4 Ways To Reduce Spam On Your Blog

Most of the time I talk about spam it’s commentary more than anything else. In one post back in September, I told you how to identify spam on your blog.

SPAM!
Luc De Leeuw via Compfight

This time I’m going to give you some actionable steps to reducing spam, or at least have it going into the spam filter so it’s not showing up in your comments area.

Unfortunately, there’s little to be done to eliminate spam totally. You can moderate your blog, but anyone who reads this blog knows how much I hate that (and yet so many of you still do it purposely; oh well…). You also know that sometimes there’s false spam, such as when I talked about certain browsers sending comments into the spam filter for some goofy reason.

So, we’re going to take on the next big thing, which is reducing it. Based on settings, you can probably reduce it more than mine, or you might decide you don’t want to go as far as me. I give you the steps; the settings are all yours. Here we go.

1. If you’re using a WordPress blog, in your Admin area go to Settings, then down to Other Settings. The 3rd item down says “Automatically close comments on articles older than”, and there’s a box next to it. You can check the box on the left, then put a number of days in the box and at that point in history comments will turn off.

The beauty of this is the majority of spam that comes in goes after older posts that you’ve pretty much moved on from and this takes care of that issue. The negative of this is people might read some of your older posts, especially if you link to them like I did above, but they can’t comment on it. You get to decide which of these is more important to you but truthfully, you’re always going to have more activity on your newer posts unless you’ve posted something very constructive that people can use… like this post. 🙂

By the way, though I mentioned the biggie, there are plenty of other things here that you can alter that will help block some spam. I have anything that has links in a post go to the spam filter, and I also use the comment blacklist option to block certain words and sometimes certain IP addresses, which is shown to you next to all comments, blocked or not.

2. Turn off comments on select posts. Most people won’t like this for their WordPress blogs but sometimes you might have a post that’s more of an announcement or maybe a sales post or, I’ve noticed from some bloggers, a post that’s so personal you can’t bear someone intruding their own thoughts into it.

In this case, instead of limiting it for every post, when you’re writing your post there’s something at the very bottom of the page where you’re writing your post under Discussion that’s automatically checked saying Allow Comments. If you uncheck it then that post won’t get any comments at all.

This can also be used if you decide not to use what I gave you in #1 because you want some of your posts to always be live. This way, you can pick and choose; that’s pretty neat.

3. Add images to your blog a different way. I’ve also noticed that much of the spam that seems to make its way through does so through the image area, which is really weird. I mean, what program is it that’s addressing the image on a blog post instead of the post itself?

This can be defeated in two ways. One, you can decide to upload an image you want to use to your server, then when it’s time to add an image add it via a link instead of uploading it from your computer. I picked up on that trick on a fluke and it works pretty well. The downside to that might be if you don’t have unlimited storage or little storage via your hosting company. Overall that shouldn’t be an issue.

No SPAM
K. Latham via Compfight

Something else you can do is add a plugin that’s connected to a website that supplies images. I heard of one the other day called, I believe, Pix 500, but I use one called Compfight. It’s tied into Flickr’s Creative Commons images, which means it’s done the work to determine which images bloggers are allowed to use ahead of time, thus no copyright issues. It has its own settings that you can alter within the Admin panel so that if you like a certain size of images each time you can make it so. Ah, I love when my inner Captain Picard comes out. 🙂

4. Use the GASP plug-in. By now, if you haven’t heard of this plugin you’re years out of the loop. It not only helps reduce spam to the point that you can alter settings to block certain types of spam from ever getting to your blog in the first place, but you have multiple selections you can make such as determining whether someone has to stay on your post for a certain length, determine if they have to write so many words, or even verify trackback links to see if those sites are legitimate.

I’m not going to get too deep into the settings on this one because there’s a ton. Instead, I will say there are good and bad things about this one as well. The good is obviously eliminating as much spam as you want to from ever getting onto your blog, which means you don’t have to moderate anything… well, almost.

That’s part of the bad. Sometimes it’s so strong that it starts blocking people who’ve come to your blog for years, who you sometimes give a free pass to a short comment or maybe they’re responding to your response to their comment. Sometimes having these things go to your spam filter isn’t a bad thing at all. After all, blogs are supposed to be about engagement, so there should be some allowances here and there; don’t you agree?

I think this has gotten long enough so I’m going to stop there. These tips should drastically reduce your spam on their own, and if you tweak some of the other settings you can reduce it even further. Good luck with it all and let me know how it works for you.
 

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4 Things You Can Do With Your WordPress Blog You Might Not Know Already

You know, every day it seems like I discover something new about WordPress. Some of these things I’m betting many of you know, but I’m also betting that the majority probably doesn’t know these things. So, I thought I’d share a few things to help everyone become more proficient with their WordPress blogs.

First, let’s talk about the Add New Post area. I’ve always used the HTML version instead of the WYSIWYG version, which means I code all my stuff. However, in this newer version it actually gives me some choices of things I can do that I don’t have to specifically write code for anymore. By just highlighting the text, I can then decide to bold, italicize, link, and do a host of other things I had never noticed before. That stuff hasn’t always been there, and like ads on many blogs, you just go blind to stuff. For me, the only ones I’ll probably use are bold, italicize, ul, ol and li. List posts will be much easier now; whew!

Second, while still here, y’all know about the Upload/Insert thing as it applies to adding pictures and the like, correct? You know that little box next to these words is if you want to add an image to your blog post, right? When you click on it, you can select an image from your computer and pop it into your post. You’re usually given four choices to select from if your image is large enough: thumbnail, medium, large and full size. Did you know that you can change the sizes of the first three?

What you do is go into your settings at the bottom left and select Media. Once you click on it you’ll see the 3 choices. I alter the size of medium to have a width of 235, which is just slightly less than half the width of my content area. I have the max height around 300. For the large, I changed the size to 480 because that’s the full width of my content area on this blog, and I made that the max height as well. I left thumbnail alone because making it smaller makes the image hard to see, and making it larger means it’s not quite a thumbnail anymore. If you like the images you’re putting into your blog to always be the same size, this works wonders.

Next, have you been getting more spam comments than normal lately? Do you look at the IP addresses and notice that many of them that come in on the same day come from the same IP addresses? If so you can have these particular IP addresses send these comments directly to your spam filter instead of having to do it manually.

You do that by highlighting and copying the number, then go to setting and Discussion. Go all the way down to where it says Comment Blacklist and paste the number in there. Save and you’re on your way. I also use that for some people that come by often to comment but their comments are a bit dodgy, as Sire might say.

This way it’s kind of a moderation for you to determine whether you want to allow that comment to show on your blog post or not. Some might say I’m now moderating comments, but these are people who have proven that they really aren’t participating in the process, including ever responding to questions you might ask them in a comment; trust me, I’ve tested this.

The last thing I’m going to talk about are screen options. Every page you go to in your admin area is also called a ‘screen’. If you look at the top right of each page you’ll see something called screen options. If you click on that, a menu drops down that shows you everything on that particular page except your menu to the left. You can now select stuff you want to see and stuff you don’t want to see.

For instance, on my posts page I keep things really simple because I don’t need to see all those tags and a lot of other stuff next to each post. I limit mine to title, categories, comments, date and Post Rank, which is a plugin I’ve talked about in the past. I know I’m the only author on this blog, so I don’t need to keep seeing my name.

As a by-the-way item, you can also move most things around on your screen to where you’d rather see them. Just put your mouse over the top of each window, hold down on your left mouse button, and drag the window to where you’d like it to be. Move it slowly and you’ll see impressions show up and drop your window where you’d like. Sometimes you might have to move in increments if you’re making a drastic move.

There you are, 4 things you may or may not have known. Of course, this might spark someone to write a post of their own on things they know that I didn’t know, but if you’re going to do that make sure you’ve looked at my post on 5 Areas You Should Know More About In Your WordPress Admin Area and then the followup, 5 More Things To Know About Your WordPress Admin Area.
 

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5 More Things To Know About Your WordPress Admin Area

About 3 weeks ago I wrote a post titled 5 Areas You Should Know More About In Your WordPress Admin Area. Some folks who commented said they’d love to know more. I don’t always do an “ask and you shall receive” type of post, but in this case I’m making an exception, so here’s 5 more things to talk to you about.

1. Screen Options. At the top right of every admin page, there’s something that’s called Screen Options. If you click on it, every box you see on that particular page will have a check mark in it. There might be some unchecked you want, and you might see some that you decide you don’t need to see anymore. This is another way to help customize everything, and if you’re someone using All In One SEO and you’ve done the latest upgrade you’ve probably noticed how it’s added some columns to your Posts admin page, and thus things are looking screwy. Going into Screen Options allows you to get rid of some of those things you probably don’t care about.

2. Permalinks. Unless you’re pretty savvy, you probably have the date contained within your link right now. That’s not a drastic problem, but it’s killing your SEO and making your link sometimes 8 characters longer than it has to be. If you look at it, you’ll see 5 options for changing how your link will look. I suggest going to the last option which has nothing there, then typing this in (or just copy it from this post): /%postname%/. What this does is puts your title in the link all by itself, with each word separated by a dash. Take a look at my link and you’ll see it there. Now, this won’t go back and fix any of your previous posts, but if you want to do that I suggest a plugin called Permalinks Migration Plugin. It works great, but then you’ll have to remember to go back through all your posts and in any of them where you linked internally you’ll have to manually change those links, otherwise they won’t work for your visitors.

3. Widgets. Almost anything you see in your sidebar that you didn’t actually go in and create is probably a widget. You have the ability to add, remove, or move these widgets around so that you can customize the look of your blog.

To get there, first click on Appearance, then click on Widgets. Once there, look to the far right. You’ll either have one sidebar option or more than one, depending on how many columns your blog has and how old it is. Click on the arrow next to the sidebar and you’ll see a list, if you have any widgets, of what’s in there. To the left you’ll see a bunch of other widgets that you can add to your sidebar. At the bottom you may or may not see some widgets. Anything not already in play can be pulled back in; all you have to do is click on the top bar, hold it with your mouse, and move it wherever you want it to go.

The Text widgets all need some kind of customization, because they’re empty. This is where you’d pop in code for things you might want to see, such as affiliate banners or books like I have or other such fun things like images. For all the other widgets, there might be some minor customization you can do before saving the widget. For instance, if you add the Archives widget, you’re given 2 options and a chance to rename it.

4. Categories. If you’re writing on a general topic but there are different issues involved, you wouldn’t hurt yourself to add categories to your posts. Oftentimes your blog will start ranking well on search engines because you end up having a lot of posts in certain specific categories that you’ve defined up front, and it gives you something easy to do internal links to from time to time. You can do it one of two ways. You can add a different category every time you create a new post, or you can go to Categories and put some in there ahead of time. This is also where you can delete categories if you’d like.

To get to Categories, click on Posts, then Categories. You’ll see on the left is where you create a category, and on the right is a list of categories. If you’ve never created any thing all you’ll have is probably Uncategorized; that’s terrible for your SEO, so I hope no one has kept that. Put in your category name in the first spot. Where it says “slug”, just ignore that. I have no idea how that could help anyone unless you have a very long category and want to shorten it, but that wouldn’t help your SEO all that much most of the time so just leave it be. The next thing is Parent, and I leave that alone, but you don’t have to. For instance, if you were writing about Roses you might decide to then add categories such as red roses, pink roses, blue roses, planting roses, growing roses, etc. Or you could just always select the general category of roses, which is what I do. That is, on something else, not roses. lol Hit Add Category and it will show up on the right.

5. Media. I’m not sure why they didn’t just call it Images, since all you’ll see in there are images. Media is every image you’ve ever put into a blog post. The only thing you might ever really want to use this for is if you want to change the written information about the image, or delete an image without having to go back to the post. If you click on Edit you’ll see the choices of information you can modify, including the title of the image. All of these choices are the same as if you were adding images by using the little box above the area where you write your content.

And there you go. If these 10 things don’t help make you more knowledgeable about your admin area, I don’t know what will. Happy reading!


Everything for the Fan

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