Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers


Question for fellow bloggers among my Gentle Readers?  Are you plagued with spam in your comments section? I am. It is one of the things I spend the most time weeding out. I am not talking about people who disagree, nor even comments from people who dislike me. That goes with the territory in having a public forum like this.  I mean real spam:

  • I get links to commercial products
  • a flood of comments linking to pornographic websites (which, fortunately, I can delete without visiting!)
  • links purporting to be from Hillary Rodham Clinton (but which are actually from rightwing Hillary-hater sites)
  • links purporting to be from Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey or, on the other side of things, from Bill O’ Reilly. (If I really had Bill O’Reilly notice my humble blog enough to get mad at it, I would think I had done something right!)

By far, the most common of these are simply attempts to sell something. And, usually, the spam blocker catches them. I spend too much time deleting them, but, I am usually able to do so before they appear on the comments site.  But it is all tiring–and would be much worse if I allowed comments with no screening at all.

How widespread is this problem? I am wondering if I attract more than most, less, or about average. Currently, my spam blocker has nearly 700 comments. That’s about how many I get on an average month.

Personally, I would rather hear from more of you readers who lurk without commenting than to hear from advertisers, nasty porno purveyors, or whatever.  Agree, disagree, like what you read here or want other things, please let me know. I read all the comments, anyway, including enough of the spam to see what it is. I take all REAL comments seriously–friendly or otherwise.  After all, my critics are my teachers–yes, including my virtual friends, Chance (of the blog Zoo Station), Looney (of Looney Fundamentalist–a self-description), and D.R. Randle–my most prolific critics.


December 14, 2007 - Posted by | blogs


  1. I don’t know about wordpress, but blogger has an option that forces commenters to enter a security key, like: Type the code you see in the box: JfK5R3. That keeps the spam-crawlers out. Does wordpress not have that option?

    Comment by Thom Stark | December 15, 2007

  2. No, Thom, it doesn’t. It does flag all comments from new posters and allow me to mark as spam those which are.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 15, 2007

  3. I have had great success with the Akismet plugin. I might have to delete one or two spam comments a month, and then I clean out what Akismet traps whenever it gets up to around 100 items (although it deletes them all automatically after so many days).

    Comment by D. P. | December 15, 2007

  4. I use a combination of Akismet and Bad Behavior plug-ins combined with a comment closing feature where comments are closed on an entry after a certain amount of time.

    Comment by Scott | December 15, 2007

  5. I have Askimet and it works, but I still have to check to see if over 50 comments a week are spam or not.

    I have been reluctant to close comments, but maybe I should put a time elapse feature on them. Thanks for the advice.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 15, 2007

  6. I’ve only ever got two pieces of genuine SPAM but I don’t have very many readers (I only get about 150 unique hits a week).

    Comment by PamBG | December 15, 2007

  7. I don’t currently publish a regular blog, but I am fairly current on all these spam blocker methods (web design is a hobby, and I’ve written custom spam blocker scripts for blogs that I’ve put together). Like Thom said above, CAPTCHA methods (random words/images/math challenges) do the best job of keeping spammers out, although it is also one of the most obtrusive methods (meaning it gets in the way for people actually leaving comments).

    WordPress does have a few CAPTCHA plugins. Google “Peter’s Custom Anti-Spam Image” or “reCaptcha” for a couple examples.

    Regarding your comment about me, a lurker, I originally subscribed to your blog because I thought we’d disagree a lot (I labeled you as a liberal and myself as a conservative). I like being challenged in my beliefs, and you seemed like an intelligent blogger. I find that we often disagree on a lot of issues, but we also agree on a lot, a lot more than I thought we would. The more I think about it, most people hold both liberal AND conservative ideas. Maybe my classifications of “liberal” and “conservative” need to be adjusted, or perhaps thrown out altogether.

    Comment by Chris Huff | December 15, 2007

  8. Chris, Thanks very much for both the CAPTCHA advice and the great comments. That kind of feedback is important. I agree, I am conservative on some issues, centrist or moderate on others, and “liberal” or progressive on still others. Maybe these labels aren’t as helpful as we think??

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 15, 2007

  9. Michael, there are quite a few decent captcha plug-ins for wordpress that do what Thom talks about.

    Also, I don’t know if this works on wordpress.com, but you should be able to set you moderation to automatically delete certain comments, without sending them all to moderation.

    Finally, if things ever got too bad, you could require people to sign-up to comment. I think that would be better than turning-off comments completely.

    (Btw, 700 a month ain’t too bad!)

    Comment by graham | December 16, 2007

  10. I see that my WordPress blog has a thing called Akismet, which seems to have caught a lot of comment spam.

    I also have met WordPress blog to moderate first-time commenters, so some spam is caught that way, but Akismet catches most of it. If I approve of posts by someone, then that person is allowed to post unmoderated in future.

    I sometimes delete off-topic posts, including personal attacks that say nothing about the content of the post, but just things like “u r an idiot”. I don’t mind disagreement but off-topic ad hominems are just a waste of space.

    Comment by Steve | December 18, 2007

  11. That’s generally how my WordPress blog does it, too, Steve.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | December 18, 2007

  12. Michael are you using Akismet? If so, you should rarely have to check it for moderation. I’m not sure it’s ever mistakenly labelled anything as spam for me.

    I just go in every morning and click ‘Delete All’ under /wp-admin/edit-comments.php?page=akismet-admin. This is different to the ‘awaiting moderation’ tab which I do tend to check more carefully.

    Comment by graham | December 18, 2007

  13. I have hardly any problems, and that is without the password thingee.

    Maybe once a month or every other month, I’ll find a spam comment.

    Comment by Dan Trabue | December 18, 2007

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