If you run a WordPress site with user registrations, you know how big headache the spam users are. Sometimes humans, sometimes bots, they will register using fake information and cause all sort of havoc on your site.
All this is not worth your time. You are a hard working site owner and your time is simply not worth this chasing game.
One of the best solutions is to put a WordPress plugin to work for you. I wrote a post about Stopping Spam User Registrations and Getting Rid of Already Registered Spam Users a couple of months back.
However, I did not test those plugins very well then at that time. So I decided to try different plugins that claim to stop WordPress spam user registrations.
I will try out one plugin every week and post about it here on the blog. I’m starting with the impressive Wang Guard.
Wang Guard is available for free on WordPress Plugin Directory. However, it requires an API key to use. You can use the plugin for free if you own a non-commercial site or a site that earns less than $200 per month.
The installation is simple and you can install it directly from WordPress Dashboard like any other plugin. After installing, plugin will ask you for an API key.
The process of getting the key requires more information I expected. Maybe Akismet and Jetpack have spoiled me. For Wang Guard, You need to fill this form:
After filling the form, you get verification mail. Once your email address is verified, you will get the API key. Go to your dashboard, fill in the API key and you are ready to use the plugin.
Configuring WangGuard takes less than 5 minutes. The options are well thought out and defaults are good for normal blogs.
Here are the options you should go through:
Security Questions on Signup
This is a useful feature that is handy to stop spam users from registering in first place. You can add custom security questions. One random question out of these will be asked when a user tries to sign up for the site.
Personally, I like this approach over captchas because bots are getting sophisticated day by day and have either bypassing or cracking mechanisms to get around captchas.
With customizable questions, you can easily tailor questions according to your target audience. These will be hard for bots and easy for humans.
Here’s a screenshot of a security question:
Warning: Make sure to test this feature. Try not to use it with another plugin. I activated WangGuard on test site with Stop Spam Registrations plugin and that blocked the registrations.
WangGuard would accept signup but Stop Spam Registrations would ask me for a captcha. I enter the captcha, it would send me to WangGuard for verification (again!) and after verification, Stop Spam Registrations would ask me for captcha again.
There is not much to configure in the settings, just 8 checkboxes. This is a fresh relief from security plugins which have levels upon levels of options.
The options are self explanatory. A handy option to remove Meta generator tag is present and so is Ninja Mode. Ninja Mode allows you to save work by automatically deleting users when you report them as spammer.
Blocked Domains tab contains a big list of sites that are generally used by bots and spammers. Some of these include temporary mail sites like Yopmail.
Even without checking these, the plugin protects you from users entering this information. I tried registering using several temporary mail sites and none worked.
Annoyances and Problems
There were a few annoyances that I had with the plugin.
First, it does not follow the standard WordPress methodology of adding itself to Settings/Tools/Plugins menu. I spent some 10 seconds before finding that the menu was in admin bar! While this is not a big annoyance, it will surely take some time for first time users.
Reviews from Spammers/Sbloggers
This is a small easter egg that plugin authors have hidden in their WordPress Directory page. In “other notes”, you have some reviews from spammers/sbloggers. Take a look for yourself:
In case you’re wandering, the first one translates to “Anyone know how can we protect the ban by the service WangGuard”.
I’d recommend Wang Guard as it is a good defense from spam users and will save you a lot of headache in long run. Download from WordPress Plugin Directory.
The prices are reasonable and worth saved time.