How I Disabled Registrations And Deleted Spam Subscribers in WordPress
Today, I logged into a Zombie site to do a re-haul and while importing some pages I was asked which one of the 459 subscribers, that I knew nothing about, I wanted to attribute authorship to. Well, none of course and by the way, where the did these subscribers come from since I don’t have an invitation anywhere on the site!
This could only mean one thing. SPAM!!!
I spent sometime scrolling through the endless list of subscribers; secretly hoping my site had somehow went viral without my knowing it, but knowing deep down inside that that probably wasn’t the case. With names like Michael458659 and similar emails, I quickly deduced the viral notion from the list of possibilities.
Well, the next step was to stop the source of the problem. After watching a quick tutorial, I knew exactly what to do to eliminate any additional subscribers from coming in then I spent a few minutes removing the 459 spam accounts 25 at a time. Watch the video to learn how to do it for yourself.
Why Would Anyone Create A Spam Subscriber Account?
My days of spamming ended back in the mid-nineties when I got kicked off of AOL; after purchasing a bulk email client and sent out a blast from a bunch of emails I purchased from the same company. So, I’m not too savvy as to how spamming is done today. Not that I was back then either.
My first thought, based solely on my experience of how spammers generally operate, is that they intended to post spam comments. Maybe they already have. I guess should probably check my moderation queue.
The Results After Checking My WordPress Comment Moderation Queue
I checked my moderation queue; only to see one comment pending. This raises some questions.
Why were these accounts created?
Where else could they have possibly have spammed my site.
Should I be concerned about more devious intentions for these accounts?
How I Fixed WordPress Not Showing the Latest Versions of WP, Plugins, and My Theme
Have you ever experienced WordPress, plugins, and themes all not showing updates for the latest version? If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a version update notice in your dashboard for all of the above, you might want to take a peak under the hood to make sure your site is not broken.
I logged into a clients website to swap out Contact Form 7 with my new toy, Forminator. After installing the plugin, I went directly to the Forminator menu and attempted to import a lead form. Instead of the page loading like normal, I got the white screen of death. My brain began processing my list of possibilities:
Possible Problems When A Plugin Doesn’t Work
The Steps I Took To Fix My WordPress Updater Issue
I start by deactivating Contact Form 7. When that didn’t work, I checked to see if there were any plugins that needed updating in case an obsolete plugin was the source of the problem. All plugins were up-to-date. This raised my eyebrows a bit because it’s rare and highly unlikely that the client updated the plugin on his own. But for the moment, I presume that to be the case, while I complete my other checks.
Next, I went to the Themes menu to check for an update. No update alerts were present. I had just updated my Phlox theme on another site, and the version number was different enough that I was able to spot the discrepancy almost immediately. At this point, I’m starting to grow suspicious, but I knew that theme had some changes with the naming, so I held off investigating that further; until I completed my final checklist item.
Finally, I went to the WordPress dashboard menu where I checked for an update. There were none. Okay, now I KNEW something was not right. The chances of WordPress, numerous plugins, and the theme all being up-to-date, after nearly a year, by a client who just hired me to swap out a contact form plugin wasn’t adding up. The known theme version discrepancy was all I had to go on, so I did what we all do when we have a problem with a themes and plugins that don’t work, I deactivated everything, with the plan of reactivating everything one by one.
Watch the video to find out how that worked out for me…
After The Fact: Looking Back On My WordPress Problem
The problem I experienced was especially problematic in that there was no way to detect it early on. When something breaks, usually something something visibly stops working to let you know about it. However, in this case, none of the existing plugins stopped working, so I did not detect the problem until I went to add a new plugin to the site that did not work as a result of the break down.
Who knows how long the site had been out of wack before that and what damage could have been done had I not discovered and fixed the problem when I did. We all know how out of date themes and plugins can cause havoc in the area of security, but we rarely think about it from the point of breakdowns; which as I learned, may not be visible on the surface.
Now, I’m going to take the time to tell you the obvious. The best way to prevent WordPress disasters of this nature from happening is to keep WordPress, plugins, and themes updated to the latest version. Then all you’ll have to worry about are the problems that happen as a result of an update. Wait…what!
Yes, your site can break by doing exactly what I just told you to do. But it’s necessary to avoid security and more serious breakdowns that will be much harder to fix. It is possible to setup your site to have automatic updates, but I prefer to do it manually, so that I am aware of any problems that emerge as a result of an update.
And when it does…
To be continued when it actually happens; giving me a problem to solve and a solution to share with you!
If you’ve ever installed a plugin and afterwards experience a site break down, you know how petrifying that can be for a first-timer. Thankfully, I had enough experience when that happened to me today. Watch the video to see how I took care of the problem with no real damage other than the lost time I spent configuring the plugin.
I wanted to simplify the dashboard for my client, so as not to overwhelm them with unnecessary menu items. I installed the plugin that allows me to do this. I set the configuration to show this modified dashboard menu for the editor role only; but when I tried to switched back to admin view from editor view, there was no change to the menu.
I thought to myself, maybe I didn’t click back to admin view like I thought I had. So, I clicked on admin view again. Still no change. Still feeling hopeful, I thought well let me try to log off and back in again. I did. Nothing.
By this point, I’m starting face the hard truth that I was probably going to have to open up Filezilla, try to remember the damn FTP login, and delete this dang plugin from the server; along with all that time I spent configuring it.
In the end, that’s exactly what I did, and it worked like a charm. I ended up finding a different plugin to filter my editor dashboard menu, so it all worked out in the end. If you need any help with your WordPress site, submit a request for a project quote.
If you’re wondering why I spelled danger the way I did in my thumbnail image, here’s a totally irrelevant, but fun video to help you understand.