Reduce WordPress Comment Spam Without Plugins

Comment spam remains a problem for all WordPress users. It also affects other blogging software and platforms such as discussion forums, guestbooks and wikis.

Unfortunately, it is near impossible to completely stop spam software from attacking your website. Even if you completely disable comments, spammers can still submit spam to your website. Whilst these comments will not be displayed on your live website, they will take up space in your database, which will increase the overall size of your database and, in turn, slow your website down.

In this article, I would like to give you some tips on how you can reduce comment spam on a WordPress website. If you follow these steps, you should greatly reduce the volume of comment spam you receive.

I have no intentions of disrespecting the hard work done by programmers in order to launch the plethora of Anti-Spam WordPress Plugins. Really. But, I am a WordPress user and my life revolves around WordPress. I won’t be doing justice to the best Content Management System if I do not introduce my readers to some of its amazing features.

Ignorance will stall your own blog. How? Well, when you ignore the basic WordPress features and use plugins instead then you give away memory for those plugins to run smoothly. That is when your blog starts to lag. Let us quickly look into different WordPress features that can fight spam without using plugins. The Settings > Discussion section from your WordPress Dashboard will now be our point of discussion.

1. Default Article Settings

I am assuming that you dream about people leaving gazillions of comments on your posts so the comments cannot be blocked. From this section we can cut down pingback and trackback notifications. These are the silly heads up that keep popping up when some article from your blog is linked by some other article. This step eliminates the requirement of those plugins that fight pingback and trackback notifications. Trust me, you don’t need them.

no pingback and trackback notifications

No pingback and trackback notifications

2. Other Comment Settings

Fields like Name and E-Mail in the comments form must be marked as mandatory fields. As this is turned on by default in WordPress installations most WordPress blogs have this setting enabled already.

 Comment author must fill out name and e-mail

Comment author must fill out name and e-mail

If you require users to log in before leaving comments then this will cut down on a significant amount of spam comments. This step might be a turn off for few legit readers who want to leave a comment but don’t want to sign in. So, analyze before you enable this feature.

Usually old posts are the target of spammers instead of legit readers. So, it is suggested that you close comments on post that are pretty old. Say 3 months? If you are writing articles that are evergreen for discussion then you might want to skip this suggestion.

close comments on old posts

Close comments on old posts

3. E-mail Me Whenever

You can use this feature if you don’t get thousands of comments on your posts. You will get email notifications for every comment that pops up and you can mark it spam right away cutting down on a section of spam comments.

email notifications for every comment

Email notifications for every comment

4. Before a Comment Appears

There is a section in the WordPress discussion settings page entitled “Before a comment appears”. This section allows you to control which comments are sent to the moderation queue and which articles are automatically published on your website.

Enabling “Comment must be manually approved” means that every single comment must be manually approved. A lot of blogs use this setting as it gives full control over what comments are published. This essentially means that no spam comments will ever be published on your website.

Moderate comments

Moderate comments

As someone who comments on blogs semi-regularly, I find this option frustrating. Depending on how often the blog owner checks the comment moderation queue, it could be a few hours or even a few days before a comment is approved and published. This can slow down any discussions that are taking place.

The other option is “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”. I personally feel that this is a more practical option as it only sends a commenter’s first comment to the moderation queue. Once they have had a comment approved, all of their subsequent comments will be approved automatically.

This setup is not perfect as someone could technically submit a good comment and then submit spam later. However, in practice, the majority of people who leave a good comment initially will submit good comments in the future.

5. Hold Comments That Have Links

A high percentage of spam comments contain links. One way to take advantage of this is to send any comments with links to the moderation queue.

You can do this in the “Comment Moderation” section. A fresh WordPress installation will send comments to the moderation queue if they contain two links or more. I recommend reducing this to one as many spam comments only contain one link.

Spammers usually include links in their comments.

Spammers usually include links in their comments.

6. Comment Moderation Blacklist

If you smartly tune your Comment Moderation Blacklist and regularly update it with words that you think are often part of spam comments then you will eradicate the need for plugins that do the same task. It might take some patience to build such a list but the hard work will surely pay off. This will remove the need for any third party blacklists and plugins that use such lists to fight spam.

Comment Moderation Blacklist

Comment Moderation Blacklist

7. Use the Comment Blacklist

Comment Blacklist is more or less similar to above list. The only difference is that comments blacklisted through this list will be directly marked as spam and they won’t be pushed into the moderation queue for re-consideration. Use this list very carefully otherwise some legit comments will be marked as spam.

The comment blacklist is one of the most underused features of WordPress; despite it being available in every WordPress website. It allows you to blacklist the IP addresses of spammers who are persistently attacking you. You can also blacklist commenters by URL, email address, name and/or content.

Comment Blacklist

Comment Blacklist

Blacklisting someone is a good way of discouraging people who are submitting spam manually. I encourage you to use it when you can.


Comment spam is an ongoing battle that most website owners have to face on a daily basis. Thankfully, if you configure your discussion settings correctly, few spam comments will actually be published on your live website.

Whichever moderation option you choose, be sure to check your moderation queue and spam folder on a regular basis as there is nothing more discouraging to readers than having a long detailed comment deleted :)

If you want to use the wordpress plugin, we recommend you to read: 5 Best Anti Spam WordPress Plugins For 2014

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Depending upon the amount of comments and control you want over comments on your WordPress site, you may want to moderate all comments on your site.

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