Adding WordPress Profanity Filters: A Step-by-Step Guide

Spam and profanity can be a major issue for WordPress site owners. Not only can offensive language drive away readers, but it can also harm your brand image and negatively impact your SEO. In this article, we will discuss the importance of managing profanity on your WordPress site and provide three effective ways to do so.

Why is Profanity a Problem?

Profanity can have several negative effects on your website:

1. Offending or Scaring Away Readers: Visitors to your site may be put off or offended by the use of profanity. This can result in a decrease in returning visitors and ultimately harm your site’s traffic and engagement.

2. Tarnishing Brand Image: Excessive use of adult or offensive language can damage your brand’s reputation. Potential partners or companies may think twice about collaborating with you if your website is overly profane.

3. Hurting SEO: When readers find your content untrustworthy or offensive, they are less likely to engage with it. This can lead to a decrease in search engine rankings and organic traffic.

Understanding Your Website’s Context

It’s important to note that the acceptability of profanity can vary depending on the type of website or community you run. For example, what may be considered offensive on a couponing forum might be perfectly normal on a website about breeding dogs. Additionally, websites targeting adults may have more leniency in filtering out certain words compared to websites targeting a younger audience. Therefore, it’s essential to use your discretion when defining what is considered profanity and what level of filtering is appropriate for your site.

Three Ways to Manage Profanity on Your WordPress Site

1. Enable Built-in WordPress Comment Filters

WordPress provides a built-in feature that allows you to add a list of banned words to your site’s comment section. By navigating to Settings > Discussion and scrolling to the Disallowed Comment Keys section, you can add specific words that will trigger immediate deletion or moderation of comments.

Pros: This option is completely free and allows you to have control over which words are moderated or deleted.

Cons: Adding every “bad” word can be labor-intensive, and it’s possible that some words may be missed. Additionally, the moderation filter may block specified words even when they are part of other non-offensive words.

2. Use Akismet to Stop Spam and Profanity

Akismet is a popular anti-spam plugin that also includes a list of prohibited words. In addition to preventing spam, Akismet’s complex filtering engine can help eliminate profanity from your site.

Pros: Akismet is free for personal websites and comes with a regularly updated list of banned words. It also offers machine learning capabilities to improve accuracy over time.

Cons: For commercial sites, there are paid plans starting at around $100 per year. Editing the block list may not be possible, but you can manually un-mark comments mistakenly placed in the spam folder.

3. Install a Search & Replace Plugin

Another option is to use a search and replace plugin like CM WordPress Search and Replace. This plugin allows you to create rules for replacing profane words, phrases, or even HTML across your entire WordPress site.

Pros: With CM WordPress Search and Replace, you have full customization options for profanity replacement. You can also enable a setting to make filtered replacements permanent by committing edits to your database.

Cons: The free version of this plugin may not be sufficient for most sites as it only searches within posts and pages. Creating a comprehensive list of blocked words can be time-consuming.

4. Use the WebPurify Profanity Filter

For more comprehensive profanity filtering, you can consider investing in a dedicated profanity filter like WebPurify. This plugin offers extensive profanity filtering in multiple languages and can even sort through images and videos.

Pros: WebPurify provides comprehensive profanity filtering options and offers custom block/allow lists via their API or admin area. It also offers real-time statistics to track its effectiveness.

Cons: WebPurify is a premium service, starting at $5 per month for word and phrase moderation for one site. The free version of the plugin hasn’t been updated in two years.


Managing profanity on your WordPress site is crucial for maintaining a positive user experience, protecting your brand image, and preserving your SEO efforts. By utilizing built-in WordPress comment filters, using plugins like Akismet or CM WordPress Search and Replace, or investing in a dedicated profanity filter like WebPurify, you can effectively control and filter out offensive language. Remember to consider the context of your website and use your discretion when defining what is considered profanity and an acceptable level for your site.

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