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Attack of the Mean Commenter: Blocking Commenters and Comments on Your WordPress Blog

By now, you all should know that you have total control over your blog’s comments, right? You can choose to allow only registered users to comment, delete any comment you want, edit any comment, and do the same for trackbacks. While it helps to have a good comments policy, you still have total control over who, what, and how people comment on your blog.

I recently discussed ways to protect your WordPress blog from hackers and other nasties of web life, and today I cover how to protect your blog from the attack of the mean commenter.

First, let me say that except in cases of libel and defamation, anyone has the right in most “civilized” countries to say what they want about you – on their blog not yours. It’s their playground, so if they want to play nasty, it’s their right. However, you do not have to let their sand spill into your sandbox.

Again, you have the right to delete, edit, and control comments and commenters on your blog. You have the “right to refuse service”, so to speak. You also have the right to respond or not, it’s up to you. Just remember, many mean commenters live for your response. They thrive on the negative attention, so by responding, you may be throwing fuel on the fire. Think your response through thoroughly before you take action. Make sure you will have no regrets for the actions you take.

How To Stop Commenters From Commenting On Your WordPress Blog

There are several ways to handle nasty comments and commenters. One is to ignore them. However, then your readers have to look at the nasty comment. And you have to look at it for a long time as it sits there, fermenting on your blog. Do you want that?

Here are some of your options for handling nasty commenters and comments on your WordPress blog.

Manually Delete Nasty Comments

You can manually delete or edit any comment from the WordPress Administration Comments panel.

You can also mark it and submit it as comment spam, though I do not recommend you take that action, no matter how much you may want to. It’s “revenge” thinking.

Judge the comment and not the commenter by simply deleting the comment. The comment and commenter may be offensive, but that is no reason for you to make their life miserable by attempting to add them to the comment spam list on Akismet or another comment spam fighting tool. If it is comment spam, mark it appropriately.

Just delete or edit the comment and be done with it.

Require Comment Registration

While I am not in favor of this option, if you want to seriously restrict and control comments on your blog, you can require registration in order to comment on your blog.

In the panel for Options > General there is an option for Membership. To enable the option for Users must be registered and logged in to comment, click the check box to turn it on and click Update Options.

WordPress Administration Panel - Require registration in order to comment on the blog

To disable this and open your blog to comments from anyone, make sure this check box is unchecked.

Block The Commenter From Within WordPress

When a person comments on your blog, their IP address is recorded in the comment’s information, seen only in the Comments panel. You can use this, and other comment form information to block the commenter from within WordPress.

With the information in hand, go to Options > Discussion and at the bottom you will find Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist.

In the box, you can add information that will be added to a filter that every comment must pass through before being released onto your blog. If any of the information in the box is found, the comment is marked automatically to be moderated, if in the Comment Moderation box, or as spam, if the information is in the Comment Blacklist. Take care and add the information to the appropriate box.

The information you can add to the list in the box includes:

  • Words: You can use any words in the Comment Blacklist to filter out comments. The traditional “nasty words”, swear words, and comment spam words are already filtered, but there may be some specific words or phrases you will not allow on your blog. Add them one line at a time to the list. Take care, though. The example given is that if you include the word “press”, all instances of “WordPress” will be filtered. Avoid common words or parts of words to avoid filtering legitimate comments.
  • Names: Add names of the commenters to the list to moderate or mark them as comment spam. Like words, take care that the name is fairly unique. Adding “John” to the list does more harm than good, but “John Goodenov” is fairly unique.
  • URL: If the mean commenter includes their URL, the domain name for their blog, in their comments form, you can add this to the list.
  • Email: Like the URL, you can add their email to the list to filter their comment.
  • IP Address: From the comments form, you can copy and paste in their IP address to add it to the filter. IP addresses can be faked and changed, so don’t rely upon this if you truly want to filter out an offensive commenter.

The key to really blocking a mean commenter is using a combination of information. For instance, you can block a person fairly securely if you put the following in the Moderation Blacklist:

Fredrica Spaghetti
123.45.678.910
spaghetti@fredrica.com

http://www.fredrica.com

Block IP Address in the .htaccess File

While possible, but not recommended, you can block their IP Address in your .htaccess file for users of the full version of WordPress. This, however, blocks them totally from your blog, not just from leaving comments on your blog.

In the .htaccess file, add:

order deny,allow
deny from 123.45.678.910
allow from all

This is a serious step and should not be taken lightly. It blocks them from access, but they can easily change their IP address and be back to do more harm. Use this cautiously and wisely.

Remember: Do No Harm

Remember to take the “high road” on mean commenters. Be better than they are. Rise above, don’t lower yourself to their level. While they have the right to say what they will, to a point, you do not have to participate. It may hurt, but it will heal in time. All things will pass.

In other words, don’t let the trolls suck out your blogging life force. :D

Not all mean comments are meant to be spiteful. Maybe the commenter was in a bad mood. Maybe they just like the negative attention. Maybe you are in a bad mood and reading the comment wrong. Anything is possible. Take time before taking action.

However, do not tolerate mean, spiteful, and vindictiveness wherever you find it, even on the web. There is no place for it, whatever its intention, especially on your blog.

You are editing your blog for you and your readers, so think of their comfort zone, too. Should they have to read nasty comments to you, about you, or your blog post on your blog?

Blog safe and happy.

And consider adding a comments policy to your blog, just in case you need something to point a finger at.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

26 Comments

  1. Posted September 13, 2007 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I find the best thing to do is have the comments await moderation so that nothing appears on your blog before you have a chance to vet it. There have only been three or four nasty comments out of hundreds so far. I let one be published because he made a fool out of himself by what he said, so my job was done for me. The others were simply too insulting and inflammatory for anyone to pay serious attention to. Because that’s all they want: attention.

  2. Posted September 13, 2007 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Besides spam comments that slipped through, I’ve only had 2 comments that needed to be taken care of. And both were done about 3 months after the original post so I doubt that many people saw them. I check my comments pretty often, so I just rely on that mostly.

  3. Posted September 13, 2007 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    letters: I don’t have life to put all my comments in moderation. And your numbers prove that. Three or four out of hundreds is a tiny amount. I love those those whose comments “speak for themselves”. I’ve often said that comments are mini-resumes, and they speak loudly, don’t they. :D

    Chris: Frequent checking and cleaning out of the really nasty comments is easy to do. I’m with you. I rely on my comment spam filters to pick up what they can, and deal with the rest manually.

    Still, if someone is really abusing your blog, and you, then it helps to know you can block them. There is power in just letting it go away and ignoring them, and putting all your focus and energy back on the positive stuff.

  4. Posted September 13, 2007 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I’ve had a recent “attack” by a troll. I received about 30 comments on a post from the same IP address from someone who used different names and fake email addresses. The comments attacked my post, but I can’t say that they weren’t articulate. At first I tried to answer, but that just brought more comments. In a following post, I asked the readers what I should do with these comments, and most of them said that if the troll left, I can leave the comments and just laugh about it. So, that’s what I did…

  5. Posted September 13, 2007 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the useful tips, Lorelle! I had nearly forgotten about the Comment Blacklist option, mainly because I use the Comments panel more often than the Options > Discussion one.

  6. Posted September 13, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I have never had to use the comment blacklist, although I have deleted a number of comments whose only purpose appeared to be intended to get a rise out of me or my readers.

    My view is that while I might disapprove of one comment let’s say, I do want to give a person the chance for redemption.

    However, if it became a pattern I will certainly take this option into consideration.

  7. Posted September 13, 2007 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    My experience with trolls and over-excited posts on my chat board, is the that editing a comment is usually poison. The author is more likely to cry ‘freedom of speech’ (on my private script, I know), express anger – and leave the venue. With a bitter taste in his mouth. A few times I got away with it, but I learned to be ready to lose the visitor, and their circle of contacts.

    Surprisingly, I got almost no complaints about deleting entries. And this turned out to be the single most important tactic for defeating trolls, after posting the IP address of the author with time stamp on every post.

    And I found that holding my tongue was important, to manage trolls. Anything I said either to or about a troll – fed the troll, inviting the beast to return. I answer questions about anything I did, but never until someone asked.

    Thanks for the reminders of the WordPress options!

  8. Posted September 14, 2007 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, what about empty comments like ‘O, great!!!’ ‘O, thanks!!!’?
    Do you leave them? Delete them?

  9. Posted September 14, 2007 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Brad K: I’ve been cleaning up comments for many years and have only received a few responses – some saying thank you for fixing the spelling. Only twice has someone got nasty when I deleted a comment, but I didn’t put it back or apologize. Forums, however, are different animals in that respect as they are ALL about the conversation.

    You are right on with not feeding the trolls. They want and need the response so ignoring them is the best response. Starved, they go elsewhere for food.

    Jacob: Depends. If the comment form information looks spammy, it’s gone. If it looks like a sincere comment, I’ll leave it. Sometimes, that’s all anyone has the courage to say. Or all they can think of to say.

    However, if I have a long list of comments for a blog post, and there is valuable information within those comments, among the “thanks” and “very cool info” useless comments, I will clean those out in time so that the valuable comments are easier to scroll through.

    No offense to the commenter is intended, it’s just I don’t expect those who say “cool”, “wow”, and “thanks” to be back to check their comments. :D

  10. Posted September 17, 2007 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    this is informative. Thanks. After all that’s been happening recently in our small circle of bloggers, it would be wise for everybody to read this. thanks for posting.

  11. prydonian93
    Posted October 2, 2007 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Is there any way to stop the scammers that take an exerpt from every post on your blog?

  12. Posted October 2, 2007 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Scammers? Those are called splogs. Yes. You can tell them to stop. You can add their IP address to your filters and blocking techniques and options. You can make it clear in your copyright statement and policy that you do not allow usage of your content, even as excerpts. That will set the guidelines for what you describe as Fair Use under the copyright laws. However, since it isn’t “standard”, you might have some problems if it gets to court.

    As a rule, if they are using excerpts within Fair Use, there isn’t anything you can do, but you can try. I’d try. I do it all the time. It is my copyright policy that there be no use “commercial” use of my content, and putting my content on ad filled blogs without my permission is a violation of that policy.

  13. Posted April 27, 2008 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Apologies Lorelle. The above comment is from my 2.5 year old daughter. She got hold of my laptop when I was away and she thought of getting the ‘youngest commenter of this blog’ award!

  14. Posted April 27, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    @ Blue Champion:

    Darn, I deleted it before I saw your note. I would have loved to have left it, honoring the youngest commenter…at least that I know of. :D Thanks for getting her into social networking early – one of the VERY early adopters. :D

  15. Posted July 12, 2008 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    I wanted to thank you because your Article got me to thinking about my situation. I used your link so that my Members could read more also. It’s insane, especially if your dealing with Groups and Pre-Madonnas who think they know it all. Anyway, please accept my thanks again.

  16. Posted July 12, 2008 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    @ Shade:

    Glad to help, but I’m not sure how. Your rambling post was very hard to follow and made sweeping generalizations. I am a strong advocate for dealing with troubles on my blogs – all blogs – in a quite, dignified, and private manner, especially when dealing with mean-spirited bloggers and commenters. The less public fuss, the better the blogger looks and the less attention the bully gets.

    By the way, my name is Lorelle VanFossen. Attention to details and strong editing skills are highly valued on the web. :D

  17. domains
    Posted December 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I have a blog with over 3m hits and I have my share of trolls… IRC scrips like 123.123.123.123 ip expl in there you bann 123.123.* the star banns any ip generated after but I tried with wordpress and its not supported. :(
    Now i’m trying ip trick… You google find isp/address with ip expl… place ip of troll there and it will give all his info if not hiding behide a proxy.
    not sure if wordpress supports address/isp banns in blacklist but thats my next test.

  18. James Lande
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle,

    Your post is quite useful for we who are just learning about blogging – it still has
    a life even after three years.

  19. Posted September 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Spammers are so annoying to me -_-

    They act all nice to you just so they’ll get more hits on their blog. You can tell their truly a fraud when they compliment you, but never referrence the topic or anything about your blog. Ugh.

    Thanks for the useful help, though. I think this’ll deter my crazy lunatic commenters that attack me. In 48 hours I’ve gotten 750+ spam comments.

    • Posted September 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Before you go too crazy, know there is a difference between comment spam, mean comments, and attacks. If it is true comment spam, make sure you read Do Not Delete Comment Spam. Mark Spam as Spam. It is very SERIOUS that you do not delete comment spam. Mark it as Spam and WordPress.com and Akismet will take care of the rest.

      If it is harassment and attacks, contact WordPress.com for help and, if necessary, contact the police. It is illegal.

    • Posted September 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      I was able to fix it with the tips suggested. Thank you so much! Blocking the non-registered users has haulted their spam-fests entirely.

    • Posted September 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Fantastic. I know it is a pain, but if this is really from one person, get help from WordPress.com and report it to the police. Sometimes nasty folks escalate and you want to protect yourself at all costs. Be safe!

    • Posted September 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. Oddly, their email address was different each time, as was their IP address. I received a lot of other spammers today, too. Luckily, it is all history now. Thank you so much for this information! It has saved my blog’s spam box. :T

  20. fourpageletter
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    hmm..
    there seems to be a lot of advice on what NOT to do/what you wouldn’t recommend.
    so the alternative is to try and ‘rise above’ and be bullied?
    sometimes comments DO warrant extreme action (cyberbullying is real) and so are the effects of it.

    • Posted March 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure I understand your statement. The article offers advice on how to resolve the issue. Are you trying to find justification for aggressive and potentially illegal action against someone for a comment on your site?

      Cyberbullying is very real. There are many options to choose from when it comes to responding. One of your choices is to rise above, others are to deal with it peacefully, ignore it, or take legal action if their action breaks laws. You have many choices. This article from 2007 offers just a few options. There are now laws in place to protect people from online abuse. It’s up to you to choose wisely for yourself and your situation.

  21. Jackson Davies at Blogprefect
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    Thanks for your tips. I’ve had to put some to use recently because I seem to have upset someone, not really sure how but I seem to have picked up this troll. The language is somewhat hateful towards myself and my blog. My choice so far has been to delete but as I’ve now received a second I’ve decided to block. I think it is wise if you have a comment you are not sure about, not to let them proceed. My site has a capcha so you have to be a human to comment. I’ve also gone to lengths to prevent spam in general on my site.


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  10. […] Attack of the Mean Commenter: Blocking Commenters and Comments on Your WordPress Blog: Do you have a mean commenter, one who just enjoys saying vicious and nasty things? There are some easy tips for preventing your vicious reader from commenting, or even viewing your blog, or worse. […]

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