Posts Tagged ‘spam’

Dealing with Spam on WordPress

For a while now, I’ve been using the WordPress desktop app instead of the web interface. Mostly that’s gone well, but one serious flaw is in handling spam comments. I still get many spam comments filtered out (thank you Akismet), but it’s easy to forget about them. This morning, I happened to check, and found there were over 1,600 spam comments.

Using the app’s interface to deal with this many comments was simply impossible. You can only review 20 comments at a time using the “Bulk Edit” feature. I’m sorry, 20 isn’t bulk when facing 1,600! I could select 20 at a time, review, and then delete. But then I had to go to a new page, click on Bulk Edit again, review, delete, repeat. I tried changing my settings for how many comments to view (as suggested in Help), but that didn’t change the number displayed in “Bulk Edit.” I also tried selecting multiple pages of comments, but only the last page was deleted.

So finally, I went to WP Admin on the left-hand menu. This took me to the old web interface (which fortunately is working again in Safari, so maybe I can just return to it), where I was able to view Spam comments the old fashioned way. I could have reviewed every one and at least not had to choose “Bulk Edit” so many times to do it (since that’s the default view). But facing about 1500 messages to scroll through, most of which would be long and full of gibberish and links, I opted for the “Empty Spam” command at the bottom of the screen. Poof, they all disappeared.

My apologies to anyone whose actual comment might have been caught in this spam purge. In my experience, that’s very, very rare, so I doubt it happened. WordPress is usually very good about alerting me when there’s a real comment (or one that’s potentially real) and allowing me to decide wither to accept, reject, or mark as spam. And it’s very good at filtering out spam and leaving the real messages for me to approve. As long as I remember to go to WP Admin, spam will be much easier to deal with in the future, and I hope I don’t let it build up quite that much!

Can Spam Comments Help Me Teach Creative Writing?

Note to self:

Next time I’m confronted with students who want to “keep things general so everyone can identify with them,” I should trot out my blog’s latest spam comments. It will have to be the latest ones, unless I remember to keep copies of some on file. I just threw out a few, then realized what great examples they would make. Invariably they “Really love your site,” because it is “one of the best we’ve ever seen on this topic.” But they don’t mention the topic, or if they do, it comes straight out of the post’s title and doesn’t fit the rest of the comment. I could just hand them out as little rewards, or tape them to the drafts that students turn in and then ask them how they like being told that:

They are “the greatest at creative writing because this piece handles its subject impressively well,” and I have “never seen such emotional writing on a topic like this,” so I will “definitely come back when I need more information on this topic.”

What impresses me most about the “best” spam comments are the lengths to which they go to be so general they could apply to virtually any context. Why anyone would believe that the comment was actually written in response to something they wrote, is beyond me. If someone wants to praise me, they ought to be able to be a little specific about what I’m being praised for. And if that someone wants me to click on a link in their comment or check out their blog, then they’d really better let me know that they actually read mine! I value those real comments, but the spam has always seemed worthless and futile, at least until now. Maybe I can recycle it into an object lesson in specificity.