Comment spam is a major problem for many WordPress website owners. There are very few sites that are not faced with the problem of combating an endless stream of nonsensical comments. Websites in certain industries have it worse than others – for example, sites in the medical field are often more prone to spam comments.
The never ending flood of spam comments has given rise to a number of anti-spam plugins. A combination of both free and paid plugins are available to make it easier for site owners to put an end to spam, or at least decrease its frequency.
Akismet is by far the most popular choice when is come to plugins. With over 24 million downloads at the time of writing this post (42 million as of the recent update), Akismet is developed by the team over at Automattic, and is completely free for personal use. No other plugin comes close to it, in terms of downloads.
For business use, the cost is a mere $5 / month. I think the price is fairly reasonable as it will save you a lot of time in long run. I mean, if you don’t use Akismet, you can attract hundreds or even thousands of spam comments every day. At WPKube, we get around 3000 spam comments every day, all of which are automatically deleted by Akismet after 15 days. If we had to go through and manually inspect or delete comments, well, you can imagine how much time that would take.
As good as Akismet is, there are some great alternative plugins. GASP is one such plugin. The plugin is developed by Andy Bailey, who also happens to be the guy behind CommentLuv, another useful plugin for site owners.
If you’re growing tired of dealing with comment spam, this article will show you how to put an end to spam on your WordPress site using GASP plugin.
GASP (also known as Growmap anti spambot plugin), uses a simple function that adds a client side generated check box in the comment form. With over 250,000 downloads, it is pretty clear that GASP is a great alternative for website owners. I don’t use GASP on this blog, but I know a lot of bloggers who do. GASP has some unique features. First, it add dynamically named fields to each comment box which means every post has different fields. This feature directly targets learning bots. Second, GASP will also remove all links from comments that are waiting for moderation – as long as you haven’t made the mistake of previously approving one of their spam comments.
There are a few additional but important thing to note:
- The plugin only works with the default WordPress comment system
- No additional database tables are added
This plugin has been downloaded over a quarter million times and still manages to maintain a 3.9 rating on WordPress.org, which is not bad at all.. GASP is designed to do one thing: Block automated spam comments. That’s the real problem we are dealing with. Because spam is an automated process, there is virtually no end – it will eventually wear you down.
Although, this is great plugin for stopping automated comments – the author estimates it will stop 99% of spam bots – it fails at stopping human spammers and trackbacks / pingbacks. It does lets you set the maximum amount of comments a user can have in the moderation queue to protect your site from human spammers.
Installing and Configuring GASP
GASP is a free plugin and available for download on WordPress.org. First thing you need to do is install and activate Growmap anti-spam plugin. After you’ve activated the plugin, you will see a new item under Settings » G.A.S.P, which is where you will configure the plugin settings. The options page has two sections – Basic and Heuristics (optional).
One of the primary advantages that using a plugin like GASP has over services like Akisment is the elimination of almost all false positives. If you’ve ever sorted through you automatically tagged spam comments, few things are more concerning than finding comment from real visitors flagged as spam. Although it’s only a small percentage of the total comment received, it represent s a real problem. If someone takes the time to comment on your website, in mos cases, they appreciate a reply – something that is tough to do if you never see their comment in the first place.
GAPS is also a low friction option. We’ve all been faced with CAPTCHAS that are unreadable or math questions require a degree (ok, that’s an exaggeration), and they can be a real pain – especially if a visitor is visually impaired. GASP makes the process very simple for visitors – a check box.
The basic settings page allows you to change the checkbox text and disable trackbacks. You can also change the text that will be shown to users if they forget to tick the checkbox.
As you scroll down, to the bottom of the page, you will see Heuristics settings — this is where you create more advanced spam detection settings. I have not completed any fields in the advanced section. The page is used to exclude commentators if they have less than a specific number of comments in the moderation queue, set maximum number of links allowed in comment text, set maximum number of words allowed in name field, and where to send the suspicious comments – you can set it to either spam or pending.
Overall, this is a great plugin for handling spam comments in WordPress. Much easier than using captcha or a third party commenting system like Disqus or Livefyre. You should also take a look at our post on WordPress Plugins for Comment and Registration Anti Spam Protection.
We hope this article helps you solve your comment spam problem in WordPress. One thing is for sure, fewer spam comments is a good thing. If you have any questions or thoughts please let us know in the comments below.