formerly GoodBye Captcha) is an anti-spam and security plugin is based on algorithms that identify spam bots without any annoying and hard to read captcha images.”
The developer claims that the plugin does not display any captchas or common validation mechanisms to the visitor. The plugin does not let spam enter your WordPress site. However, this poses a certain risk in case the plugin reports a false positive.
Update on 16 Feb 2016: Mihai was kind enough to clarify this for us. He says that the plugin offers the possibility to log all blocked content for any form that it protects.
- In the Settings tab there is an option: “Keep Blocked Submitted Content For,” which defaults to 10 days. Any blocked content older than this value will be automatically deleted. Of course, the admin can change this value. By setting the value to zero days, the plugin will not log a blocked attempt’s content.
- One can also see every blocked request information. Simply go to the Reports tab. For each blocked attempt, you have the option to “View Blocked Content.” Click on that, and you’ll see the formatted blocked attempt.
General Settings page of WPBruiser
This is a slight disadvantage. If you are willing to take this small risk, then Goodbye Captcha is a great choice. This plugin integrates with the WordPress login and registration page apart from the comment form. It also has features like IP blacklisting, optional logging, statistics, and report generation. It is compatible with a host of third-party plugins.
Stop Spammers Spam Prevention
This plugin is yet another awesome server and client-side anti-spam WordPress plugin with over 20 different checks for spam comments. The plugin also prevents login page spam and has over 12 pages of options for heavy user customization.
One of the many settings page of this plugin
In case of spam detection, users get a second chance to post their comments or to log in. In such cases, a captcha challenge will appear. Upon determining which comments are acceptable, the plugin supports Google reCaptcha, OpenCaptcha, and SolveMedia Captcha as the captcha challenge services.
As a WordPress site owner, I think the choice of picking the right anti-spam WordPress plugin depends on the characteristics of the traffic you’re receiving.
If you are mostly publishing “list type” articles, then chances are that your visitors will be suggesting new or different products on the list. Anti-spam algorithms might consider this as advertising spam, moving such valid comments directly to the spam queue. Therefore, I would recommend going through the spam queue if the number isn’t so high.
In my opinion, if you have a moderate amount of traffic with active/recurring/inquisitive comments, then the local solution would do just fine. If you are absolutely new to WordPress, Akismet is your best bet. However, if you run a typical viral site, then a cloud-based solution like Akismet or WangGuard would be awesome.
You can also follow these tips to keep your website clean from unnecessary files, database entries, and more. Keeping your website clean will improve your website’s load speed. For more information about WordPress performance, make sure to read this guide.
Have we missed your favorite anti-spam WordPress plugin? Let us know and we’ll add it to our list! Thanks for reading!