Approve a Comment or Spam It? How to Moderate Your WordPress Blog

spamIf you publish a blog using WordPress, most likely you’re looking for comments on your posts.

One nice thing about using WordPress is automatic comment notification. When set up correctly, you get an email with an actionable alert when a new comment is submitted.

If your site is set up professionally, your blog likely holds your comments for moderation. This means you must review and approve them before they appear publicly. (There are other ways to handle comments, but that’s for another post.)

How to Tell When You Have a Comment to Review

Any time someone comments on a post for a blog you moderate, you get an email message like this:

[Your blog name in brackets] Please Moderate: “Your Post Title”

The body of the message identifies:

  • the name or nickname the author gives
  • The author’s email address
  • The url the author gives (if any)
  • a link to a Whois record so you can look up who has registered the IP address if you wish
  • The comment body

Finally, you get three options to process the comment:

  • approve
  • trash
  • mark the comment as spam

These options are live links in your email notification, and clicking them will take you to the moderation page you need to  carry out your task (once you log in).

Now, the question often comes up: How to tell if a comment is spam?

How To Tell If a Comment Is Spam

Spam comments are made by people mainly looking for backlinks, without adding to your discussion. A backlink is a URL a visitor places when leaving a comment, leading back to the to the visitor’s own site. Backlinks are valuable to the comment author, so you want to approve them for legitimate comments only.

You are right to suspect spam if any of these trip your radar:

  • The comment is a such a general complement, it could apply to any of your posts – or anyone else’s
  • The person, email address, organization, or the person’s industry are completely unfamiliar to you – seemingly out of left field
  • The organization listed for that IP address is on a blacklist
  • You visit the URL captured in the notification and it is a very low-quality site (tons of ads – badly written or compiled by a robot or article spinner)

Why Should You Spam A Comment?

It is important to flag as spam any comment you determine is spam. This teaches the  spam blocker program (Akismet, which should be installed and activated) what the latest spam contains — it must learn about all the time because spammers are so mobile and constantly adopting new tactics.

If you are not sure, just put the comment in the trash (click the trash option).

One things spam sites try to do is gain ‘quality’ or credit with search engines by linking to high-quality sites.

Unfortunately, links from trashy sites hurt your quality score with search engines like Google. This can lower your own rank in search results.  So, if you’ve heard that you should not respond to spam comments or harbor them in your blog, you heard good advice.

Celebrate Getting Comments You Approve

Got a comment that’s obviously from someone who’s read your article? Congratulations. This is a big plus from many angles.  Search engines favor sites that appear active. You take advantage of this if you  blog and allow comments. Congratulations for opening the door to interacting with your readers.

Genuine comments are a good sign you are providing information people value.

Any questions you get are a good way to plan future posts and products – because you can see the real need in your market.

Real comments are a treasure to get, and a pleasure to approve.  I’m wishing you many sincere comments on your blog.

2 Responses to “Approve a Comment or Spam It? How to Moderate Your WordPress Blog

  • Thank you, Joanne for your excellent blog about comments and spamming. I especially liked your explanation about Akismet, and why it’s important to keep up to date with spamming information. And, yes, real comments are a treasure to get!

    Lesley Peters

  • Excellent article! I don’t know what I would do without Akismet, but every once and a while a comment with a spammy look to it slips through their filters. Sometimes these are written in such a way that it can be difficult to determine if they are spam or legitimate comments.

    One thing that may help is by doing a Google search for the entire comment or a portion of the comment surrounded in “quotes”. If there are dozens of other identical comments out there then it’s a pretty good bet that someone is just trying to score a free backlink.

    This is not entirely fool proof but it may help.