Thursday, March 17, 2011

Managing Comment Spam

A roundup of links and resources for managing comment spam.

No one likes spam.  Everyone loves to get comments, but spammy comments take up too much time and too many resources.  Fortunately, there are some automated ways to deal with it.

Commenting Systems:
Disqus and Intense Debate are two popular commenting platforms that prevent spam. Disqus can be installed on Blogger.  Be careful with these.  If you decide to uninstall them, you might lose all of your comments.

Akismet spam plugin comes highly recommended for WordPress bloggers, but recently Akismet moved to a paid model ($5-50 a month).  It used to be free which is why so many used it.  What other tools can a blogger use to block spam?

My personal favorite spam blocker is a WP plug-in, No SpamNX.  This blocks robot spammers by creating an invisible field to fill in.  Robots using automated programming to view and post on websites see the field, and fill it in- flagging themselves as spammers.  Humans can't see the field and their comments go through.

Other plugins add captcha, random questions, or math problems.

Discussion Management:
You can also block certain words, phrases, or IPs in WordPress.  For example, I have some profane words blocked plus the worst Spam comment keywords.  I had a problem with foreign language spam so I also added a few Russian letters to my "autoblock" list, too.

Other management techniques include flagging comments with more than one link, disabling comments on old blog posts, or making commenters sign up through their Facebook profile or Twitter account.

Captcha codes are those wiggly numbers/words/math problems that have to be entered to "prove" you are human.  They do cut down on spam but they also reduce the number of actual, quality commenters.

I've only seen one site use captcha to its advantage.  The site owner started a meme for "real" commenters to give the definition of their captcha words in the comments, resulting in some hilariously creative responses that were worth reading just for themselves.

For the love of Pete, please don't have captcha AND comment moderation on at the same time.  That is a huge turnoff and will kill your comment rates.

Always remember that you do not want to be so aggressive in blocking spam that you make it hard or annoying for your readers to comment.

What do other bloggers have to say about spam?
Best Way To Have Quality Comments Only from Pro Blog Design
Blogger Adds Spam Filters
Do You Spam?  Spammy Things to Stop Doing Now!

More WP Plugins:
GrowMap Anti Spam review from Moomette's Magnificance.  Phil Hollows of Feedblitz recommends this one, too!   Blocks spambots by making commenters click on a check box.

No SpamNX blocks spambots using an invisible-to-humans field.

Block Spam by Math Reloaded

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 2011 Meeting

The March meeting of Houston Blogging Chicks will be up north.

HEB Cypress Market Community Room
24224 Northwest Fwy 
Cypress, TX 77429
March 17,  7 pm

A huge thanks to Heather from Freebie4Mom for helping me arrange a meeting location so I could spend more time with my new baby!

A reminder, nursing babies (and husbands, FWIW) are always welcome at Houston Blogging Chicks meetings.

This venue doesn't have wi-fi, but bring your phones because we're going to talk about our favorite apps (for blogging and for life).

We'll also be talking about how to deal with spam, especially now that Akismet has moved to a paid subscription model.  Come prepared to share your solutions!

And of course there should be plenty of time for chatting and networking, too!

See you there!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February 2011 Meeting

I'm busy with our new baby, but Bobbie Byrd from Clumsy Crafter will be hosting the February meeting so we don't miss a month!

Meeting will be at
La Madeleine
6500 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77057
(Voss and Woodway)
7:30 pm

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Houston Blogging Chicks Meetings and Logistics

Hey, HBCs!

The Central Market room is booked up until June.  In an effort to be more consistent, we'll be meeting on the THIRD THURSDAY of the month from now on.  We'll continue rotating the meetings through the city, in an effort to make at least a few meetings convenient for all bloggers.

The meetings will include free discussion/networking time, a beginner's topic, and a more advanced bloggers topic.  If you have an idea for a meeting, something you can speak authoritatively on, or sometihng that your blog specializes in (such as giveaways), and you'd like to moderate or lead a discussion, let me know and I'll get you on my list!

However, I still need ideas for meeting places!  We've had some great places (Central Market) and some real duds (La Madeleine's, Galleria.)  Leave any thoughts, ideas, places, etc. in the comments. Where would you like to meet?

The meeting schedule for the next few months is as follows:
March 17, meeting North (CyFair, Cypress, Woodlands area)
April 21, meeting West
May 19, meeting South/SouthEast (Pasadena, Pearland)
June 16, meeting Central (inside 610 loop)
July 21, meeting North

I prefer a location that has a room or a separate area so we can have a great discussion without competing with ambient noise.

Location should accomodate all budgets. A restaurant where each guest must order a meal is not ideal.  La Madeleine's, Panera, a cafe, etc. where members can grab a cup of tea, a light dessert, or a full dinner depending on their needs would be a good choice.

You are the expert on your area- so toss out a few ideas!  Also if there is anything you'd like to see as a topic soon, throw that in the comments, too.  Upcoming topics include a full series on monetization (affiliates, ad networks, media kits, selling products/ebooks); using Facebook to promote your site; goal review and check-in; getting great photos for your blog; graphics, headers, buttons, and more (plus how to DIY); working with PR reps; gaining traffic; evergreen content and SEO; family privacy vs. open blogging; and more.

Do you tweet?
Don't forget to check our hashtag, #houstonbloggers and follow the Houston Blogging Chicks list!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Goal Setting for Bloggers

A link roundup to jumpstart your thinking and planning!

Embracing What I Am, What I'm Not: knowing yourself is the key to successful goal setting

The Blogger's Guide to Goal Setting John Chow shares words of wisdom.  

SMART Goal Setting for Bloggers from Standout Blogger.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound.

Blogging Goals linkup at Savvy Blogging!

Share your favorite site that helps you be a better blogger in the comments!

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 2011 meeting

Houston Blogging Chicks will be holding their January meeting at Central Market, in the upper meeting room.  You can purchase something from the store, deli, or cafe to snack on (no outside food and drinks).

Thursday, Jan. 13
8 pm
Central Market
3815 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX(713) 386-1700 

RSVP on Twitter (@milehimama) or email Lisa.  Come join us for a Blogging Girl's Night Out!
Any area female blogger is welcome to attend- if they can make the meeting, they can come even if they don't live in Houston.

We'll be talking about goal setting and plans for the New Year, and I'd also love to hear from anyone who's gone to Blissdom or has tickets for this year!

This is a great time to find someone to mentor, choose a goal partner, or just share your plans for accountability.

Optional "homework":
 Before the meeting, please spend a few minutes setting goals for your blog for the next year. Why are you blogging? How do you want to see your blog grow? Do you want to earn an income from your blog, and if so, do you want a little extra, a part time income, or a full time income? Maybe you don't want to monetize, but you want to be an influencer, practice your writing skills, or create a thriving community.

Determine what you want. You can share with the group at the next meeting for accountability, encouragement, and support or just keep your goals private. 

If you don't know where you're going, you won't know how to get there!

Check back or subscribe via RSS - I'll be putting up links to great goal setting articles soon!


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