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How to Combat Comment Spam in WordPress Using the CAPTCHA Plugin

Are you sick of seeing your comments section or accounts creation being targeted by spammers? Unfortunately, every web developer will encounter this problem as spammers have gotten more advanced over the years. Spambots are one of the most common problems that websites face today so we must have new countermeasures to combat these bots. The most successful method that has been created is CAPTCHA.

CAPTCHA is an extremely popular way to keep your website safe and I’m sure you’ve seen it before on other websites. CAPTCHA will require you to answer a question in different ways. The most popular ways include selecting multiple pictures out of a group and answering a simple math question. These are things that can stop bots in their tracks, but they are also a hindrance to regular visitors. Today, I will demonstrate how combating comment spam in WordPress can be made easy with CAPTCHA.

Why CAPTCHA Can Help Your Website

A comment section should be used so that you can get feedback from your community and interact with them, but unfortunately, spammers and spambots want to turn this into an advertising area. Using CAPTCHA will only guard against spambots and any manual spammers will have no problem continuing what they are doing. However, there are many more spambots than actual spammers. This is why you must always pay attention to your comments section to get rid of the manual spammers’ accounts.

Spambots can also infiltrate account creation, which can be a very big problem. There are usually many rewards for creating an account like for example, if you were to give a discount code then someone could use a bot to get an infinite amount of them. This also gives you a false sense of how many accounts are actually being created that will use your website and the services and content you provide.

How to Add CAPTCHA to Your WordPress Website

Today, I will demonstrate how combating comment spam in WordPress can be made easy with CAPTCHA. There are many WordPress CAPTCHA plugins available, but we will focus on the Captcha plugin. This plugin will require visitors to solve very simple math problems like multiplication. It is very popular with over 300,000 active installs and is completely free to set up. Keep in mind that if you do not want math questions or number based character recognition there are many other CAPTCHA plugins to choose from.

Let’s begin by clicking on Plugins and selecting the Add New option on the left-hand admin panel.

Add New

 

Search for Captcha in the available search box. This will pull up additional plugins that you may find helpful.

Search for Captcha in the available search box.

Scroll down until you find the Captcha and click the “Install Now” button and activate the plugin for use.

click the "Install Now" button

On the left-hand admin panel click on the Captcha option. This will pull up the main settings page.

click on the Captcha option.

There are multiple settings on this page that will determine how the plugin works. The first option allows you to choose between Character recognition or Arithmetic actions. Character recognition will give visitors a set of symbols like dice or roman numerals. The visitor will simply enter the numbers they see. You will also need to select how many images visitors will see. Hover over the little question mark to see an example.

The Arithmetic actions will create simple math problems. By selecting this option you can choose what types of operations to include,  such as addition, subtraction, or multiplication. You will also need to choose the complexity level. If you are unsure of what any of them do, then hover over the question mark to see an example.

choose a Captcha type

A very good option to check off is the “Enlarge images on mouseover” option. This is great for visitors that may not have the best vision. Make sure to check the “Show CAPTCHA after the end of the page loading” box, which will enable it on your website. Click on the “Save Changes” button once you are done.

Click on the "Save Changes" button

By default, it will have CAPTCHA set up on all of your login forms, but of course spambots probably already have accounts created before you added this. This means they will go unchallenged when they leave comments. Click on the WordPress Comments form and uncheck the “Hide from registered users” option. Click on the “Save Changes” button to apply this change.

Click on the "Save Changes" button

You can now go on to your live website and make sure it is working by going on to a form or leave a comment.

Your CAPTCHA Should be working now.

Congratulations, you have successfully set up CAPTCHA using the Captcha plugin. You can change the settings of the plugin at any time. Make sure to listen to your visitors’ feedback because this is an extra step that everyone using your website will now have to go through.

Additional Plugins

CAPTCHA is a very popular tool to handle spambots and WordPress has many plugins available to help you set it up on your website. Here are some additional plugins I can recommend giving a try.

Better WordPress reCAPTCHA

Better WordPress reCAPTCHA

Better WordPress reCAPTCHA uses the Google reCAPTCHA system in WordPress. It does require getting the reCAPTCHA keys from google, but the process is very easy and free. Definitely, give this plugin a try if you want to add CAPTCHA to your website.

Really Simple CAPTCHA

Really Simple CAPTCHA

Really Simple CAPTCHA is another popular plugin to try. It has over 1 million active installs and makes the process very simple, as the name implies. Please note that this plugin does not work on its own. It was made to work in conjunction with other plugins like Contact Form 7, but other form plugins will also work.

Get Rid of Spambots on Your Website

Many visitors do not like seeing the CAPTCHA requirements on the websites they visit, but unfortunately, spambots want your comments section to look like an advertisement war just happened. Most visitors that see comments sections like this will not want to participate in any discussion or leave any feedback on your content and if they do, then it becomes quite a challenge to find the real comments hidden beneath the spam.

You should also try to make the CAPTCHA as easy and short as possible for your real visitors and remember that the point is to keep spambots out, not visitors. Keep in mind if you do not like numbers there are plenty of other CAPTCHA plugins that deal with letters and images.

Has adding CAPTCHA to your website helped fix the issue of spambots posting on your website?  Do you like using numeric characters over using alphabetical characters?

Author: Ron Helms

I currently work for GreenGeeks as a Support Technician. My primary roles are supporting our VPS and Dedicated server clients, as well as performing site migrations. With experience in the web hosting industry since 2009, there is rarely a question I can’t help answer. In my spare time, I enjoy gaming and working on cars as an automotive enthusiast.

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