After you’ve blogged for awhile, you realize there’s more to blogging than just writing.

There’s behind the scenes maintenance; a task some of us would rather forget about.

Today’s Lesson

Over the past few weeks, I learned two great lessons.

  1. If my blogs load slow, chances are, I haven’t done my homework.
  2. If I don’t empty out my spam folder, I may be in violation of the terms of service for my web host.

When I first noticed my blogs were loading slow, I blamed it on my old computer. Then I thought it was Firefox. But after I tested my blog speed on WebSiteOptimization.com and YSlow (a Firefox addon), I found

  1. I had too many images on my home page.
  2. I had images which were not compressed.
  3. I wasn’t utilizing my caching plugin to it’s fullest potential

To correct the above problems,

  1. I removed a few of the images from my home page.
  2. I installed the “Smush It” plugin – which compresses photos.
  3. I chose more options for the WP Super Cache plugin.
  4. I also made a note to myself: when I make changes to my blogs, test the blog page loading time.

With regard to my second problem, my web host (BlueHost) sent me an email stating my account had been deactivated. They requested a call from me to discuss the problem(s). When I called them, they stated I had “inappropriate” content in my spam comments folder and I was in violation of their terms of service, which reads, in part:

Prohibited Offerings. No Subscriber may utilize the Services to provide, sell or offer to sell the following: controlled substances; illegal drugs and drug contraband; weapons; pirated materials; instructions on making, assembling or obtaining illegal goods or weapons to attack others; information used to violate the copyright(s) of, violate the trademark(s) of or to destroy others’ intellectual property or information; information used to illegally harm any people or animals; pornography, nudity, sexual products, programs or services; escort services or other content deemed adult related.

Profanity. Profanity or profane subject matter in the site content and in the domain name are prohibited.

Because I wasn’t able to access the back side of my blog (dashboard), the technician (patiently) gave me instructions on how to delete the spam comments via my cPanel. When I was done, I was instructed to call them back, which I did and they immediately reactivated my blogs.

This problem taught me two lessons:

  1. Read the terms of service for your webhost
  2. Empty your spam folder(s) on a regular basis

In order to avoid having the same problem in the future, I

  1. Installed the G.A.S.P. plugin which verifies those who comment are not spammers or spambots, thus reducing spam.
  2. Delete any spam comments which do come through.

As much as we’d rather spend our blogging time writing or commenting, in order for our blogs to run smoothly, regular maintenance needs to be performed, too.

What say you?

Today’s Assignment

How often do you do maintenance to your blog(s)?

When’s the last time you tested your blog’s loading time?

Care to share?

signature for blog post

P.S. All of my blogs have been hosted with BlueHost* since March 2007. The problem I had resulted from me not reading their terms of service and not deleting the inappropriate spam comments.

*Affiliate link

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    Wait, so it’s an issue even when they are in the spam folder and are not even visible to the user? That means you’ll have to empty the spam folder regularly then.

    At least for me, tinkering is a little bit of geeky fun for me as a computer programmer. But as a programmer that doesn’t specialize in this area, I probably don’t notice the problems unless they are blatantly obvious…
    Check out Kelvin Kao’s awesome post.How to Bark at a DogMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Kelvin,

      That surprised me too – that spam comments could create a problem. The only thing I can think of is – if they’re sitting in the spam folder, they could still be approved and allowed on the blog.

  2. BradNo Gravatar says:

    I see so many blogs poorly maintained, is a shame.
    Check out Brad’s awesome post.How Siri Has Revolutionized iPhone and Mobile ComputingMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Brad,

      I hear you. As we travel through the blogosphere, we can find numerous blogs which need attention.

      • allenNo Gravatar says:

        is using smushit and wp cache is enough for for increase the blog speed or we can do anything else too please suggest me on that

        • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

          Hi Allen,

          Smush It and WP Caching does help, however if you test your blog speed, most of the speed testing services will pinpoint other areas of your blog which may be slowing down the load time, as well.

  3. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I think deactivating your account due to the content in your spam folder is kind of bogus. Material in your spam folder is not site content.

    Bluehost has deactivated my account a couple of times for database issues and the help center tech has been very patient each time.

    I delete spam folder contents on a fairly regular basis. I haven’t checked load speed in a while.
    Check out Mike Goad’s awesome post.Awesome volcano images in remote area of Congo.My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Mike,

      I agree. The spam comments are not site content, but I’m guessing they have rules to follow and my blogs are grouped with all of the others. What I wished they would have done is send me a warning email so I could have deleted the comments from the dashboard instead of having to delete them via the cPanel, which was time consuming and nerve racking.

  4. I do not appear to have received any spam yet – which seems to me can be a “glass is half-empty” or “glass is half-full” kind of situation!

    Thanks Barb!
    Check out David K Waltz’s awesome post.Anchors Away!My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome David,

      Be glad you’re not getting spam comments. I know I probably get more because I write posts about spam.

      That said, I am pleased with the GASP plugin. Now my spam comments are down to just a few a day. Yay!

  5. suzenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barb! I clear out spam a lot, beyond that I seem to be ok. There may be times when ignorance is bliss – for me this may be one of those times, haha. My son said he’d “clean” my computer on Thanksgiving for me. I guess after so many years of nagging him to do stuff around the house (when he lived here) he has finally volunteered to take out the virtual trash! :)
    Have a lovely Thanksgiving -
    SuZen
    Check out suzen’s awesome post.Apples – Weight Loss, Fiber & Nutrient-Rich Gems!My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you SuZen,

      That’s smart of you – to empty the spam folder on a regular basis. I know in the past I didn’t pay too much attention to that part of blog maintenance, but apparently it’s more important than I imagined.

      How sweet of your son; to clean out your virtual trash. :)

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  6. Jo WakeNo Gravatar says:

    I use Blogger and don’t seem to have such problems.
    Check out Jo Wake’s awesome post.Eat to Live, Postage, Cream, Europe and Pigtails.My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jo,

      That’s good to know with Blogger you don’t have the same problems. One less thing on your blogging maintenance list. How nice is that?

  7. HeatherNo Gravatar says:

    I use good old tan-tan noodle to reduce and elimnate spam. Works pretty good, but yes, you do have to occasionally get in there and remove it. I think, though, you can define a cronjob to do automatically every week or so.
    Check out Heather’s awesome post.Find Real Paid SurveysMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Heather,

      I never thought of that, but I’ll bet you’re right. We could probably define a cronjob and have our spam folders emptied automatically.

  8. I’m going to test loading time right now!
    Check out Vered | Blogger for Hire’s awesome post.I Don’t Have Grandparents AnymoreMy Profile

  9. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I know I have a lot of maintenance to do.

    I’m still thinking through the overall structure of my site. I want the shape right, with a healthy trunk, leaves, and branches. I’ve been learning tough lessons in terms of choices between pages vs. posts, and permalink structures, etc.

    Meanwhile, I do have a lot of basics I can do, as you point out, especially compressing photos and better caching.

    A blog is definitely a living thing, not a “fire-and-forget” static kind of a deal.
    Check out J.D. Meier’s awesome post.Whiteboard Notes on HappinessMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi J.D.,

      You’re right. A blog is a living thing with needs our attention.

      I like your idea of thinking through the blog/blogging process. It’s so easy to set up a blog, but if we make mistakes in the beginning, it’s tougher to correct some of them later on. I think if we envision our blog growing over the years and foresee future requirements/potential problems, it’s best to deal with those straight away instead of waiting until those situations require a major overhaul of our blog(s).

  10. maddieNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara!

    I’m going to install that GASP program! I get 400-500 spam a day. It’s a real pain going through them. It’s a nightly chore!

    I admit that I really don’t pay that much attention to the maintenance of my blog. There’s a lot I should be doing like fixing pages, working on the site design, etc. but, I just haven’t got around to doing them. (I might be a little lazy.) I do the updates and stuff that’s easy but have been bad at the rest. *sigh*

    There should be a Brownie badge for procrastinators.
    Check out maddie’s awesome post.just a quick updateMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Maddie,

      I think you’ll like the GASP plugin. It makes sorting through the spam much easier/less time consuming.

      With your moving coming up and you having your hands full with your little ones, I can understand why the maintenance of your blog is low on your list of priorities. First things first, hey? :)

  11. Dave McArthyNo Gravatar says:

    It’s interesting to see that SPAM comments can get you in trouble with your host? Really?

    I’ve never experienced that at all. Time to go check out my TOS.
    Check out Dave McArthy’s awesome post.Winter Snow Tires vs. All-Season TiresMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Dave,

      I was surprised, too. Especially since I’ve had thousands of “inappropriate” comments in years past and my host never said anything. I’m guessing it may be because my comment folder is now showing over twenty thousand comments and the size of the comment folder may have been a red flag to them.

  12. With WordPress, I may get 6 to 9 spams a week. I get rid of them right away. I know WPress screens carefully as well. The spam I have has been generally put there by WP as “suspected spam”.

    Does this mean my blog is so under or non-controversial that it doesn’t hit spammers screens? I don’t know whether to be happy or sad about that! :D No…I’m very glad.
    Check out Amy@souldipper’s awesome post.Mind Over MatterMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Amy,

      Be glad! :)

      I think one of the reasons I get so many spam comments on this blog is because I write posts about them. Plus, my blog is “do follow”and is included on a lot of “do follow blogs” lists, so they might assume they’ll get a free back link if I approve their comment(s).

  13. BarryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,
    I was somewhat of a blog virgin when I started on Money Matters, and had a couple of things in place, but by going around more established blogs, ( I hesitate from saying older :) ), I learned more than a host of courses could have taught me.

    Now, I still get spam, but the majority is caught at the point of entry by GASP.

    For somebody wanting to get involved in, and having an interactive blog, GASP and Commentluv have to be two of the top plug ins.

    I think that regarding how fast or slow a site loads up, one always has to remember that many people don’t have the latest hi-tech pc’s or laptops, and so we have to cater for them too, for each visitor is a potential JV,

    Barry
    Check out Barry’s awesome post.WordPress Dashboard Not Working?My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Barry,

      That’s true. We need to remember many of our readers may not have the latest, greatest and fastest computers. By not considering them, we could lose out on a lot of readers.

      I’m with you. CommentLuv is an awesome plugin, and I’m finding GASP is too. Great combo!

  14. satrapNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    One of the things I learned about speeding up my blog was using less plugins. If I can code something, I do it instead of installing a plugin, but since I am not a coder, for some things I have to install plugins. But I always try to keep them to a minimum.
    Check out satrap’s awesome post.Get Paid for PhotosMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Satrap,

      I like your idea of using coding instead of plugins. That can not only help speed up our blogs, but if we’re willing to learn, can teach us a little bit of coding, too.

  15. Chris NewaldNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Sounds like BlueHost watches the content on their servers by crawling through the physical files in your account. It’s fair practice although error prone (as proven here). Your spam folder isn’t online content so you technically weren’t in breach of contract. Hosting providers of course reserve the right to disable any site they’re hosting, however proper business etiquette involves reviewing a case, contacting the customer and dealing with the issue prior to disabling a site – especially if the site is well established as as in your case. Silly things like that really frustrate me.
    Check out Chris Newald’s awesome post.Is your Online Business Becoming Stagnant?My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Chris,

      I agree. Proper business etiquette wasn’t used in this case.

      Due to the fact I’ve been pleased with the service I get from BlueHost, I gave them the benefit of the doubt, however a warning email would have saved me a lot of time.

  16. NEWS TO ME!

    I use Bluehost and have a ton of comments I just never approved or messed with. All from bots no doubt.

    Going to try that G.A.S.P out.

    Thank you so much for the info!
    Check out Volkswagen Van’s awesome post.VOLKSWAGEN CAMPER VANMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Volkswagen Van,

      I think you’ll like the GASP plugin. Thus far I’m only getting a few spam comments a day, compared to hundreds.

  17. Jay GumbsNo Gravatar says:

    Wait. I had no idea that was a problem. How would they know if it’s isn’t visible to anyone but you?

    Luckily, I hate looking at my dashboard and seeing that I have spam comments so I always use the two clicks it takes to empty the spam folder. I might have to try GASP because Akismet doesn’t seem to be doing a good job these days.
    Check out Jay Gumbs’s awesome post.Wealthy Affiliate Black Friday/Cyber Monday DealMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jay,

      I believe our web host has the ability to see what’s going on behind the scenes, in our databases, and I’m sure they check from time to time.

      Even though the comments were in my spam folder, until they’re permanently deleted, there’s still the possibility they could be approved. I’m guessing that’s where the problem lies. All the more reason to keep our spam folders empty.

  18. Barbara,

    I gave you a note of thanks on my Thanksgiving blog post. This is a great community, thanks everybody!
    Check out david k waltz’s awesome post.A Blogful of ThanksMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you for your kind words David,

      I enjoy your blog and wish you all the best on your blogging journey.

  19. HilaryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara .. I couldn’t load this earlier in the week – but now can – so First – Happy Thanksgiving .. hope you had a lovely time with family and friends ..

    I’ve kept my blog very simple .. and presume it’s ok – despite all the photos I include in each post … I definitely want to revamp the blog – but will keep it as simple as I can …

    It’s just good to know you’re here – where I can search for things if and when I need to.

    Cheers – have a glorious family/friends weekend .. cheers Hilary

    http://www.positiveletters.com

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Hilary,

      Yes. You know where to find me if you ever have a blogging problem or question. I love when I can help – especially if I have the answer and it makes you life easier.

      Cheers to you and yours, too. :)

  20. AdelineNo Gravatar says:

    I usually schedule a maintenance check on my blog once a week (twice if I’ve posted quite a lot). Thankfully, I haven’t gotten that much spam comments since I installed the CommentLuv Premium since it’s already got the GASP plug-in incorporated in it.

    Since my blog can get quite heavy on images, so instead of uploading the files on my blog, I host them on Flickr and incorporate it into my blog by just including the URL.

    Aside from a caching plugin, I also use the WP Optimize plugin to help further optimize my blog. Apparently, it’s not only spam comments that we need to worry about. Post revisions and drafts can also take huge amounts of space that can cause your blog to slow down. The first time I ran it, it freed nearly 11MB of space.
    Check out Adeline’s awesome post.Survive the Holiday Season: 7 Easy Money Saving TipsMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Adeline,

      That’s smart on your part to schedule maintenance on a regular basis.

      I also like your idea of hosting your images elsewhere. That can help speed up our blogs, plus like you mentioned, post revisions and drafts (something I yet need to address).

  21. NileNo Gravatar says:

    Bluehost is one of those hosts I never recommend for WordPress users. For their strange customer service handling, shutting people off for storing backups, and for data resource overusage. I help transfer more of my design clients from them and HostMonster even more so than GoDaddy.

    Most people do forget about reading all the fine print for a web host’s usage policy. Another big thing people do not realize is your data resource usage or not keeping your scripts up to date.

    It really is a learning process when you have a site, and even a blog too.
    Check out Nile’s awesome post.The Importance of a Contact FormMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Nile,

      I’ve heard other bloggers say they don’t like BlueHost, but in the nearly five years I’ve been with them, this is the first time they deactivated my blogs.

      You’re right. Most of us do not read the fine print. I know for me, this has been a great lesson learned.

  22. sabaNo Gravatar says:

    I use a small company for my hosting and all other stuff that I need. They also have some tricky fine print but at least they are not overseas, and they are really really good at answering their phones, so rescue s only a phone call away.
    but I love learning from more established blogs such as your thank you for sharing. off to check my spam folder and loading time :)

    Cheers
    Saba

  23. Hey Barbara,

    Great post! Maintenance is definitely a big part of blogging that many people take for granted.

    I wasn’t aware of the spam folder issue. I use Host Gator and have never had that problem. I occasionally clean out my spam comments on my sites, but not all that often.

    You mentioned the GASP plugin and that’s the one I use on my blogs and LOVE it. It’s the best plugin I’ve found for stopping comment spam.

    Load speed is also very important. Google loves fast loading pages and so do people. I use WP Total Cache. A great place to check your site speed and get suggestions for improving it is GTmetrix.com.
    Check out Derek Blandford’s awesome post.What Is The Best Fatty Liver Diet For People With Fatty Liver Disease?My Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Derek,

      I’m with you. Maintenance is one of those blogging chores we’d rather forget.

      I haven’t heard about GTmetrix.com but will definitely check it out. Now that I realize how important our page load time is, I plan to check mine more often.

  24. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    You’re welcome Saba,

    Like you, I enjoy being able to pick up the phone and call my web host. I also like when I can talk to a real person and don’t get caught up in some type of loop and feeling like I’m getting the run around.

    Good luck with testing your blog. I hope it passes with flying colors. :)

  25. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    I know what you mean. I myself try to blog without trying to sound like a spammer. My niche is in the gambling area and posts and even comments can make people automatically think I am spamming when I am genuinely not.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jason,

      Good point. Seeing URLs from gaming sites can appear spammy, so I’m guessing for you, it’s important your comment holds value so it doesn’t get deleted. :)

  26. RichardNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara! Yes it’s our responsibility to maintain our page from spam comments. But deleting them one by one? It takes a lot of time. Why don’t you check and try the Host Gator? Maybe it will help. Good luck! I hope you won’t delete my comment.. lol
    Check out Richard’s awesome post.My Arowana Is Not Eating No Matter What I Do !!!My Profile

  27. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    LOL Richard,

    Yes, it was a pain having to delete comments one by one, but because I’ve been so happy with BlueHost and their customer service, I did what I had to do. Since then, all appears fine. :)

  28. ErichNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, you just gave me one very good reason not to subscribe to Bluehost. *grin*
    Check out Erich’s awesome post.Top 5 Tips for Squeezing More Power Out of Your Amazon Kindle FireMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Erich,

      That’s one good thing about writing about the service we receive from others; our readers can see all sides and then make an educated decision. :)

      • ErichNo Gravatar says:

        Barbara, the problem that newbies have, though, when shopping for a good Web host is that there is an overwhelming amount of conflicting stories on the Net about each service provider. So, one blog gripes about GoDaddy, but another heaps praise for it. One blog whines about InMotion, but another writes a glowing review about it. It can be such a headache, truly. But, you’re right–those reviews help people make educated decisions (which, in this particular usage, I take to mean as “which hosting service is perceived as the less risky.”).
        Check out Erich’s awesome post.ARCHOS G9 Android Tablets to Embrace Ice Cream Sandwich in Early 2012My Profile

        • Hi Erich, I totally agree about the difference in reviews regarding a single product/service provider. It simply means that while one might work for you but it’s not what another person needs & it’s great that people actually take the time to add a review so others can make an informed decision.
          Check out Bertha@marriage counselling’s awesome post.Counsellors PerthMy Profile

          • ErichNo Gravatar says:

            Bertha, what makes things worse is that there are those who “repurpose” content (i.e., review articles). The Web allows it. People take advantage of it (in order to earn money). It’s a sad reality. If I were the chief of the education department, one of my immediate proposals would be to include in the curriculum a portion that will train students to be critical about the media they consume off the Web, as well as to distinguish between a blog/site with real credibility. PageRank doesn’t mean anything as far as real authority and credibility go. At least, not anymore. Ranking on the search engine result pages don’t mean automatic credibility either. At least, not anymore. We have to start arming the younger generation with critical thinking skills, and skills for critical consumption of online media.
            Check out Erich’s awesome post.GALAXY Nexus Finally Arrives on VerizonMy Profile

  29. piyushNo Gravatar says:

    yes speed is a big factor in blogging, more fast you are better blog you have and also spam comments cause a big problem for any blog and deleting them one by one is another so its better to use some tools for that
    Check out piyush’s awesome post.HP WebOS is now open souce, a new life for itMy Profile

  30. I think preferable its better to install the plugin to save from the spamming comments. As far as porn comments links are concerned, you need to remove them regularly and remove the auto approve comment system.

  31. Rick BNo Gravatar says:

    I just started my blog a month ago with Blue Host and like most people I am sure never really read the terms of service.

    The few comments I have received of course have all been Spam and that is how I marked them . Thanks for the heads up as I will now go back and make sure I empty the folder on a regular basis

  32. Hmm..as far as image compression goes, I tend to manage that as I create images. That said, sites should always be updating and evolving.
    Check out freddy finallyfast.com’s awesome post.AFA Congratulates Advancing Teams in CyberPatriot CompetitionMy Profile

  33. Andre SuchNo Gravatar says:

    Taking responsability it is important in all areas off your life. If something is wrong in your life, job, home and so on, you must know you should do something in a diferent way to transfort that in something better!

  34. I was not aware that if there are too many many spam content stored within blog your hosting account can get suspended. Are you sure about its correctness? If so I have to take care about this in future.

  35. Nice sharing.Thanks for sharing.