I work with a number of individuals and businesses that use WordPress and other content management systems (CMS) to manage their websites. One of the great benefits of these systems is the ability to easily and regularly produce content for your site that your potential and existing customers and clients can engage with through comments and sharing. The challenge that arises is that with the ease of sharing comments, you attract the efforts of spammers, hackers and less than upstanding marketers infiltrating your comment systems and contact forms with junk.
I’ve found myself frequently sharing with clients how to identify spam comments as they come in so they can quickly moderate their site without spending too much time on that effort. I decided I should just take an example and post it and then I could direct future questions from clients to this post.
This is a spam comment submitted through the standard contact form. Here are a few triggers that I see that tell me it’s a spam comment. Although not 100% proof, the likelihood is there so we’ll treat it as spam:
Here’s what I quickly saw:
- Odd looking email address. Almost anything I see that doesn’t end in a normal .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz is a red flag. Also in this case, email address doesn’t seem tied to the person’s name either (can’t always assume it should, but another good flag)
- Phone number. If a real person didn’t want to leave their phone number it would probably be blank, or something like 000-000-0000. Another flag.
- Misspelled words. Again, sadly, not another certainty, but sure doesn’t help. Another flag.
- Overall the comment isn’t related to anything about your business, or potentially a post that was written that they were commenting on. Or it’s a very generic and general comment that really doesn’t add anything to the conversation.
After all of this, you might ask yourself. Why would someone leave a comment like this in the first place? There are no links included, etc.
The key is that “someone” probably didn’t leave this comment. A computer did. Many website comment moderations systems have an option that in order to leave comments on a post each comment must be approved, or a user must have an already approved comment in the system.
So, once they’ve been had one comment approved, any future comments they leave will be automatically approved. Seemingly benign comments like the one above will be left to hopefully get approved and slip through the system, then an onslaught of comments will start flooding in and all of those will start having links or other “ad” spam content in them.
Hope that helps.
Hope that helps.