Hello everybody! It is Morgan Collins from the TMDHosting Technical Support Team here :) Today is a day to remember, as we are starting our Tech Wednesday series, which will include two great technical articles every week on Wednesday, as the name suggests. We will try to cover as much topics in the hosting industry as possible, still if you want to read something in particular, let us know in the comments.

There is no doubt that lately websites are flooded with spam comments by either spam bots or internet trolls. If you have not heard these terms, we will try to explain them for you:

– Spam bot – it’s an automated software designed to send spam. Spambots usually create fake accounts and send spam messages through it.
– Internet troll – a person whose sole purpose in life is to argue with other people on the internet over trivial issues and topics.

Unfortunately no one is 100% protected from spambots and internet trolls. Even large websites like YouTube. Many websites have even disabled their comment sections due to the huge amount of spam they have received. A simple example of that is the “Popular Science” Magazine – a magazine with 141 year old history. Back in September 2013 they posted in one of their articles, that they disable their comment sections:

“It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.” You can read the full article here.

Luckily there are many tools that have been developed that will help you prevent spam registrations and comments on your website. Here are a few tips:

Install reCAPTCHA.

reCAPTCHA is a free CAPTCHA service that can help you determine if the user is a human or computer. It is a tool that requires a user to fill the text shown on an image randomly generated each time. You have probably already seen reCAPTCHA on many websites.

You should check the documentation for your site platform more information how to enable reCAPTCHA on your site. Many of the open source script come with predefined tools which will help you easily help you setup reCAPTCHA. Other platforms may require additional modules or plugins to enable reCAPTCHA.  You can register your website for reCAPTCHA key here.

Enable Mail Verification

Mail verification helps you filter spambots by requiring a click on a link sent to the provided email address upon registration. This is a great way to filter new fake profiles.

Many of the open source scripts already come with this feature available. If you are using such script you will only need to enable it.

Create blackslists

Create list of words that will be censored or not allowed at all on your website pages. Make sure not to over protect your website. Sometimes filtering too many words can have a negative effect on your website and can irritate some of the users. Choose your words wisely.

Ban users

If you already see a spambot or an internet troll posting on your site do not delete it! Deleting the user will allow him/her to register on the website again and post the same content over and over again. Instead ban the user. That way they will not be able to use the same email address to register on the website. Banned users can’t harm your website.

Block IP Addresses

Many websites provide additional tools to determine the IP address of a website visitor or user. If you notice that spam content has been posted on your site multiple times from the same IP address, you may consider blocking that IP. If you are a cPanel user you can block different IP address on your site using the cPanel -> IP Deny Manager. In case you are not using cPanel you can still block IP addresses on your site. For that purpose open the .htccess file of your site using a text editor like notepad. Enter the following line:

deny from XX.XX.XX.XX

Where you should change the XX.XX.XX.XX with the actual IP address which you would like to block.

Of course there are many other techniques that you can use on your website to protect it from spam. Always take the time to customize your website settings, security and registration pages to keep your site protected!

Hopefully you have enjoyed this article – one more to come later today, so stay tuned and don’t forget – every Wednesday it is a Tech Wednesday from now on!