Spam used to be a real problem here on WPLift, Akismet is a good service but I found that it just wasn't doing it's job 100% so I went looking for a better solution which lead me to use CleanTalk which I have been using now since last year.
CleanTalk is a cloud-based anti-spam solution for WordPress websites which helps combat spam in a number of ways :
- Stops spam comments.
- Stops spam registrations.
- Stops spam contact emails.
- Stops spam orders.
- Stops spam bookings.
- Stops spam subscriptions.
- Stops spam in widgets.
- Check existing comments for spam.
The service works by installing a plugin on your site, then whenever a comment is submitted the plugin connects to the CleanTalk servers where it is analysed and then the comment is either approved or declined. The good thing about CleanTalk is that it will also protect other parts of your site, it will protect against spam registrations on your site so you can leave registrations open, it will protect your contact forms, prevent trackback spam and it does this without you having to install a Captcha solution, which is good for the end-users - we know how annoying Captcha forms can be!
CleanTalk is free to try for 14 days on your site, then if you want to keep using it you will have to pay $8 per year for usage on one site. WPLift readers can get a 30% discount on this price to make it even cheaper, use this link to upgrade your account once you are signed up and enter code "WPLIFT" to get this discount. This code is good to use until Nov 30 2015.
This is a very comprehensive plugin / service so lets take a look at the full run-down of what is included.
- Comments spam protection - Supports native WordPress, JetPack comments and any other comments plugins. Plugin moves spam comments to SPAM folder or set option to silent ban spam comments.
- Spam bots registrations filter - Filers spam bots on registrations forms WordPress, BuddyPress, bbPress, S2Member, WooCommerce and any other registrations plugins.
- Protection against contact forms spam - Plugin is tested and ready to protect against spam emails via Formidable forms, Contact form 7, JetPack Contact form, Fast Secure Contact form, Ninja forms, Landing pages, Gravity forms and any themes/custom contact forms.
- WooCommerce spam filter - Anti-spam by CleanTalk filters spam bots registrations and spam reviews for WooCommerce. Plugin is fully compatible with WooCommerce 2.1 and upper.
- Spam filter for themes contact forms -Plugin blocks spam emails via any themes (built-in) contact forms. With AJAX forms plugin silent (without any error notices on WordPress frontend) filters spam emails.
- Other spam filters - WordPress Landing Pages. WP User Frontend. Any WordPress form (option 'Custom contact forms').
- Compatible with WordPress cache plugins - W3 Total Cache, Quick Cache, WP Fastest Cache, Hyper Cache, WP Super cache and any other cache plugins.
- Check existing comments for spam. Bulk comments removal - With the help of anti-spam by CleanTalk you can check existing comments, to find and quickly delete spam comments at once. To use this function, go to WP Console > Comments >Find spam comments.
- Check existing users for spam. Bulk accounts removal - With the help of anti-spam by CleanTalk you can check existing comments, to find and quickly delete spam users at once. For use this function, go to WP Console >Users >Check for spam.
How to use the Plugin
First off, you should grab the free plugin from the WordPress directory and activate it on your site. Once activated you will be taken to a settings page where you can enter your API key.
To get your API key, you should register on the CleanTalk website for a free 14 day trial. Immediately after signing up you are give your API key so copy that into the settings on your plugin page in your WordPress site.
A nice new feature of this plugin is you can now check all existing comments and users for existing spam, on the plugin settings page simply click the "Check Comments" or "Check Users" buttons and it will scan your site.
Any spam comments will be listed and then deleted for you, I cant explain how handy this feature is for a large website. I had to manually go through and check 8000 comments by hand once here on WPLift, this plugin does the same in a few seconds!
The final thing to do on your site, is check the "Advanced Settings" section of the plugin, here you can set options such as automatically delete spam comments, and enable the plugin to work with :
- Registration Forms
- Comment Forms
- Contact Forms
- External Forms
Now that the plugin is up and running, you can login to the CleanTalk website and view some info about your site and see what the plugin is doing. If you check out the "Analytics" section, you will see a graph that shows how many spam comments have been blocked and how many legitimate ones were let through. You can see from my graph, that the plugin has blocked 33k spam comments and let through 500 real ones. Check out the huge spike in January, where 16k spam comments were blocked!
The "Logs" page in your dashboard contains information on every action that was taken on your site, here you can see what was blocked and what was let through and the reasons for it. If you spot any spam comments that got through, you can mark them as spam. The same, if you see anything that was blocked but shouldn't have been, you can mark it as "Not Spam".
This really is the best anti-spam solution I think that is available for WordPress at the moment, it does a better job than Akismet in my tests. When I was using Akismet alone on WPLift, it let through thousands of spam comments which I had to clean manually. Since I have been using CleanTalk I have had hardly any at all - and if one has slipped though, it's usually quite a clever hand-submitted comment.
The new features in this version have made it even better - being able to automatically check all old comments and users in a few seconds is great, especially with larger sites where this could take a long time previously.
Add in the fact that it now can check contact forms, WooCommerce sites and external forms make this the best solution for spam prevention currently available for WordPress.
For $8 per year it presents amazing value for money - I would be happy paying that per month honestly. If you are thinking of signing up for CleanTalk, try it out for free for 14 days and if you want to upgrade use this link and once you are signed up and enter code "WPLIFT" to get this discount. This code is good to use until Nov 30 2015.