One of the biggest problems we all face on the web these days is spam. As soon as you post content to the internet, someone will start sending you unwanted advertising e-mails and junk mail. Here are some tips to help you keep the wolves at bay.
Multiple e-mail addresses
Since I first started accessing the web, I have had multiple e-mail addresses. In the beginning, this was probably because I was testing out different e-mail hosts, but now I do it for security and privacy.
To keep spam mail down, or at least manageable, and to maintain certain privacy, it may be wise to use two or three e-mail addresses. I use one e-mail address for my business, one for friends and family and one to post comments and to sign up to newsletters and marketing material. Not only does this help me ordering my e-mail inbox, it also helps I restrict the spam I receive to one e-mail address. Some people go even further and with your own domain you can set up unlimited email addresses. So if I signed up to this site’s newsletter I would create and email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. Then whenever I was sent an email to that address I would know where I submitted the email address and be able to tell if they sold the email on. I would never sell your email address on (I use AWeber to protect you), but some people do.
Everything in moderation
Comment Spam is another problem you’ll have if you have a blog. A good practice may be to moderate all your comments. This can be time consuming if your site attracts many visitors but it will pay-off in the end. Many blog hosts have a facility to allow ‘approved’ users or e-mail addresses and by using this, you will cut down on some of your work.
Also known as CAPTCHA, many sites use this form of anti-spam to protect themselves (see my Contact form for an example). Using a combination of distorted words and letters, users are required to copy a certain word into a field to prove that they are actually a human and not a spybot or crawler software program.
Unfortunately, there are many users who will not post comments when required to use word verification. One way to get around this is to ask new visitors to register first; another form of moderation. Again though, this can reduce the number of commentators.
If you use WordPress, you will have heard of Aksimet. Akismet is a plug-in that analyzes all posts and using certain parameters, decides whether the comment is spam or not. Of course, this is not a foolproof system so you will need to check your Spam Box every now and then to ensure that legitimate comments have not fallen through.
Closing comments that are no longer live is another good way to prevent spam. When you have a post that is hot, attracting lots of comments, the post may be pushed higher up in the search engine results. This is brilliant for advertising your site but not so brilliant for attracting spam. The problem is that once the comments and backlinks die down, the link stays at the top of the search engine, attracting automated and manual spammers. One way to stop unwanted spam comments is to close the ability to add new comments after a certain time. By doing this, you will still keep your high search ranking but prevent new spam. WordPress can now do this.
Spam is everywhere these days but as long as we follow a few simple guidelines like these, we will keep the wolves from the door. Maybe…