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Comment Guard Pro Features

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Complete Comment Spam Protection
Comment Guard provides comprehensive comment spam protection against all types of comment spams known, automated or manual. Comment spams are mostly (not always) generated by automated scripts / bots using either comment form submission, pingback or trackback.
Comment spam using comment form
Most comment spams today are submitted using automated scripts / bots which simulates the manual comment submission process using the comment form (normally located below a post). Comment Guard Pro (using the Are you Human? pluglet) provides 100% protection so far against automated spams using the comment form. We employ multiple layers of protection to ensure that a comment is submitted by a human and not a script / bot. All these checks are fully transparent to your users and require no additional action on their part (with the exception of Javascript disabled browsers which comprise of less than 0.1 % of total comments received).
Trackback spam

Trackback is one of three types of Linkbacks, methods for Web authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their documents. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking to, or referring to their articles.

Spammers are extensively abusing the TrackBack feature to insert spam links in blogs (sping). Trackback spam was widely adopted by spammers because it was able to avoid some of the safeguards designed to stop normal comment spam (using the comment form). However not any longer.

Trackback spams are on the rise and comprise the second most source of comment spams in Wordpress blogs.

Comment Guard Pro employs an array of technologies to directly identify and eliminate Trackback comment spam, coded in two pluglets - Trackback Link Validator and Trackback Content Validator. In addition to regular validation of reciprocal link, Trackback Link Validator pluglet also validates the authenticity of the link. Trackback Content Validator checks various aspects of contents to eliminate spam trackbacks. Both of them have been extensively tested with live data over several months to prevent any occurrence of false positives. Any comment which passes these two pluglets is then checked by other pluglets too, thereby providing very strong protection against Trackback spam. Additionally we re-check trackbacks with a configurable time-delay to eliminate attempts by spammers to trick using temporary linkbacks etc. In several months of tests not one spam trackback slipped through our trackback spam protection while not a single genuine trackback was stopped.

Pingback spam
Pingback is one of three types of Linkbacks, methods for Web authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their documents. The pingback protocol makes it harder to spam. Also WordPress verifies pingbacks automatically for reciprocal links. However pingbacks too can be abused for spamming with temporary linkbacks etc. Pingback Link Validator pluglet checks pingback against such attempts with a time-delayed check which is initiated by Recheck Comment pluglet. It can also be triggered manually.
Referrer spam

Referer spam is a kind of spamdexing (spamming aimed at search engines). The technique involves making repeated web site requests using a fake referer url that points to the site the spammer wishes to advertise. Sites that publicize their access logs, including referer statistics, will then end up linking to the spammer's site, which will in turn be indexed by the search engines as they crawl the access logs.

Referrer Blacklist pluglet provides protection against comment spam which comes with a referrer payload by allowing you to easily blacklist keywords in referrer url. For example you can blacklist comments with referrer pointing to url's containing words like casino, gambling etc. Referrer Blacklist pluglet ships with a list of common keywords, which you can add/edit/delete to your liking.

Manual spam
Sometimes (genuine) humans too spam your blogs using the comment form. They are harder to catch because often their spams are cleverly disguised to look like genuine comments. We have provided several pluglets to determine their spamminess based on multiple criteria and categorize accordingly.
Maximum protection against false positives and false negatives

Comment Guard Pro was created because all existing plugins we tested were either ineffective because of high false negatives or because of very high false positive rates. Checking the spam queue to flush out false positives is ineffective when you have very large number of comments in queue. In a popular anti-comment spam plugin we tested we literally had tens of thousands of spam in queue, imagine shifting through them for valid comments! On the other hand false negatives allow spam comments to get approved for publication on your blog, often inappropriate for general audience.

We extensively tested to fine-tune the default configuration to minimize false positives (where a comment is falsely identified as spam) as well as false negatives (where a spam is misclassified as genuine comment).

How effective are we?
In 375 days 23 hours and 29 minutes of testing (at the time of writing) we had zero false positives and zero false negatives in Simple Thought blog. We had similar success with our other blogs too.

Expert System guided Comment Spam Detection

An expert system is a software system that incorporates knowledge & concepts derived from experts in a field and uses that to provide solution to users of the software.

Comment Guard Pro incorporates several years of experience in comment spam detection, both ours and the internet community at large. Comment Spam is a moving target, so the solution also needs to be adaptable.

Expert System, also known as a knowledge based system, allows us to incorporate various good technologies for comment spam detection, each of which tackles either a specific sub-class of comment spam or checks for certain defining characteristics within a larger class. In combination they form a formidable force against all kind of comment spams. For example, Are You Human pluglet provides full protection against robotic comment spams using the comment form. However it doesn't address trackback spams, we have Trackback Link Validator pluglet as well as Trackback Content Validator pluglet to provide strong protection against trackback spam. On the other hand, Blacklist Keywords pluglet checks all types of comments looking for specific keywords which clearly indicates comment spam.

Incorporating an Expert System for comment spam detection provides us with immense versatility and adaptability in fighting a moving target (comment spam), safe detection (very low false positives and very low false negatives) of which has eluded bloggers so far. In extensive tests with Comment Guard Pro spanning over a year and processing over a million comments, we had very good results (zero false positives and zero false negatives) so far.

The Expert System also provides unprecedented flexibility & configurability in formulating your own strategy against comment spam, should you wish to do so. You decide the weight (value) and decision making ability of each rule / module. You can also incorporate your own spam detection rules within Comment Guard Pro in the form of pluglets. In short you are in full control over your comment spam fighting initiative.

Four-state Comment Classification

Traditionally most Comment Spam plugins resort to a simplistic classification of comment spam - spam or ham (genuine comment). Comment spam protection is more complex than what can be addressed with such simplistic schemes. As a result such plugins are forced to be either over-aggressive or over-defensive, mostly earlier. Additionally many (genuine) human generated comments are cleverly disguised to pass off advertisements as genuine comments by appearing to be mildly relevant. Such human generated comments often broach on a gray area of comment spam where blog authors debate on what is spam and what is not.

Comment Guard Pro uses advanced algorithms driven by expert system to uniquely classify comments in four distinct categories: Delete - Comment Guard Pro is absolutely certain that the comment is spam. As such (by default) it decides to delete them without further checks (saving processor cycles) or saving them as spam (saves database space as well as processor cycles).

Spam - Comment Guard Pro has high degree of confidence in the spamminess of comments and marks them as such, which moves them to Spam queue.

Moderate - Comment Guard Pro doesn't have enough evidence to classify the comment as either spam or ham. Very rarely comments are sent to moderation queue. As such the requirement for manual moderation is very minimal.

Approved / Ham - Comment Guard Pro has determined with a high degree of confidence that a comment is genuine and has decided to approve it.

To give an example, in Simple Thoughts blog over 1201725 (at the time of writing) comments were processed by Comment Guard Pro of which 98.21% were positively identified as spam and deleted, 1.1 % were marked as spam, 0.42 percent of the comments were approved and only 0.28 percent of the comments were marked for manual moderation.

Modular architecture

Comment Guard Pro is designed with modular architecture from ground-up. Most of Comment Guard Pro functionality is encapsulated in pluglets, each of which independently checks a comment to determine its spamminess (spam, ham or requires manual moderation). Each pluglet is individually customizable, can be independently enabled or disabled and their execution order changed from the user interface using drag-and-drop.

Comment Guard Pro ships with 15 built-in pluglets. Additionally 7 pluglets are provided for free with Comment Guard Pro Power Pack. You can also develop (distribute and sell) your own pluglets.

Open pluglet API - Write your own pluglets

Comment Guard pluglet API (open source, LGPL License) allows third-party developers like you to write your own pluglets to extend & enhance Comment Guard Pro's spam hunting capability and more. We provide the API along with detailed documentation and several examples to allow you to easily write your own pluglets.

You can provide your pluglet(s) to the community for free or you can even charge for it, we have no objection. We encourage free as well as commercial Comment Guard Pro pluglet development initiatives; your code, your choice.

Live Statistics

Comment Guard Pro provides detailed live (and entertaining) statistics on comments, which is updated every 10 seconds (configurable), from options screen. You can see how effectively Comment Guard Pro is protecting your blog from spammers.

Comprehensive Comment Management - Forget WordPress' comment management for ever

Comment Guard Pro provides comprehensive comment management facilities accessible from Manage->Comment Guard menu. You can now check the approved comments, comments marked for manual moderation as well as spam comments. Each queue is displayed in a separate tab and your choice of tab is remembered for easier access next time.

Each comment queue is displayed in multiple pages, if necessary, for easier viewing. You can search within comment text, author, e-mail, URL, IP address and reason; search results are paged.

For each comment you can:

  • Easily mark (one or more of) the IP address(es) or domain(s) (included in Author URL & Comment content) for inclusion in Blacklist Keywords pluglet. This allows you to quickly ban repeat offenders and problematic keywords.
  • Approve the comment or mark as spam or send for moderation or even delete it. The choice is context sensitive. You can also delete all comments in spam and moderation queue with a single click.
  • Find out detailed reason for the decision (spam / ham / marked for manual moderation) taken by Comment Guard Pro and scores, where appropriate.
  • View full comment details.
  • View / edit the corresponding post.
  • Edit the comment.

Comment Guard Pro allows you to manually recheck the queue at any time, in addition to automated rechecking to protect you from sophisticated bait-and-switch comment spamming techniques described in the next section (Time Delayed Comment Rechecking).

Time Delayed Comment Rechecking

Highly sophisticated comment spammers employ a bait-and-switch technique where they display tailored version of their content before spamming, so their comment passes through even the most advanced comment spam filters. However after verification, they revert back to their original page. This can defeat not only the most sophisticated comment spam filters but also humans.

Comment Guard Pro uniquely protects against such techniques with our innovative Recheck Comment pluglet. It rechecks each comment in approved queue (which hasn't been manually moderated) as well as moderation queue at least after a configurable number of hours (after posting) with a subset of rules (recheckable rules) to protect against such practices. No other comment spam filter in the market today has developed this technology.

You can also manually recheck the queue at any time from Comment Management Console.

Extensively Configurable
Comment Guard Pro is extensively configurable. You can configure every aspect of the system, individually configure each of 22 pluglets, play with the comment classification expert system and choose your own set or priorities etc., easily blacklist repeat offenders from comment management console and more, much more.
Heavily Documented
Not only have we exhaustively documented every aspect of the system and pluglets, we have documented within the option pages and management console too so you can refer to them while using them.
Easy to use - Even your grandma can use it.
Comment Guard Pro has been designed with ease of use in mind. At the very least you just activate the plugin and forget it. It will silently continue to protect your blog.
15 Comment Guard Pro Built-in Pluglets
Value Logged User
A logged-in commenter is less likely to spam. Value Logged User allows you give more value to comments from logged-in users.
Are you human?
This pluglet transparently filters out comments from spam bots or non-human automated agents which uses the comment form to submit comments. The novel technology used does not require any extra work to submit a comment for normal users. In our tests with several million comments we couldn't find a single instance where a bot could bypass Are you human? pluglet and submit spam using the comment form.
Referrer Blacklist
Comment spam is often accompanied by a spammy referrer url to show the spam sites in referrer logs. This spamming technique affects sites which display referrer statistics. It also gives us yet another way to catch spammers.
WhiteList Keywords
Whitelist allows you exclude certain comments from spam checking based on keywords in comment content, name, URL, e-mail, IP addresses or user agent. Matched comments will be directly approved. You can, for example, use this to directly approve comments from known friends by specifying their email or IP address.
Blacklist Keywords
Blacklist pluglet checks for offending keywords in comment content, name, URL, e-mail, IP addresses or user agent. Such comments will be immediately deleted. This allows you to quickly filter out comments based on keywords that will undoubtedly be spam in the context of your blog. You can also use it to block repeat offenders by their IP address, email or URL. Comment Guard Pro allows you to easily blacklist domains and IP addresses of spammers directly from the comment management console. Blacklist is a very powerful tool when used judiciously.
Devalue Bold Tags
Normally bold tags (b, strong) are used by spammers, in our experience, to highlight their targeted keywords. This pluglet slightly penalizes users for using bold tags in comment body.
DNSBL is an implementation of RBL ( Realtime Black List ) which is chiefly used to publish lists of IP addresses known for spamming, either directly or by providing open proxies or acting as zombies (after being compromised) which are operated from remote machines. DNSBL Check pluglet checks commenters IP address against known spammer IP's. We provide a very safe set of DNSBL servers to eliminate chances of false positives.
Trackback Link Validator
Trackback Link Validator ensures that the resource (post) initiating the trackback contains a link to the url it trackbacks as per specification. The checks go beyond a simple link checking which some spammers are known to subvert by disguising the links or making them ineffective. This pluglet is extremely effective against trackback spamming.
Trackback Content Validator - provides extremely strong protection against trackback spams.
TrackBack Content Validator performs various checks on the trackback request data to ensure that the data represents a genuine trackback from a blog and not a trackback spam.
Splog Spot
Splog Spot maintains a huge public database of spam blogs and spam pages. Splog Spot pluglet checks if any url in the comment body or author or author url or email field points to a known splog site. Splog Spot pluglet prevents sploggers (spam bloggers) from spamming your blog.
Phishtank(2 Pluglets)
Phishing is a fraudulent attempt (scam), usually made through email, to steal your personal information. Phishtank pluglets check whether the url's anywhere in the comment are known phishing sites. Phishtank pluglets protect your blog from being abused to spread phishing scams.
PingBack Link Validator
Pingback Link Validator pluglet, in conjunction with Recheck Comment pluglet provides advanced time-delayed recheck of pingback comments.
Value Pingback
Pingbacks are already verified by WordPress to ensure they properly provide a linkback to the original article which make it harder to spam using Pingbacks (with an glaring exception which is fully addressed by Pingback Link Validator pluglet & Recheck Comment pluget team). Hence Pingbacks are provided a positive score to reflect their higher quality in comparison to, for example, trackback comments.
Recheck Comment

Spammers sometimes use devious time-bound techniques to try to escape anti-spam filters like for example providing temporary link-backs to try to fool trackback link validator. Pluglets like Kismet (which uses Akismet API to identify spam) or DNSBL (which uses DNSBL services to identify spam) sometimes provide better judgement over time especially in cases when spammers decide to bombard large number of sites in a short period of time.

Recheck Comment pluglet provides each recheckable pluglets a second chance to correctly identify spams.

7 Comment Guard Pro Powerpack Pluglets
Approve admin And Post Author
This pluglet automatically approves comment from blog admins and post authors.
Comment link limit (2 Pluglets)
Comment spammers often embed several links in a single comment. Genuine comment rarely contains more than two links, mostly one or none in the comment body is the norm. Any comment with more than four links is most certainly a spam. You can use these pluglets to specify the maximum allowable number of links in a comment beyond which it should be sent for moderation or penalized (assigned a negative score). It also sets the limit beyond which it is considered as a spam and simply deleted. All default choices, as with other pluglets, are configurable.
Greylist keywords
Greylist Keywords pluglet allows you to mark a comment for manual moderation (as opposed to deleting it as with Blacklist) when it contains certain keywords anywhere in a comment. Greylisting is normally used for keywords which are very likely to be spam (like soma) but not always (like somatic cells). When you are not fully confident about blacklisting a keyword, you should add it in greylist. Greylist gives the comment a second chance.
Value Previously Approved Commentor
A comment author with previously approved comment is less likely to spam. Comments from such commenters are valued higher than new commenters.
Kismet pluglet incorporates Akismet plugin functionality along with lots of enhancements and flexibility. Unlike Akismet plugin, Kismet allows fine-grained control over decision making and works in conjunction with other pluglets to classify a comment. Please refer to the FAQ for details on this pluglet.
Approve Pingback/Trackback from Blogroll
This pluglet checks whether the comment author url is in your blogroll (assumed to be blogs you recommend). We only approve if there is no other URL in comment content.