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Ways to Fight Spam

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Some blogs get spam comments, and others get 30,000 spam comments in a weekend. It can be quite frustrating. Before you even make any changes to your UThink blog, you already have two plugins working hard to filter spam before it comes to you: TypePad AntiSpam 1.0 and SpamLookup. But these well-intentioned tools are not perfect, and when they fail, one of two things can happen:

(1) Spam is allowed through the filter
(2) Legitimate comments are filtered and never seen

Recovering Legitimate Comments

The default spam setting is to delete spam comments after 14 days. To recover legitimate comments marked as spam, go to Manage > Comments. On the left side, you will see Quickfilters. Click on "Spam Comments". Find any comments that are legitimate and check the box next to them. Then take two steps:
(a) Under the More Actions... menu, choose "Trust Commenter(s)".
(b) Click "Not Spam". That will publish the comments that you checked.

Fighting Spam, Strategy 1:

Switch your comment authentication method to require a University of Minnesota x500 and password to comment. This is the best way to prevent spam comments for those who have blogs that are only intended for the University of Minnesota community. Even if you have one or two regular commenters, you could have them set up a guest x500 to use: https://www.umn.edu/dirtools/guestportal?

An additional step that I would recommend with this strategy is to adjust the spam threshold. Go to Preferences > Spam and change the score to -10.

But for many blogs, this just isn't practical.

Fighting Spam, Strategy 2:

Add a "captcha" box to the bottom of your comment forms. You've probably seen one of these before on other sites. It's when you are required to look at an image and type the letters and numbers that you see. With UThink, this is really easy to do:

(1) Go to Preferences > Comment
(2) Under Comment Display Options, there's a Captcha Provider box that's set to "None". Change that to "reCaptcha" and save changes. No need to re-publish your site yet.
(3) Go to Design > Templates. In most blog configurations, you are looking for the Comments template module.
(4) In the Comments module, somewhere around line 94, you will see "<div id="comments-open-captcha"></div>
". Change this to "<div id="comments-open-captcha"><$MTCaptchaFields$></div>
"
(5) Save the module, then re-publish your entire site.

Fighting Spam, Strategy 3:

Between strategies 1 and 2, you probably won't need a third strategy. But it's worth mentioning that you have the option to ban IP addresses and ranges. Go to Preferences > IP Banning. Here, you can type the precise address that spam is coming from (e.g. 124.90.251.222), or type a portion of the IP address (124.90.251) to ban any IP address that has those numbers in it. This requires a lot more maintenance than the other strategies, there's more room for blocking something unintentionally, and it is hard to predict where spam will come from next week. But it's a tool you can use.

Fighting Spam, Strategy 4:

Like Strategy 3, Strategy 4 is not nearly as effective as 1 and 2. This strategy simply involves adjusting the spam score threshold. The spam score threshold is a sliding scale that our spam plugins (TypePad AntiSpam and SpamLookup) uses to decide how aggressive it should be against incoming comments. Go to Preferences > Spam to adjust the score up and down.

Fighting Spam, Strategy 5:

Another partial strategy is to add keywords to the spam filter that identify a comment as spam. Go to Tools > Plugins, then click on "SpamLookup - Keyword Filter 2.1". Click on Settings. You'll have two boxes: Keywords to Moderate and Keywords to Junk. If you put the word "buy" in "Keywords to Moderate", any comment with that word will be sent to you for approval rather than being immediately approved. "Keywords to Junk" is a box for words that should never be in a legitimate comment. Anything filtered as "junk" will never go to you for approval.

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  • If you install reCaptcha (strategy 2), you should also turn off your spam filter. It can only do more harm than good at this point.

    (1) Go to Preferences > Spam
    (2) Turn the spam threshold down to -10
    (3) Save changes

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