Closing Comments to Control Spam

About a week ago, I set WordPress to automatically close comments on posts over 90 days old on my Reclaimer website. Spam comments over there have become completely unreasonable lately, with Akismet catching and filtering out upwards of 300 spam a day. The vast majority ended up going into the Pending queue rather than the Spam queue for whatever reason. No big deal, mind you; it was only one additional step to filter them into the Spam buffer and then out of the system completely, but it was becoming a tad annoying. That was when I decided to try closing comments to see what effect it would have on spam. Very few of my readers, even new ones, ever comment on the old archives anyway, so cutting that section out of dialogue was no huge loss.

I also use the IntenseDebate commenting system on all my WordPress installations. I was puzzled to discover that setting WordPress to automatically close comments had no effect on IntenseDebate. I spent a little while trying to figure out why before finally giving up and just accepting that something somewhere was broken.

Today, it clicked in my head – IntenseDebate doesn’t replace the native WordPress commenting system; it simply overlays it. By changing the auto-close setting for comments, WordPress closed the native commenting system without affecting the IntenseDebate commenting system (which seems to be a little more robust about handling spam). Spammers appear to target the native WordPress commenting system while ignoring the IntenseDebate system – possibly because IntenseDebate loads via javascript – and since the native system is closed on the posts they target, they don’t have a way to infiltrate. In the last week, I’ve watched the number of spam that slip through go from 300+ a day to just one or two a day. The difference is remarkable, and I’ve heard zero complaints from readers about not being able to comment on older posts.

Probably I should have realized how this worked sooner, but sometimes I’m just a little slower on the uptake.

4 thoughts on “Closing Comments to Control Spam”

  1. cool stuff jim, reading this made me wonder why you didnt get any spam on intensedebate, looks like you do get spam, we just dont see it ^^ cool beans. maybe this could also have a small effect on page load times for older comics, and also on how fast the site itself loads.

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