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WP-SpamFree Anti-Spam

Description

An extremely powerful WordPress anti-spam plugin that eliminates blog comment spam, including trackback and pingback spam. Finally, you can enjoy a spam-free WordPress blog! Includes spam-free contact form feature as well.

A Powerful Weapon Against Comment Spam

Comment spam has been a huge problem for bloggers since the inception of blogs, and it just doesn’t seem to go away. The worst kind, and most prolific, is automated spam that comes from bots. Well, finally there is an anti-spam plugin for WordPress that provides an effective solution, without CAPTCHA’s, challenge questions, or other inconvenience to site visitors. WP-SpamFree eliminates automated blog comment spam from bots, including trackback and pingback spam.

New Features

  • Now with Enhanced Comment Blacklist option! Instead of just sending comments to moderation as with WordPress’s default Comment Blacklist functionality, with this turned on, anything that matchs a string in the blacklist will be completely blocked. Also adds a link in the comment notification emails that will let you blacklist a commenter’s IP with one click.
  • See what’s been blocked! Version 2.0 adds “Blocked Comment Logging Mode”, a temporary diagnostic mode that logs blocked comments and contact form submissions for 7 days, then turns off automatically. If you want to see what’s been blocked, or verify that everything is working, turn this on and see what WP-SpamFree is protecting your blog from.

Key Features

  1. Virtually eliminates automated comment spam from bots. It works like a firewall to ensure that your commenters are in fact, human.
  2. A counter on your dashboard to keep track of all the spam it’s blocking. The numbers will show how effective this plugin is.
  3. No CAPTCHA’s, challenge questions or other inconvenience to site visitors – it works silently in the background.
  4. Includes drop-in spam-free contact form. Easy to use – no configuration necessary.
  5. No false positives, which leads to fewer frustrated readers, and less work for you.
  6. You won’t have to waste valuable time sifting through a spam queue anymore, because there won’t be much there, if anything.
  7. Powerful trackback and pingback spam protection.
  8. Easy to install – truly plug and play. Just upload and activate. (Installation Status on the plugin admin page to let you know if plugin is installed correctly.)
  9. The beauty of this plugin is the methods of blocking spam. It takes a different approach than most and stops spam at the door.
  10. The code has an extremely low bandwidth overhead and won’t slow down your blog (very light database access), unlike some other anti-spam plugins.
  11. Completely compatible with all cache plugins, including WP Cache and WP Super Cache. Not all anti-spam plugins can say that.
  12. Display your blocked spam stats on your blog.
  13. Helps keep your database slimmer and more efficient.
  14. Works in WordPress MU as well.
  15. No cost, no hidden fees. Free for both Commercial and Personal use.

Background

Before I developed this plugin, our team and clients experienced the same frustration you do with comment spam on your WordPress blog. Every blog we manage had comment moderation enabled and various other anti-spam plugins installed, but we still had a ton of comments tagged as spam in the spam queue that we had to sort through. This wasted a lot of valuable time, and we all know, time is money. We needed a solution.

Comment spam stems from an older problem – automated spamming of email contact forms on web sites. I developed a successful fix for this a while ago, and later applied it to our WordPress blogs. It was so effective, that I decided to add a few modifications and turn it into a WordPress plugin to be freely distributed. Blogs we manage used to get an excessive number of spam comments show up on the spam queue each day – now the daily average is zero spam comments.

To further the development of this anti-spam plugin, I now study thousands and thousands of potential spam comments from many test blogs and contributors. I use a special diagnostic version of the plugin, which provides much more information on each of these spam comments than what is shown in WordPress. By analyzing patterns and behaviors consistent with spam, I can continually improve the plugin and ensure future accuracy.

How It Works

Most of the spam hitting your blog originates from bots. Few bots can process JavaScript (JS). Few bots can process cookies. Fewer still, can handle both. In a nutshell, this plugin uses a dynamic combo of JavaScript and cookies to weed out the humans from spambots, preventing 99%+ of automated spam from ever getting to your site. Almost 100% of web site visitors will have these turned on by default, so this type of solution works silently in the background, with no inconveniences. There may be a few users (less than 2%) that have JavaScript and/or cookies turned off by default, but they will be prompted to simply turn those back on to post their comment. Overall, the few might be inconvenienced because they have JS and cookies turned off will be far fewer than the 100% who would be annoyed by CAPTCHA’s, challenge questions, and other validation methods.

Some would argue that using JS and cookies is too simplistic an approach. Traditionally, programmers prefer using some type of basic AI to fight bots by trying to figure out if a comment is spam. While that isn’t a bad idea, when used alone this method falls short because no machine AI can ever accurately judge whether a comment is spam – many spam comments get through that could easily have been stopped, and there are many false positives where non-spam comments get flagged as spam. Others may argue that some spammers have programmed their bots to read JavaScript, etc. In reality, the percentage of bots with these capabilities is still extremely low – less than 1%. It’s simply a numbers game. Statistics tell us that an effective solution would involve using a technology that few bots can handle, therefore eliminating their ability to spam your site. The important thing in fighting spam is that we create a solution that can reduce spam noticeably and improve the user experience, and a 99%+ reduction in spam would definitely make a difference for most bloggers and site visitors.

Even so, it’s important to know that the particular JS and cookies solution used in the WP-SpamFree anti-spam plugin has evolved quite a bit, and is no longer simple at all. There are now two layers of protection, a JavaScript/Cookies Layer, and an Algorithmic Layer. Even if bot authors could engineer a way to break through the JavaScript/Cookies Layer, the Algorithmic Layer would still stop 95% of the spam that the JavaScript Layer blocks. (I’m working to make this 100% for fully redundant protection.) This JavaScript Layer utilizes randomly generated keys, and is algorithmically enhanced to ensure that spambots won’t beat it. The powerful Algorithmic Layer is what eliminates trackback/pingback spam, and much human spam as well. And, it does all that without hindering legitimate comments and trackbacks. The bottom line, is that this plugin just plain works, and is a powerful weapon against spam.

WordPress Blogging Without Spam

How does it feel to blog without being bombarded by comment spam? If you’re happy with the WP-SpamFree WordPress anti-spam plugin, please let others know by giving it a good rating!
Troubleshooting Guide | WP-SpamFree Support Page

Troubleshooting Guide / Support

If you’re having trouble getting things to work after installing the plugin, here are a few things to check:

  1. Check the FAQ’s.

  2. If you haven’t yet, please upgrade to the latest version.

  3. Check to make sure the plugin is installed properly. Many support requests for this plugin originate from improper installation and can be easily prevented. To check proper installation status, go to the WP-SpamFree page in your Admin. It’s a submenu link on the Plugins page. Go the the ‘Installation Status’ area near the top and it will tell you if the plugin is installed correctly. If it tells you that the plugin is not installed correctly, please double-check what directory you have installed WP-SpamFree in, delete any WP-SpamFree files you have uploaded to your server, re-read the Installation Instructions, and start the Installation process over from step 1.

  4. Clear your browser’s cache, clear your cookies, and restart your browser. Then reload the page.

  5. If you are receiving the error message: “Sorry, there was an error. Please enable JavaScript and Cookies in your browser and try again.” then you need to make sure JavaScript and cookies are enabled in your browser. (JavaScript is different from Java. Java is not required.) These are enabled by default in web browsers. The status display will let you know if these are turned on or off (as best the page can detect – occasionally the detection does not work.) If this message comes up consistently even after JavaScript and cookies are enabled, then there most likely is an installation problem, plugin conflict, or JavaScript conflict. Read on for possible solutions.

  6. If you have multiple domains that resolve to the same server, or are parked on the same hosting account, make sure the domain set in the WordPress configuration options matches the domain where you are accessing the blog from. In other words, if you have people going to your blog using www.yourdomain.com/ and the WordPress configuration has: www.yourdomain2.com/ you will have a problem (not just with this plugin, but with a lot of things.)

  7. Check your WordPress Version. If you are using a release earlier than 2.3, you may want to upgrade for a whole slew of reasons, including features and security.

  8. Check the options you have selected to make sure they are not disabling a feature you want to use.

  9. Make sure that you are not using other front-end anti-spam plugins (CAPTCHA’s, challenge questions, etc) since there’s no longer a need for them, and these could likely conflict. (Back-end anti-spam plugins like Akismet are fine, although unnecessary.)

  10. Check for conflicts with other JavaScripts installed on your site. This usually occurs with with JavaScripts unrelated to WordPress or plugins. However some themes contain JavaScripts that aren’t compatible. (And some don’t have the call to the wp_head() function which is also a problem. Read on to see how to test/fix this issue.) If in doubt, try switching themes. If that fixes it, then you know the theme was at fault. If you discover a conflicting theme, please let us know.

  11. Check for conflicts with other WordPress plugins installed on your blog. Although errors don’t occur often, this is one of the most common causes of the errors that do occur. I can’t guarantee how well-written other plugins will be. First, see the Known Plugin Conflicts list. If you’ve disabled any plugins on that list and still have a problem, then proceed. To start testing for conflicts, temporarily deactivate all other plugins except WP-SpamFree. Then check to see if WP-SpamFree works by itself. (For best results make sure you are logged out and clear your cookies. Alternatively you can use another browser for testing.) If WP-SpamFree allows you to post a comment with no errors, then you know there is a plugin conflict. The next step is to activate each plugin, one at a time, log out, and try to post a comment. Then log in, deactivate that plugin, and repeat with the next plugin. (If possible, use a second browser to make it easier. Then you don’t have to keep logging in and out with the first browser.) Be sure to clear cookies between attempts (before loading the page you want to comment on). If you do identify a plugin that conflicts, please let me know so I can work on bridging the compatibility issues.

  12. Make sure the theme you are using has the call to wp_head() (which most properly coded themes do) usually found in the header.php file. It will be located somewhere before the </head> tag. If not, you can insert it before the </head> tag and save the file. If you’ve never edited a theme before, proceed at your own risk: In the WordPress admin, go to Themes (Appearance) – Theme Editor; Click on Header (or header.php); Locate the line with </head> and insert <?php wp_head(); ?> before it.

  13. On the WP-SpamFree Options page in the WordPress Admin, under “General Options”, check the option “M2 – Use two methods to set cookies.” and see if this helps.

  14. If have checked all of these, and still can’t quite get it working, please submit a support request at the WP-SpamFree Support Page.

Version History / Changelog

For a complete list of changes to the plugin, view the Version History.

Updates / Documentation

For updates and documentation, visit the homepage of the WP-SpamFree Comment Spam Plugin for WordPress.

WordPress Security Note

As with any WordPress plugin, for security reasons, you should only download plugins from the author’s site and from official WordPress repositories. When other sites host a plugin that is developed by someone else, they may inject code into that could compromise the security of your blog. We cannot endorse a version of this that you may have downloaded from another site. If you have downloaded the “WP-SpamFree” plugin from another site, please download the current release from the official WP-SpamFree site or from the official WP-SpamFree page on WordPress.org.

Installation

Installation Instructions

  1. After downloading, unzip file and upload the enclosed wp-spamfree directory to your WordPress plugins directory: /wp-content/plugins/.

  2. As always, activate the plugin on your WordPress plugins page.

  3. Check to make sure the plugin is installed properly. Many support requests for this plugin originate from improper installation and can be easily prevented. To check proper installation status, go to the WP-SpamFree page in your Admin. It’s a submenu link on the Plugins page. Go the the ‘Installation Status’ area near the top and it will tell you if the plugin is installed correctly. If it tells you that the plugin is not installed correctly, please double-check what directory you have installed WP-SpamFree in, delete any WP-SpamFree files you have uploaded to your server, re-read the Installation Instructions, and start the Installation process over from step 1. If it is installed correctly, then move on to the next step.

  4. Select desired configuration options. Due to popular request, I’ve added the option to block trackbacks and pingbacks if the user feels they are excessive. I’d recommend not doing this, but the choice is yours.

  5. If you are using front-end anti-spam plugins (CAPTCHA’s, challenge questions, etc), be sure they are disabled since there’s no longer a need for them, and these could likely conflict. (Back-end anti-spam plugins like Akismet are fine, although unnecessary.)

You’re done! Sit back and see what it feels like to live without comment spam!

For Best Results

WP-SpamFree was created specifically to stop automated comment spam (which accounts for over 99% of comment spam), and recently we have added some features that help combat human comment spam, as well as trackback/pingback spam. Unfortunately, no plugin can perfectly detect human comment spam. As other experts will tell you, the most effective strategy for blocking spam involves applying a variety of techniques. For best results, enable comment moderation, and if you desire a backup, feel free to use Akismet (even though unnecessary), as the two plugins are compatible.

Displaying Stats on Your Blog

Want to show off your spam stats on your blog and tell others about WP-SpamFree? Simply add the following code to your WordPress theme where you’d like the stats displayed: <?php if ( function_exists(spamfree_counter) ) { spamfree_counter(1); } ?> where ‘1’ is the style. Replace the ‘1’ with a number from 1-9 corresponding to one of the background styles you’d like to use. (See plugin admin page for more info.)

To add stats to individual posts, you’ll need to install the Exec-PHP plugin.

To add smaller counter to your site, add the following code to your WordPress theme where you’d like the stats displayed: <?php if ( function_exists(spamfree_counter) ) { spamfree_counter(1); } ?> where ‘1’ is the style. Replace the ‘1’ with a number from 1-5 that corresponds to one of the following. (See plugin admin page for more info.)

Or, you can simply use the widget. It displays stats in the style of small counter #1. Now you can show spam stats on your blog without knowing any code.

Adding a Contact Form to Your Blog

First create a page (not post) where you want to have your contact form. Then, insert the following tag (using the HTML editing tab, NOT the Visual editor) and you’re done: <!--spamfree-contact-->

There is no need to configure the form. It allows you to simply drop it into the page you want to install it on. However, there are a few basic configuration options. You can choose whether or not to include Phone and Website fields, whether they should be required, add a drop down menu with up to 10 options, set the width and height of the Message box, set the minimum message length, set the form recipient, enter a custom message to be displayed upon successful contact form submission, and choose whether or not to include user technical data in the email.

If you want to modify the style of the form using CSS, all the form elements have an ID attribute you can reference in your stylesheet.

What the Contact Form feature IS: A simple drop-in contact form that won’t get spammed.

What the Contact Form feature is NOT: A configurable and full-featured plugin like some other contact form plugins out there.

Note: Please do not request new features for the contact form, as the main focus of the plugin is spam protection. Thank you.

Configuration Information

Spam Options

M2 – Use two methods to set cookies.
This adds a secondary non-JavaScript method to set cookies in addition to the standard JS method.

Blocked Comment Logging Mode
This is a temporary diagnostic mode that logs blocked comment submissions for 7 days, then turns off automatically. If you want to see what spam has been blocked on your site, this is the option to use. Also, if you experience any technical issues, this will help with diagnosis, as you can email this log file to support if necessary. If you suspect you are having a technical issue, please turn this on right away and start logging data. Then submit a support request, and we’ll email you back asking to see the log file so we can help you fix whatever the issue may be. The log is cleared each time this feature is turned on, so make sure you download the file before turning it back on. Also the log is capped at 2MB for security. This feature may use slightly higher server resources, so for best performance, only use when necessary. (Most websites won’t notice any difference.)

Log All Comments
Requires that Blocked Comment Logging Mode be engaged. Instead of only logging blocked comments, this will allow the log to capture all comments while logging mode is turned on. This provides more technical data for comment submissions than WordPress provides, and helps us improve the plugin. If you plan on submitting spam samples to us for analysis, it’s helpful for you to turn this on, otherwise it’s not necessary. If you have any spam comments that you feel WP-SpamFree should have blocked (usually human spam), then please submit a support request. When we email you back we will ask you to forward the data to us by email.

This extra data will be extremely valuable in helping us improve the spam protection capabilites of the plugin.

Disable trackbacks.
Use if trackback spam is excessive. It is recomended that you don’t use this option unless you are experiencing an extreme spam attack.

Disable pingbacks.
Use if pingback spam is excessive. The disadvantage is a reduction of communication between blogs. When blogs ping each other, it’s like saying “Hi, I just wrote about you” and disabling these pingbacks eliminates that ability. It is recomended that you don’t use this option unless you are experiencing an extreme spam attack.

Help promote WP-SpamFree?
This places a small link under the comments and contact form, letting others know what’s blocking spam on your blog. This plugin is provided for free, so this is much appreciated. It’s a small way you can give back and let others know about WP-SpamFree.

Contact Form Options
These are self-explanatory.

FAQ

Please see the FAQ’s.

Also, see the troubleshooting guide.

If you have any further questions, please submit them on the support page.

Reviews

Looks OK but………..

Note I am using latest version WordPress which is not listed as compatible with this.

Its not clear if the spam stopper is meant to work on the contact form but it doesnt as far as I can tell.

Also, unlike another contact form which sends one, when the integrated one wp-spamfree is used I received 3 emails from each user. Thats spam!

There is obviously a lot of work gone into this plugin and mine shows as working properly, but it isnt unfortunately the author is no longer supporting it either.

Great concept but server load, oh-la-la

We take care of websites in the financial industry and real estate sector. As you can imagine, for years these sites were the top target of spammers. WP Spam Free stopped the spam dead in its tracks until WP Spam Free got our account suspended at our hosting company. We didn’t know that much about server load back then so just put it onto our own dedicated server. WP Spam Free very quickly taught us that greedy plugins are a real problem for server CPU.

So we coded an alternative with very low CPU. FV Antispam. We still maintain our version, including a hands on support forum.

Ended up here while trying to figure out why WP Spam Free’s twitter account died in 2011 and wanted to post an antis-spam alternative with low CPU and which is still current.

Read all 5 reviews

Contributors & Developers

“WP-SpamFree Anti-Spam” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.

Contributors