I have had my blog built on WordPress, up for awhile now and I’m starting to see some traffic coming through the site. Which is good, however the downside is I’m now subject to more spam registrations on the site, which is not a good thing for my real users.

At last count I had over 1300 zombie (inactive) user accounts. These accounts were adding excess size to my database and above most of all, when I’m doing marketing activities there was the potential to be sending emails and alerts to people who are not going to engage or in the case with most zombie accounts, the emails addresses are not real or are farmed and the user doesn’t know their email address has been used to signup to my website.

Spam registrations are a problem for most WordPress sites, so I thought I would share a few tips with you on how Im combatting the registration spam.

Here we go with 3 Tips to clean up spam registrations on WordPress

Tip 1: Disable user registration

Decide when you launch your WordPress site, whether or not you want people registering on your WordPress site at all. WordPress is such a varied beast that if you are using it as a pure CMS to publish pages, you may not even want user registration.

In this instance; the first point of call is to disable user registration.

Admin > Settings > General and uncheck Anyone can register

As it is a checkbox, if later down the track you add a blog, shopping cart or any functionality which requires users to register, you simply enable the setting.

For comments, I go an extra step further and in Admin > Settings > Discussion. I enable the checkbox Users must be registered and logged in to comment

Tip 2: Stop Spammers with a registration blocker

Find yourself a good spam registration blocker. Im currently using Stop Spammers and at this stage Im pretty happy with the results, I will follow up with a separate blog post after I have had it running for a bit longer to let you know the results. If you have experience with another spam blocker, please post a comment below and let me know about it. I have run with the out-of-the box configuration, there are quite a few configuration items though I felt as I’m learning the plugin, I will use the default set and then fine tune afterwards.

Tip 3: Clean up zombie users (inactive ones)

This is more a remediation step rather then a blocker. Clean Up Zombie Users, this plugin will delete any user who has never had a post or comment approved. If you have been running your site for more than a few weeks you can pretty much bet that 95% of all site registrations typically come from spammers. The normal behaviour is when they can’t get a comment approved, they just sit in the database, clogging up your world. These users are of no value to you, so lets get rid of them.

Really simple plugin, simply install to your site and access via Settings > Clean up, select 3 options. You can be selective here and choose your user type, whether they have either no posts or no comments (or both).

Included Features:

  • Target specific user roles for deletion based on whether they have ever posted or commented
  • Includes a test mode to see what the results will be
  • Includes the ability to delete users in chunks, for large sites.

Features which are currently in development and I for one are waiting for: 

An [x] indicates this is done in the development version

  • [ ] Allow newer users to be excluded
  • [ ] Build in logic for all major e-commerce plugins so that paying customers can’t be pruned
  • [ ] Boolean values don’t really need to be sanitized, but we’re going to do it anyway
  • [ ] Save selections as session data between submit & results
  • [x] Trim ” | User Role” from the end of role listings on older WP sites.
  • [ ] Need to make the entire introductory message change after a post
  • [ ] Need to put the deleted users list into a scrolling DIV
  • [ ] Investigate AJAX updates as the plugin works
  • [ ] Investigate the ability to protect users without changing their roles
  • [ ] Investigate the ability to line-item delete users, or remove them from the operation

I hope these tips helped you out, if you have any more ideas, tips please let me know in the comments.

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