How to Moderate Blog Spam Better than Luke Hellier

This is a quick lesson in “Do as I say, not as Luke Hellier does”.

If you take pride in your blog and your blog’s appearance, don’t allow spammers to overrun your comments. It’s unprofessional and gives the impression that you really don’t care about your audience or your appearance.

For an example of what NOT to do, here’s a recent screengrab of comments Luke Hellier allowed to go live on his website below an article titled, “What’s everyone saying about Tom Emmer”.1.

Screen shot 2010-05-02 at 8.58.48 PM

Notice that comments 3-6 share a similar format. They have some sort of commercial intent and provide no on-topic commentary. This is because they’re trackback spammers who’ve pinged Luke’s blog in order to generate a link back to their website. The first 6 comments all had this in common. Allowing your blog to become a host for spammers is a sign of either incompetence or just plain disrespect for readers. It’s like being the one person who let their kid get vaccinated, and went on to infect a good portion of the school with a new supervirus.

As you can see, I left an on-topic comment and threw Luke some unsolicited advice on how to be a better blogger:

Screen shot 2010-05-03 at 10.32.31 AM

Did Luke take my advice? Kind of. He deleted the spam that had built up on that post AND he deleted my comment. But don’t worry. It’s didn’t take long for Luke to earn more comments on his post . . . in the form of even more spam:

Screen shot 2010-05-03 at 10.27.52 AM

How to be Not like Luke

You may be thinking to yourself “I don’t want to be as unkempt at Luke Hellier’s blog, so what do I need to do technically to show that I have some pride in my appearance?” If that’s the case, here’s what you need to do (assuming you’re also running your blog on WordPress): Nothing.

Nothing?

Nothing.

Why?

Because WordPress, by default, doesn’t allow that type of spam to go live. But if you uncheck a box that’s checked by default, you may end up as unkempt as Luke Hellier. To confirm, go to Settings > Discussion and make sure this box is checked:

Screen shot 2010-05-03 at 10.38.27 AM

With that box checked, every time a new commenter leaves a comment on your site, it will go into a moderation queue. While this does slow down the approval of comments from first time commenters, it also prevents spam from ever going live.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with Luke Hellier’s approach to comment moderation, assuming that he’d rather do something manually that’s easily automated. As long as he’s not really lazy or without pride, he should be able to stay on top of his spam issues. We can confirm this by searching for mentions of comment spammer topics, like Viagra, to find out. Looks like that term is currently mentioned over 3,000 times on MDE . . .

Minnesota Democrats Exposed and Viagra

. . . so Luke is either having a “hard” time keeping up with Viagra spam or he’s been writing about that topic more than I realized.

By the way, every popular blogging platform offers similar comment moderation options so the chances of running into the same issues Luke has brought upon himself are slim to none. Unless you’ve inadvertently changed your comment moderation status to something reckless, you’re good to go.

1. “Everyone”, from Luke Hellier’s post, is Nick Ayers, Tim Pawlenty, and Tony Sutton.

2 thoughts on “How to Moderate Blog Spam Better than Luke Hellier”

  1. I pay very careful attention to all the comments posted on my site, including trackbacks, and only approve what are real. I will go so far as to personally e-mail new commenters to ensure that they are actual human beings before approving their comments.

    Annoying for the end user? Perhaps but when you are fielding ~1000 comments by people other than yourself every month those people depend on you to make sure the comments are real. It’s good business.

    This guy just seems like a tool all around.

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