Here is a quick post with steps to verify that Blackhole Pro is working properly. The test is split into two parts: Part 1 tests if the plugin is correctly blocking bad bots, and Part 2 tests if the plugin is correctly removing bad bots from the Bad Bots Log (like when you want to restore access for some bot). Estimated time to complete, depending on how quickly you can ring up a proxy service or VPN, around 5–10 minutes. I.e., you will need a proxy, VPN, or some other way to visit your site using an alternate IP address.

Note: This tutorial is aimed at Pro users, but the same general steps can be followed to verify that the free version is working properly.

Why no blocked bots?

If you’re not seeing any bad bots getting blocked after activating BBQ, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you’ve set up according to the docs
  • New(er) websites may not get a lot of bad bot traffic
  • Sites with low traffic may not get a lot of bad bots
  • Check if you are using any other bot-blocking plugins
  • Not all websites (even popular ones) get tons of bots
  • Blackhole will not work if you have page caching on site

So keep those things in mind. In most cases it’s just a matter of time before some bad bots fall into the black hole. If still in doubt after considering the above points, you can test if the plugin is working properly by following the next steps.

Important: The Google Chrome browser is whitelisted by default in the plugin settings. So do not use Chrome for testing. Or if you must use Chrome, make sure to remove chrome from the whitelist user agent setting. Otherwise, all of your tests will be ignored.

Part 1

There are two parts to this test. First we want to check if the plugin is blocking bad bots correctly. Follow these steps.

Step 1: Activate Blackhole Pro and make sure to add the provided rules to your robots.txt file.

Step 2: If using Pro version, set the “Threshold” setting to 1 (one). Remember to save your changes.

Step 3: Visit your website via proxy service or VPN, etc. Something to give you a different IP address. Tip: you can use a free IP checker to get the IP address of your proxy or VPN service.

Important: The point of using a proxy or VPN is to perform the test as a random, anonymous user who is not logged in to your WordPress site. If you want to test while logged in, make sure to disable the option “Logged-in Users”.

Step 4: View the source code of any of your web pages. Scroll to or find the “blackhole” trigger link. Then click to follow it. It will look something like this in the source code:

<a rel="nofollow" style="display:none;" href="" title="Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!">Name of Your Website</a>

Step 5: Following the trigger link will land you on the Blackhole Warning page and add your IP address to the Bad Bots Log. Remember it’s not your actual/usual IP address, you are visiting via proxy, so it will be the proxy IP that is added to the Bad Bots Log (not your actual IP).

Step 6: Reload the current page you are on (the Blackhole Warning page). The request should be blocked and you will see the new message, “You have been banned..” or whatever you have set for the plugin’s “Blocked Message” option.

Step 7: At this point, the plugin has proven to be working correctly. In the browser you are using to visit your site via proxy/VPN, you have shown the behavior of a bad bot, and thus have been blocked by Blackhole Pro.

If you were to visit your site using a different browser and your normal/usual IP address, you still will have access to the site. Because only the proxy IP was blocked, not your actual IP. So in your proxy browser you are blocked, but in your regular browser you are not blocked.

Note: After the test, Pro users are free to change the Threshold setting back to whatever you would like. Or keep it at 1 (which is the default value). Just a reminder.

Part 2

Now to check if the plugin is removing bots correctly. For example, if you decide to remove a bot from the Bad Bots Log to once again allow it access to your site. Follow the next steps to test it.

Step 1: Using your regular/usual IP address, log into your site and visit the Bad Bots Log.

Step 2: Locate the entry from your proxy text visit (from Part 1). Tip: to get the blocked IP address, you can visit a free IP checker using your proxy/VPN service.

Step 3: Delete the entry from your proxy test visit (from Part 1). Check the box and click the Delete button. This removes the bot/IP from the block list, so that it will once again have full access to your site.

Step 4: Return to your proxy/VPN browser and visit any page on your site. You once again should have open access.

That completes both parts of the Blackhole test. If everything went according to plan, congratulations. Blackhole is up and running properly, protecting your site against bad bots.

If anything did not go as planned, go back and walk thru the steps again to verify and gather information, like any related error messages, etc. Then let us know so we can try to help.

Note: Reminder that certain cache plugins can cause problems with normal functionality. Check out this post for more information.