Stop Spam Comments in WordPress with Antispam Bee

Stefan Kremer Last updated 20.10.2020
5 Min.
Antispam Bee
Last updated 20.10.2020

Spam comments and trackbacks are more than annoying. The WordPress Plugin Antispam Bee blocks them. Unlike similar solutions, the Plugin works entirely without captchas or sending personal data to third parties. This makes Antispam Bee 100 percent compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR ).

What does Antispam Bee do?

Spam comments that pop up with generic praise for your posts along with questionable backlinks can slow down your site. They interfere with legitimate comments from real readers and are suboptimal for your SEO at the same time. What's more, any dynamic input introduced by commenters is theoretically a potential gateway for outside attacks.

There are a number of WordPress Plugins for handling spam comments. But the solution Matt Mullenweg acknowledged back in 2014 is called Antispam Bee - a Plugin maintained by the plugin collective, more on that in a moment. The first step after any installation of WordPress for me is: out with Akismet (and Hello Dolly - the only two pre-installed Plugins) and in with Antispam Bee. Akismet mainly for privacy reasons, more on that in a moment as well. If you allow comments, you should prevent spammers from clogging up the comment function on your WordPress website.

Why you need a spam blocker in WordPress

Spam takes many forms, but all types of spam have some things in common. Spam is the nickname for unsolicited commercial emails sent in large quantities from questionable websites. Or, for that matter, unsolicited comments. The motivation of spammers:

  • they want to place backlinks
  • they try to be recognized by search engines
  • or they are phishing for the personal data of users

Comment spam appears in the comments of many WordPress sites, especially new ones. These comments often contain a message proclaiming how interesting the site is. And this is without any actual relation to the content. Usually they promote some kind of product or service, and they usually contain a link to another website.

Deeplink Spam
Deep links are often a feature of spam comments

If left unprocessed, spam emails can accumulate by the hundreds per day. This can slow down your site's performance and even raise "red flags" with hosts and search engines. In addition, the attention paid to identifying and deleting these comments costs valuable time.

Spam-blocking Plugins identifies these types of email comments and filters them out, leaving only legitimate comments for the website owners. However, not all websites need spam blockers. Some websites choose to disable the comments feature entirely. This is already possible via the basic settings of WordPress (In the dashboard under Settings -> Discussion). Going a bit further, for example, is the free Plugin Disable comments from the WordPress -Plugin-directory. The comment function can be suppressed specifically for individual post types, already existing comments can be deleted completely.

When comments are disabled, spam comments cannot be submitted. However, enabling comments allows website owners to engage with visitors. This can be used to build a community and promote brands. Legitimate comments - and responding to them - are also a valuable tool for expanding the reach of your site . The Plugin Antispam Bee automatically filters comments so that (in most cases) only genuine comments from website visitors appear in the comments section of your website.

Antispam Bee blocks spam automatically

Antispam Bee was and is actively developed by the Pluginkollektiv - a German-speaking team of developers who took over much of Plugins from developer Sergej Müller at the time. Antispam Bee works with algorithms that define spam emails based on identified spam. This algorithm can "learn" new spam addresses and spam patterns as it works. Thus, unwanted entries can be filtered with greater accuracy.

Once identified, these spam comments are redirected to a spam list where they can be deleted or, depending on the settings, automatically disposed of. Only legitimate comments should pass through the moderation and reply filter. If you're trying to reduce spam or junk email on your site, downloading Antispam Bee is an easy way to do it.

Antispam Bee Options
Some of the options of Antispam Bee

Once Antispam Bee is activated, it runs in the background and blocks spam as soon as it appears. However, it is also possible to set certain parameters in the filter, such as keywords, links or addresses for processing. Since Antispam Bee is based on an algorithm, it can make mistakes. Some genuine comments may be blocked, and in some cases a few spam emails may get through.

It is therefore advisable to check the spam list periodically. This way you can see if a non-spam comment (a so-called "false-positive") has been missed. Likewise, users can manually mark comments as spam, and AntiSpam Bee will then add this information to its algorithm for future filtering.

Setting up Antispam Bee

The installation of Antispam Bee is relatively simple. After downloading it from the official WordPress Plugin directory, all you have to do is activate Plugin . This completes the basic setup. Antispam Bee does not require - unlike comparable Plugins - any connection to external servers via API keys or additional accounts at other services like WordPress .com.

This is one of the reasons why Antispam Bee is also GDPR -compliant in the basic configuration. No personal data is sent to any other people's servers. Another nice side effect of this is that if no external service has to be entrusted with the task of fighting spam, then there is no cost for it. Accordingly, you can not only download Antispam Bee for free, but also run it for free.

Spam detection with Antispam Bee

Besides blocking spam comments, Antispam Bee also provides statistics on your WordPress dashboard. These statistics show you how many spam comments have been caught by Antispam Bee and how many are in the spam folder. Antispam Bee statistics can also be displayed to website visitors on sites and posts, using the Antispam Bee widget. This can be placed in any widget area that your WordPress Theme provides.

Manage Antispam Bee on your website

Antispam is regularly updated by the plugin collective. Therefore, it is important to install updates as soon as they appear. Antispam Bee spam protection is an effective tool. But it may not be the only comment managementPlugin your website needs during its development.

Other Plugins can be installed alongside Antispam Bee to perform various tasks related to comment moderation and management. Another component in the fight against spam can be, for example, the Blacklist Updater - also from the plugin collective - which adds detected spam terms to the comment blacklist.

On popular websites, the spam rate can be as high as 85 percent. Even smaller sites may receive hundreds to thousands of spam comments per day. Accumulated spam affects both the functionality and authority of your WordPress site. But Antispam Bee's constantly evolving algorithms can block most spam automatically. This allows you to focus on legitimate visitors to your site .

About the Plugin Collective

The Pluginkollektiv is a group of WordPress -people from Germany and all over Europe. We have come together to maintain some popular Plugins in the WordPress .org-Plugin directory. The Pluginkollektiv consists of real people. Most of them are connected to the WordPress ecosystem in one way or another.

Some are freelance developers, others focus on interfaces, others on accessibility, project management or translations. What unites the team are the common, deep roots in the WordPress community. Everyone in the plugin collective works voluntarily, in their spare time and unpaid. The collective does not earn any money with the work on Plugins, it is not an agency and does not take on any customer orders.

Questions to Stefan or the plugin collective

What questions do you have about Antispam Bee or the work of the Pluginkollektiv? Feel free to use the comment function. You want to be informed about new contributions to WordPress ? Then follow us on Twitter, Facebook or via our newsletter.

Stefan is WordPress Contributor as moderator at WordPress .tv and organizer of WordPress -Meetups and WordCamps. As a freelance IT system consultant, he works mainly in the web environment and is increasingly involved with WordPress . He is an active member of the Plugin Collective.

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