How To Deal With Spam Without Closing Comments On Your Blog Posts

SPAM! It’s something every blogger dislikes and something every blogger will have to deal with.

I’ve seen bloggers close comments off all their posts because of spam.

I’ve seen bloggers telling readers that they only accept email comments because of spam.

I’ve even witnessed bloggers telling readers only to leave comments on social media platforms because of spam.

In all these cases, spam triumphed.

Image for the blog post 'How To Deal With Spam Without Closing Comments On Your Blog Posts'
Don’t allow spam to stop your readers from leaving comments

When another blogger told me, ‘Closing comments off on your blog is like slamming the door in your readers’ faces,’ I had to rethink how to tackle handling spam.

What was I doing? I was closing comments off posts that attracted lots of spam but still attracted genuine comments.

It reminded me of another blogger who told her readers that she tackled spam by closing off comments on all her posts 14 days after publication because of spam. She told her readers that 14 days was enough time for them to read and comment on all her posts. I shook my head in disbelief.

Many bloggers close comments on blog posts that attract lots of spam. But there are ways of dealing with spam without closing comments off.

1. Reschedule the post

Rescheduling an existing blog post gives it a new lease of life, but it also provides the post with a new URL address, thus fooling the spammers.

How to reschedule a blog post on WordPress

  • Open the post you want to reschedule in ‘edit’ mode.
  • In the settings box of the post, click on the date and time link that the post was initially published.
Image highlighting when you reschedule a blog post on WordPress
Rescheduling a blog post
  • A calendar will open. Choose the new date and time you want the post to reschedule.
Image showing a rescheduling calendar on a blog post on WordPress
Choose a new date and time for rescheduling
  • Click the ‘Update’ button.
Image highlighting the Update button when rescheduling a blog post on WordPress
The Update Button
  • Your post will now republish on the date and time you chose.

Here are a few essential things to think about when rescheduling blog posts.

  • Your post will show up on the WordPress Reader list of your followers when it republishes.
  • WordPress does not send out a new email notification when a rescheduled post is published.
  • You won’t lose all the existing comments and ‘likes’ on a post that has been rescheduled.
  • Any links, pingbacks and trackbacks to the original post will become invalid, as will any previous shares of the post on social media. I recommend, therefore, that you only reschedule posts that are at least a year old.

Tip: Rescheduling a post is also an excellent chance to update it and fix any broken pingbacks before rescheduling it.

2. Rewrite the post and republish it as a new post.

If the post is over a year old and requires lots of updating, consider rewriting and publishing it as a new post.

You can do the same with posts that you have published on other blogging platforms but which you now want to publish on WordPress.

Here are a few essential things to consider.

  • All existing likes and comments will be lost.
  • All reblog links, pingbacks and links to the post will become invalid.
  • All links and shares on social media will become invalid.
  • Some readers may dislike reading duplicated content they have read on your blog before, so do consider how long ago the post was initially published.
  • Consider informing readers that it is a rewritten version of a previous post at the beginning of your post.
  • Remember to delete the post attracting too much spam once you’ve published the new post.
  • Give the new post a slightly different title. SEOs rank posts and blogs lower that contain too many duplicated blog post titles.

3. Delete the post

Every blogger should be excellent at keeping their blog up to date. Blog housekeeping is as important as writing and publishing new blog posts.

If you have blog posts attracting lots of spam, consider deleting them if the content is outdated and no longer worth keeping. That will put pay to the spambots attacking the post and causing you stress.

However, do remember that deleting a post will also mean that any likes, comments and shares will also be lost.

Final thoughts on spam

Don’t slam the door in the faces of visitors to your blog by allowing spam to stop them from leaving comments and joining discussions and conversations on any of your blog posts.

Remember that search engines will send visitors to your blog posts for as long as the post is live. If they find they can’t leave comments and join a discussion, they may not return.

Don’t ask visitors to leave comments they couldn’t leave on your other blog posts where comments remain open. That will only confuse visitors reading the comments sections.

Get into the habit of checking your WordPress spam folder every time you log into your blog.

Delete the spam, and mark any genuine comments as ‘Not Spam.’ You can do this by changing the view setting of the comments page of your blog’s dashboard to ‘Classic view.’ My blog post, ‘New: WordPress Screen Options Button – Where, Why And How To Use It,‘ gives more details.

Spam can also be ‘bulk’ deleted when in the ‘Default view’ setting.

Spam comments rarely have an image or photo in the gravatar area of the comment (see image below).

Images highlighting spam messages that contain no Gravatar images
Spam messages often contain no Gravatar image.

Bulk delete comments that do not contain an image or photo on the gravatar.

If you’re not sure a comment is spam, look at the web address of where the comment has come from. If it doesn’t look right, it’s spam.

Image highlighting the web address of a spam comment
If the website address of a comment doesn’t look right, it’s spam!

Don’t allow spam to win!

How do you deal with too many spam comments on your blog?

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68 thoughts on “How To Deal With Spam Without Closing Comments On Your Blog Posts

  1. Very helpful post Hugh. I do get a lot of spam and when I look at it, I notice it’s on much older posts. What’s up with that? 🙂 x

    1. Older posts tend to attract comments from spambots, Debby. So long as they don’t end up on your posts, you’ve nothing to worry about. Although I recommend you empty all the comments in your spam folder daily and check for any genuine comments that may have ended up in there.

  2. Thank you for sharing your post at @esmesalon #SeniorSalonPitStop. It’s a good reminder to go through this post of you. I do get spam daily, and do a quick review and just delete them. I know it’s annoying to constantly do it, but it’s all bots, and as you say, it irks me but gives me the satisfaction that my spam filter is doing its job and they do not get through and will never be able to get through despite how many times they leave a comment. and I have come to accept it as part of blogging and have decided not to get upset, just delete it and move on.
    Thanks again for sharing your valuable post

    1. You’re handling spam exactly how every blogger should be, Esmé. It pains me when I see bloggers closing off comments and stopping their readers from engaging because of spam. It should never be allowed to win.

      1. To me, blogging is the interaction that comes from comments from your readers. I do not get nearly as many as you, but still love it when my readers ‘talk’ to me, so I will never close off comments or remove the option totally, which I have seen and know bloggers some bloggers that do not have the comments option at all. To each his own.

  3. I’ve been dealing with so much spam lately, it’s crazy. I just keep going through the comments and deleting all the spam though. It gets really at times and unfortunately it’s just one of things things we have to deal with.

    1. WordPress has antispam software which always works well for me by placing 99% of the spam straight into the spam folder. Unfortunately, some genuine comments occasionally end up in there, but because I check the folder every day, it’s much easier to fish them out.

  4. Fortunately I don’t have a spam problem at this point. WordFence Premium on my blog helps, I’m sure. Also, it may be that my web service GoDaddy controls some of the Spam. I’d go crazy if I had hundreds/thousands of spam comments to deal with besides my writing schedule. Thanks for all the advice here, Barbara!

    1. WordPress has Askimet software that helps stop spam getting into comments, Barbara, but some bloggers are getting stressed by how well Askimet does when they look at how much spam is in their spam folder. They then take drastic action like closing off comments to try and reduce the amount of spam going into their spam folder. Askimet does a good job, so it seems odd why some bloggers get so stressed by how well it does its job. The only thing they need to deal with is regularly emptying their spam folder. That’s it. Yet, instead, they will take other action that usually means visitors to their blog can not engage with them.

      I’m glad this post and advice are helping. I hope I can persuade bloggers not to allow spam to win.

  5. I LOVE the rescheduling idea and the fact that I won’t be bothering readers again, Hugh. I may be one of the people you “quoted” who had to close comments over xx days old. I really did get a LOT of spam on some of the older posts to the tune of 100 per day! I have gone through and deleted old posts. I did so first by deleting old media files and oops-google images from BITD when I didn’t know better. Then I went into the posts and where the image was not picked up I simply deleted the post. I ended up with 2 more gigs of media space! But I have several older posts that get viewed every day and those are worth republishing. Thank you so much, Hugh! BTW, I had several legit comments go into the spam folder yesterday. Maybe Askimet was down?

    1. I had no idea you had closed off comments on some of your posts attracting lots of spam, Terri. I’m guessing some of these were Sunday Stills posts which I understand would be difficult to reschedule because all the links to the post would become void. However, suppose any of those posts are not attracting much traffic or any new genuine comments. In that case, I’d consider deleting them and freeing up even more space in your media library (it’s excellent to hear you’ve been doing your blog housekeeping).

      I didn’t see an increase in the number of spam comments yesterday and only had one genuine comment (on this post) go straight to spam, so I couldn’t say whether Askimet was down or not. In any case, I’m happy it’s something WordPress offers us because it does send 99.9% of spam on my blog straight to the spam folder.

      1. These posts were from 2016-17 if I remember correctly, Hugh, thank goodness. But you have a good idea about deleting old Sunday Stills photos. Don’t tell anyone but I do recycle some of them. 😉 and thanks for the subtle shout out to SS in your graphic example 👍

        1. Recycling is always good, Terri. I go through old blog posts more than a few years old at least once a year and delete those that are no longer getting any traffic or new comments (or are outdated and can not be updated). I always come away feeling refreshed when I do it.

  6. Good advice, Hugh. We used to be inundated with spam comments on Story Empire. This may not work for everyone, but one thing we did is to check the box in discussion settings that required users to be registered and logged in to comment. They don’t necessarily need a WordPress log-in, but Google or some type of social media account. That cut down thousands of spam comments each day. We still have some trickle in, but it’s much easier to filter them out and mass delete them.

    Another tip is to moderate the first time someone new posts a comment on a blog. I hate when bloggers moderate every single time but having to approve a first-time comment also eliminates a lot of spammers.

    1. I’ve heard good arguments for and against ticking the box to say that users have to be logged in or registered to be able to leave comments, Joan. It is a good way of stopping spam, but it also prevents visitors from leaving comments who don’t want to register. Given current online security issues, some people don’t want to give any details about themselves online, so you may be losing some new followers, but then not everyone wants to leave comments or join discussions.

      I used to allow comments to appear automatically if the user had left a previous comment that I approved. However, after who I thought was a friendly blogger went on to leave some horrible comments attacking another blogger on one of my posts, I went back to moderating all comments again. She left her horrible comment during the night, so it was over six hours before I saw it. Of course, I deleted it straight away, blocked her from leaving any further comments and apologised to the blogger she had attacked, but my heart was in my mouth when I saw the comment and realised it had been there for over six hours. I didn’t want to risk the same thing happening again, so I went back to moderating all comments before they appear on any of my posts.

        1. Me neither, Joan, but I see it happening a lot. I’ve even been the victim and was attacked in the comments section on another blog.
          The owner apologised to me but didn’t take the offending comment down (which I found strange).

          I’ve also had trolls visit my blog and try leaving comments, but I mark their comments as spam, block them and never reply. Trolls hate being ignored.

  7. Hi Hugh – I’d never thought about rescheduling a post – that’s a handy tip – thanks! I currently have more than 40,000 spam comments on my blog. I used to delete them every day, but I get 500 plus a day and it’s hard to keep up. The bulk delete is okay, but it only does a couple hundred at a time and it takes about five minutes each time. I’d heard that WP deletes spam automatically after a period of time, which is why I stopped, but it’s been several months and my folder continues to grow. Do you ever have this problem?

    1. Wow! What a massive amount of spam you have lurking in your spam folder. Barbara. I wonder how many of those comments are actually genuine ones that were in there by mistake. I already had one genuine comment on this post that WordPress marked as spam. It’s one of the reasons why I check my WordPress spam folder at least once a day. Otherwise, those who have ended up in the spam folder by mistake will believe I’m ignoring them – something I shudder at.

      To delete spam comments, do you use the ‘Default’ view or ‘Classic’ view? You’re only allowed to delete 20 spam comments at a time in the default view, but in the classic view, it takes just one click to get rid of them all.

      I’ve not heard of WordPress emptying spam folders after a certain amount of time. I would be rather alarmed if they did because they’d also delete genuine comments that ended up there. However, as I check my spam folder every day it’s something that doesn’t affect me.

      1. Hi Hugh – thank you for such a thorough response. I am going to try to figure out how to toggle between the classic view and the default view. Right now, the button says it’s going to delete all of the comments, but it times out and will only do about 300 at a time.

        The vast majority of comments are spam – all from sketchy sites. It’s hard to weed through them all – very frustrating. I wish I could check the spam every day, but I don’t always have the opportunity.

        1. Up in the top right corner of the screen, you should see a small box containing a down arrow and the word ‘View.’ Click on the down arrow, and you’ll see the two options you can toggle between.

          I wonder if the speed on your internet connection makes the emptying of spam time out? It’s worth checking. Whenever I come over to review comments, the first thing I always do is check the spam folder. If you do the same, you’ll soon get into the habit of emptying the spam folder. But don’t allow spam to stress you out whatever you do. Make sure visitors to your blog can engage with you despite which blog post they’re reading.

        2. Hi Hugh – thank you! Yes, I located different views and tried, but I think it’s the problem of the timing out. I’ve been deleting my spam more regularly – now I’m down to 19,000! So making progress. Life gets in the way and by the middle of the week, I have less time to do maintenance, but your advice is good advice to follow. Happy blogging, Hugh 🙂

  8. Any thoughts on why a partiular blog post would be a target more than another? I just checked and one of mine had 16 spam comments. I do need to be more diligent about checking.

    1. It can be any number of reasons, but usually when a keyword appears in the blog post’s title or within the first few lines of the post. Spambots and spammers lock on to keywords, and some spambots will lock on to a particular post and flood it with spam comments. That’s when action needs to be taken, but preferably not closing off comments because of spam.

  9. This what I do: I select a setting in the WordPress dashboard that requires me to moderate the FIRST comment of everyone who visits and leaves a comment. This allows me to see spam comments before they would post and I delete them there and/or mark them as spam. Whenever a visitor (under their same name/sign in account) leaves subsequent comments, they automatically post. So far, I haven’t had any spam comments show up under a published blog post.

    1. That’s exactly what I did, Liesbet. However, after who I thought was a friendly blogger went on to leave some horrible comments attacking another blogger on one of my posts, I went back to moderating all comments again. She left her horrible comment during the night, so it was over six hours before I saw it. Of course, I deleted it straight away, blocked her from leaving any further comments and apologised to the blogger she had attacked, but my heart was in my mouth when I saw the comment and realised it had been there for over six hours.

      I can’t remember the last time a spam comment made it through to my ‘waiting for approval’ list, but I often find genuine comments in my WordPress spam folder, which I then have to unspam.

  10. So far I have been lucky that spam went directly into my spam folder (unfortunately, some serious comments too). But however, I like the rescheduling idea. Thank you, Hugh.

    1. It is a much better option than closing off comments, especially on popular posts, Erika. Plus, rescheduling posts give us a chance to update them and put them in front of our audience again. Win-win.

        1. It can happen at any time. And when it does, I’ve seen many bloggers give in to spam and close comments off. It seems to be an easy solution for the blogger concerned, but not for visitors to their blog.

        2. Turning comments off is like turning your blog off. It lives from feedbacks and interaction. So, it is even more valuable what you shared, Hugh!

    1. Good to hear.

      I found your comment in my spam folder. Don’t know why WordPress deemed it spam, but you may want to check that other comments you’re leaving on other blogs are not being marked as spam by WordPress. If they are, you’ll need to contact WordPress about it.

  11. Great tips. I stopped following a couple of bloggers as they shut off comments. What’s the point if you can’t engage? I don’t find it difficult to delete the spam once a week or so.

    1. Absolutely, Darlene. We should never allow the spammers to win over the visitors to our blogs by not being able to engage on any of our blog posts. Spam must never win, and it should never defeat any blogger.

  12. I check my spam folder every day and use bulk delete to clear. Occasionally, I’ll find a real comment. I don’t want to lose those!

    1. I recommend checking your spam folder at least once a day, Betty. I’ve just found a genuine comment on this post in my spam folder, so I had to mark it as not spam. It’s strange why some real comments end up in spam by mistake.

  13. Thanks for the heads up, Hugh. I’ve just deleted 84 spam comments – all posted in the last two weeks (and all showing what appeared to be chinese characters in the name). I do forget to check for spam.

    1. I’m glad this post acted as a reminder, Eileen.

      Try and get into the habit of checking your WordPress spam folder at least once a day. Sometimes, genuine comments can end up there (as I’ve just discovered with this post).

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