With all of the recent discussion about ending comments on your blog due to the spam problem, I thought it would make sense to do a very quick round up of the tools that are available to us as bloggers to keep our blogs relatively free of garbage.
There are four levels of defense you can use to protect your blog from garbage, assuming that you are using a self-hosted blog: DNS level, host level, reputation level, and content level. For the purposes of this post, I will refer to WordPress, but many of these tools are platform agnostic.
DNS-level filtering prohibits bot networks from attacking your blog en masse. Perhaps the best-known of these services is Cloudflare, though Google and Amazon also offer free services. All 3 are free at the basic level. You simply install the service, install the plug-in, and redirect your DNS to the new DNS provider. They intercept malware and other known traffic at the network level, preventing spam bots from even reaching your server.
Working with a reputable blog hosting company that offers robust security services provides an additional level of protection for your blog. These services typically are not free and not inexpensive; expect to pay about $100 a month for your hosting services on these platforms. In exchange, you get protection from known malware, 1-Click backups and restores, and trained system administrators who can repair damage quickly. I use WPEngine.com at work, and it’s my preferred provider (disclosure: I’m an affiliate, too). Other providers at this tier would include Synthesis Hosting and Page.ly.
Like e-mail servers, blogs can have reputation-based monitoring from plug-ins like Akismet. Akismet is probably one of the best-known reputation systems that can identify known sources of crap traffic and filter it out or flag submitted comments for review before posting them. Akismet is free for personal use.
Finally, there are services that provide both reputation and content-based filtering to identify crap comments and spammers. Two of the most well-known on this front are Disqus and Livefyre. I’ve used both of these services; I use Disqus on my personal blog and Livefyre on my work blog. Both are good, both are reliable, and both are worth trying to see which one you prefer more.
If your blog uses all four levels of tools to protect itself against malicious traffic, spammers, and bots, you should experience significantly less spam and free up your time to actually respond to the comments you want.
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