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How to Handle Spam in WordPress without a Captcha

Spam is more than an irritation. It can reduce your productivity. Sometimes the spam prevention can be as bad as the spam itself, making your visitors spot similar images, do maths sums or answer questions to prove that they are human.

This can put people off interacting with your website. Fortunately, WordPress has plugins that can handle spam transparently, without creating irritation to either you or your visitors. In this blog post, you will take a look at two of them.

The anti-spam solutions that don't use a Captcha I will cover are CleanTalk and Anti-spam.


CleanTalk

CleanTalk handles the spam without a captcha or any obvious obstacle. Install it once and it works in the background to stop spam. 

01 find the plugin in the wp directory

  • While you are there, click on the installation tab to find the link needed to register for the Access Key.
  • The registration process will ask for your email and website address. Immediately you will receive an access key. Copy this for the installation process.
  • On your WordPress site, go to Add Plugins and either search for CleanTalk in the Plugin Directory or upload the file you downloaded earlier.

02 upload or install plugin

  • Activate the plugin and enter the Access Key.

03 click save changes

  • Click Save.

If you select the SpamFireWall option, then Spam bots are blocked before they can visit your site. CleanTalk maintains a cloud database of all Spambots.

If one visits your website it will get a blank page, while a legitimate visitor will proceed directly to the site. This process is completely transparent to the visitors and reduces the load on your server.

  • Click on the Advanced settings link.

You can decide where CleanTalk should be active on your site. Registration and comment forms are protected by default, but you can turn this on or off. Also, decide whether to apply CleanTalk to logged in users or not.

04 check out advanced options

  • Decide whether to see statistics on the number of submissions on your WordPress dashboard.

05 decide on statistics display 

  • The advanced setting page is a long one. Make sure you scroll all the one to the bottom and click save.

Once the plugin is active you will find a link to all your anti-spam statistics. A little round icon will appear on the top of your admin screen and this drops down to provide easy access to statistics.

06 check out plugin icon at the top

Here you can see how many spam messages have been stopped every week. Usually, you won’t need to check. Just enjoy a spam-free website.

CleanTalk offers a free trial and then costs $8 per year.


Anti-spam by webvitaly

A free alternative to CleanTalk is Anti-spam By webvitaly.

  • Go to Plugins > Add New on your WordPress site and search for click Install Now.

07 install webvitaly

  • This is an easy install-and-go plugin. Once installed, click activate and the plugin is working.

 08 activate plugin

There are no settings to manage, only a link to the paid-for version. 09 link to paid version

This plugin also avoids the use of a captcha and blocks spam in comments automatically, invisibly for both users and admins. The plugin’s philosophy is that spam is not the user’s problem so a website shouldn’t make the user do anything to prevent spam for the website owner.

There are no moderation queues either so the website administrator does not have to do any extra work to prevent spam.

A more powerful version of the Anti-spam plugin is available for $25 per year and offers a choice between manual and automatic spam protection.

This may be useful if you find your website targeted by spammers, or if you receive complaints from users that their messages are being seen as spam. This doesn’t happen often, but it can.

10 anti spam pro

The manual version uses a ‘spam-points algorithm’ to check if a comment is a spam. This works by assigning points to each element of a comment, and these settings can be changed under settings.

For example, if a comment contains too many links, HTML, or a spam word such as "viagra". By tweaking the manual settings you can control what is and isn’t seen as spam.


Conclusion

The CleanTalk is an easy solution to your spam problems, with a sophisticated online statistical interface. Anti-Spam Pro can also be used automatically, but can be manually tweaked to combat particular spam issues that may be affecting your site. For maximum protection, a subscription is required to ensure you are free from spam.

Additional Reading

Learn how to secure your WordPress site subscribing to our Video Club and watching "How to Keep Your WordPress Site Safe" comprehensive video course.


About the author

Born in Zambia but living now in Cape Town, South Africa, Libby Young started out as a journalist. She taught herself HTML when the company where she was an sub-editor made the transition from CD-Rom to the web 20 years ago. Since then she has developed content-rich websites using a variety of open source content management systems.