Stop blog and website comment spam with CleanTalk for WordPress

Block WordPress comment spam

Spam sign - stop spam comments in WordPress

As soon as a website or blog becomes popular, it begins to attract spam comments and it grows into an irritating problem. CleanTalk is one of many anti-spam solutions and it works well.

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If you don’t already get spam comments on blog posts, you soon will. It starts off as just the occasional junk comment, often containing links to unwanted products, services or web sites, but it gradually grows as your site’s visitors grows and catches the attention of spammers.

Spam comments are occasionally created by people, but mostly it is automated programs that scour the web looking for websites to post their junk. They are spam bots and they can add multiple comments to WordPress posts using the comment form at the bottom of posts, provided you have comments enabled in WordPress settings.

WordPress contains very limited features for dealing with spam and I looked at them in How to stop spam comments on your blog or website without plugins.

This works for small numbers of spam comments by withholding any comment containing a web link for moderation (nearly all spam contains links). Comments are not published until you have checked and approved them. If you are getting dozens of spam comments every day, it is just too much work reading the withheld comments and trashing or approving them.

Automated anti-spam tools for websites.

There are some free WordPress anti-spam plugins and some of them are quite good. I have used one simply called Anti-Spam on some sites and it has blocked thousands of spam comments on posts.

The most popular antispam plugin by user numbers is Akismet and there are several reasons for this. One is that it is used on the WordPress.com website, another is that it is often bundled with WordPress installations. It also works very well and is a great plugin for catching spam.

The one thing that puts off solo bloggers and small websites is the cost. It is free for personal sites, but not for commercial ones or businesses and it costs $5 a month for each site you have. When you have made it and are earning thousands from your website, it is a trivial amount, but some bloggers struggle and only make a small income. The $5 a month subscription adds to all the other costs incurred with running a website.

Automattic, Akismet’s developer, doesn’t elaborate on what is classed as a commercial site or a business. If you have affiliate links, sponsored posts or adverts, then presumably your site is classed as commercial because they are all sources of income.

It would not be surprising if some people use Akismet for free when they should really be paying for it. Maybe the developer turns a blind eye if you are a solo blogger or website and aren’t making much money. Who knows? If this is a worry, then there are alternatives.

CleanTalk is an alternative to Akismet

CleanTalk is a great alternative antispam plugin for WordPress websites and it has a number of advantages over free plugins and Akismet. You will pay $8 for a year for CleanTalk compared to Akismet’s $5 a month. It costs just $15 a month for unlimited websites whereas Akismet charges $15 for three sites and $50 for unlimited.

It is cheap, but that doesn’t mean anything unless the antispam service is good. It does in fact, work well and it has a score of nearly 5 stars at the WordPress plugins site. The small number of of 1-star reviews are mostly from people complaining that it isn’t free.

Some free anti-spam plugins for WordPress only protect post comments. They do not always protect other things, like contact forms, forums, email list and other signup forms. You might block comment spam with a free plugin, but you may still get contact form spam, spam registrations and so on. CleanTalk supports a wide range of third party plugins for forms and signups. It also includes a spambot firewall that locks out spam bots from your site.

CleanTalk can be installed free and it will protect your site for a week for free. After that, a subscription is required.

Go to Plugins in WordPress and click Add New. Search for CleanTalk and install Spam Protection, AntiSpam, Firewall by Cleantalk.

CleanTalk antispam plugin for WordPress

Activate the plugin and then go to Settings > Anti-spam by CleanTalk. To use CleanTalk free for a week, click the button Get Access Key Automatically. It is then activated. If you decide to keep it, sign up for a year by clicking the link in the plugin’s settings or at the CleanTalk website.

CleanTalk WordPress antispam plugin

The settings are hidden and it just works, however, clicking the Advanced settings link reveals a long list of options for those that want to customize the way it works. Here are just a few.

CleanTalk WordPress antispam plugin settings

The options include: Choose whether to protect registration forms, comment forms, contact forms, custom forms, WooCommerce checkout form, and more forms. It can be turned off for logged in users and truster users.

CleanTalk shows the number of spam attacks it has blocked in the WordPress menu bar at the top and also on the admin dashboard.

Log in to the CleanTalk website with your account and there is an online dashboard that shows your account status, today, yesterday and weekly spam blocking statistics. This is most useful if you have CleanTalk on multiple websites and all are listed in the dashboard and you can see spam statistics for each one.

Summing up

CleanTalk is a cheap alternative to Akismet and it protects almost everything – forms and forums included, not just post comments. It works well and keeps spam out of your site without you having to do anything. Just install it, sign up and it does the job. It is recommended.

In case you are wondering, nothing was received for this review. I’m just a customer and signed up for a year’s antispam service.

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