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Dealing With Spam User Signups

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A member has noticed a bunch of odd user signups and wonders if they are spam and what he should do about it. We discuss the reasons for allowing a user to sign up, how to moderate comments and how to allow user signups while blocking spam signups.

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Video Transcript

Rick: Chris I’m gonna put you on the microphone here. Hi Chris.

Chris: Hey how are you doing?

Chris: I’m doing great. So why don’t you just restate your question?

Rick: What about a blog of… off WordPress blog of…I’ve had it about a year and I keep getting these user registration notifications so I’m very excited about them when it happened. I’m on my blog right now, I think I have around 297. But a lot of these users registration don’t appear like they’re real people. They look like they’re almost like auto sign ups. Very weird names and you know the extensions I don’t recognize. It almost seems like it’s a link building or spam building and I guess my question is, is that possible? Is there systems out there that can be able to figure out like how to auto register on to a WordPress site?

Chris: Absolutely. That’s what that stuff is, in fact. It’s an attempt at spam and so if you… why do you want people to register for your site?

Rick: Well, I guess the original thinking was that I didn’t want for just anybody to be able to post comments. I know that you can handle you know, managing the comments before they actually go live on the site. So I think at the beginning what I was thinking was yeah, let me have them register because if they register, then they’ll be a little bit more held to a higher level if they’re posting a comment to a blog post.

Rick: And has that worked for you?

Chris: No, not really. I mean, like I said, mostly these entities that are subscribed to me have never posted anything. So you know, I guess my thinking should change and maybe not make them register but still moderate the comments. I’m assuming that’s possible.

Rick: Yeah, so what… the reason you’re getting that comment is this right here, right. If you’re on your general settings, you’ve got this checked that says anybody can register.

Chris: Right.

Rick: I don’t have that checked so nobody can… well, actually you can register for my site if you go through my registration process. You know, that’s managed by the membership plugin. But you can’t just automatically register from the site and you know, I have tons of comments, well, maybe let’s just go the dashboard. I have you know, 204 comments and it is always the case, I mean I have it set up so that if you’re gonna post, if you post a comment… I have to approve the comment the first time and then if I approve the comment the first time, then from that point on, your comments get automatically added. But if I don’t like the comment, I can always just delete it.

Chris: Right. But they don’t have to register anything like that. They could just… a lot of the site… they’ve never been there for and they could post a comment, it automatically goes into a moderation status so you still have control over that comment before it actually shows up on your website. There’s no registration involved then.

Rick: That’s right.

Chris: Okay. That’s a good idea.

Rick: And do you use  Akismet?

Chris: Yes.

Rick: Okay because  Akismet will go a very, very long way to you know, eliminating spam comments, right? I mean, my a kismet stats, it’s got 35 000 spams so…

Chris: Yeah, I got you there. Mine’s 38 056.

Rick: There you go. So, yeah but you know, all of those apparently odd sign ups, you know, the only reason I think that allows somebody to sign up for your site is if you… is if they can do something once they’ve signed up and so obviously this is a membership site so you know, members can get around to places. A lot of the site is not available if you’re not logged in so you have to a member in order to get there but if it’s… I don’t think you need that for moderating comments.

Chris: So by just unchecking the anyone can register under the general settings, that takes the site from the registration requirement to a non-registration requirement?

Rick: That eliminates the ability to register and then under… that’s under general. Let me go under discussion…and you know, you allow people to post comments and articles but the comment author’s going to give you their name and email. They’ll let anybody post a comment but you’ll hold the post… you’ll hold the comment for moderation and you can either have it set that all comments are always moderated regardless or you can have it set so that if they’ve been approved once, they’re automatically…

Chris: Yeah. Now going back to the idea about probably getting spam, how does that propagate spam if they’re registering to my site?

Rick: Because some people, if they’re set up as a subscriber, they can actually fill something out or do something. And so they can actually add content to your site.

Chris: Okay, that’s not the case with mine. I don’t understand how that will be possible.

Rick: Well so if you for example, if you’ve had a live chat feature, you know, you might on your site. So if somebody can come to your site and they could just chat with you. Well, you might require them to be a registered user first in order for them to be really able to do that. Now that changes the content of your site because the chat gets indexed and everything else but you know, there may be reasons for allowing users to add content to your site besides comments. I don’t have any… well, actually the forum was an example of that for me also, right? The forum was a place where users can add content and so I want to be able to acquire users so that they can add that content. I just don’t want anybody to be able to do it. I want to have a system of it, you know, I’m making that decision. For my free… the thing I use to do that… with my free registration is AWeber because if it’s a spam registration, AWeber sends out that confirmation email. If it’s spam registration, they’re not going to respond to it so it never becomes… they never get subscribed. You have to… you actually have to respond to AWeber’s email in order to become a member of the site, even a free member. And so that’s what I use to… if I get somebody to respond to AWeber email, they can be a free member on my site.

Chris: Right. So AWeber’s equivalent to like catcha, is that called?

Rick: No, AWeber is my email auto responder so if you get an email from me, you’ve actually gotten it from AWeber.

Chris: I see.

Rick: Mailchimp will do the same thing… I mean, there’s a lot of email auto responders out there.

Chris: Right. Okay, cool. Thank you so much.

Rick: You’re welcome, Chris.

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