Remember that old line from Julius Caesar: “I come here not to bury Caesar but to praise him.” Well, I come here to bury certain unwanted blog visitors and to praise Angsuman’s remarkable Referrer Bouncer plugin
Angsuman’s original goal in writing this plugin was to defend against spammers’ referring domains by blacklisting them in a simple, easy way. You don’t have to deal with arcane mod_rewrites of .htaccess files. But I think I’ve found an additional use perhaps he didn’t anticipate.
Here’s the problem I sometimes face. At various times, online forums or websites have linked to my posts sending my way anti-Semites or those opposed to Jewish ritual circumcision (those are just a few). Along with all that site traffic comes the inevitable nasty, insulting and abusive comments. Whenever this happened (until now), I had to sit and monitor my comments section and delete offensive ones as they were published. It required lots of tedious activity on my part.
[Many may be wondering why I don’t make better use of my WP comment moderation settings. All I can say is that I use SpamKarma2, a great anti-spam plugin. But one of its less desirable attributes is that it ignores most WP comment settings including some that would give me greater protection in these instances.]
I longed for an automated way to stop such commenters. There certainly are many ways to approach this: mod_rewrite rules, php scripts, etc. But for various reasons, nothing that I tried really worked. I posted in various forums and got suggestions (along with some heavy dissing) but none were precisely what I wanted. Until, that is, I posted at the HostDime.com forum where Dawzz took pity on me. First, he wrote a script for me. But it didn’t seem to work right (perhaps my fault in installing it). Then after doing more research he suggested Angsuman’s Referrer Bouncer plugin.
I installed it and configured it creating the referers.txt file it asks. I added the names of two domains in the past whose visitors have left trash comments. Then I went to those sites, found the links to my blog and clicked on them. I was immediately bounced right back to the original site and never got to mine.
A WordPress forum member has essentially dismissed this tool’s usefulness by saying that it is only too easy to work around for a dedicated troublemaker. But he misses the point that while you sometimes have energetic blog stalkers or trolls who know technical ways to defeat such defenses, just as often you have somebody who wants to do things the easy way. If he (or she) has to work a little harder to make mischief that’s just fine by me.
One note on installing this plugin: be sure your wp-content folder is set to at least 755, if not 777. If it isn’t, you may get some strange hang behavior when you try to access your blog’s internal or external interface.