How to keep blog safe from comment spam

Spam is so much prevalent on social media and apps that the comment boxes of our blogs and websites, social accounts and even SMS inbox often receive more of it than genuine messages.

What really is spam ?

Spam is an irrelevant and uninvited message. Spam is usually sent to many users with the help of an automated tool. Spam can contain malicious content too.

I give below the snap of spammy comments that I have received recently on this very blog. I have not included many that were exact repeats. So, it clearly is a case where someone might have found some merit in commenting on my blog (e.g. a backlink from a genuine website) and he/ she has automated the commenting process so that my blog gets repeated comments. None of the links look genuine as none is related to the topics covered in the blog, and none has the URL of the sender or a URL embedded in the comment. That shows, the commenter is either testing the ground or is not a professional spammer yet.
What would happen if I allowed all these comments on my blog is that search engines as well as visitors would consider my blog of low value, and the spammer would later start putting URLs of spurious websites in the comments. 
None of these comments has appeared on the blog is because  I have stopped them before they could harm the blog. How?

How to avoid comment spam?

Experts suggest many ways to avoid spam in comments. The main ones include:

1. Putting a captcha.
A captcha is the mechanism through which commenters are asked to prove that they are human beings and not a machine. There are different types of capthas: asking you to write numbers and digits shown against a meshy background, asking you to do a mathematical calculation, asking you to identify a particular type of pictures (e.g. a road sign or a flower) out of many given, and so on.
Captchas definitely make automatic spamming difficult but they are defenseless against spammers posting comments manually - but such spammers are also much less in number and they have physical limitations.
However, difficult or confusing captchas end up annoying genuine commenters.

2. Deleting spammy comments manually.
Since getting comments on blogs is difficult these days, some bloggers do not want genuine commenters to be put off by a captcha. They would rather allow everybody to comment and then manually remove the unwanted comments at the end of the day.
This is a less efficient way of dealing with comment spam, but is OK with blogs that receive a mix of comments and not too much spam.

3. Comment moderation.
The most effective way to stop spam from appearing on your blog is to not allow its entry into the blog. For this, you have to check each comment and then allow whichever you want to appear on the blog. Blogger and Wordpress have inbuilt options for such comment moderation. Most website builders and content management systems (CMSs) have this provision.

4. Accepting comments only from an approved ID.
Some bloggers allow comments only from those with approved IDs. For example,
  • Some blogs do not allow anonymous blogging at all.
  • Wordpress can have a provision to allow comments only from Wordpress account holders. Blogs on the Blogger platform can limit commenting to those with Google Plus account.
  • One can install third-party commenting apps such as Disqus.
  • Many websites (e.g. news portals) allow commenting only from registered users.
This method is automated and so the blogger or website owner need not bother about the genuineness of commenters. However, it restricts comments from those not registered in a particular way. It also does not stop manual spamming by registered/ identified people.
5. Not accepting comments.
Ah! This is like keeping your house's door shut even for your friends.  Many news websites, government websites and big blogs allow you to share their comment on social media but would not allow you to react to them. I do not advocate this approach as it goes against the spirit of interaction on the web.

Comment spam on a recent post

What type of comment check you'd apply on your blog?

I prefer comment moderation. I have no worry about an unwanted comment appearing on my blog even if I do not get time to look at the comments for many days.
When I discussed the matter recently with some social media friends, I found mixed responses. Many agreed with me an da few disagreed too. Patrick (@patricksplace) argued strongly that he would not go for comment moderation because his commenters are likely to be put off when the comment does not appear on the blog right then and there. He would rather delete spammy comments after they have appeared on the blog.
What is your take?

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