Akismet, Spam Filters and Comment Moderation

spam

from Flickr

A few weeks ago, I decided to remove the Math Spam Protection from my comments form, and opted to finally give Akismet a try again.

I had enabled it a long time ago, when I first began blogging, but found that a lot of good comments were being caught in the spam filter. So I disabled it, and went with the simplest captcha I could find. Unfortunately, captchas cannot do anything about trackback spam, of which I was receiving about 100+ per day.

So now, I finally have the freedom from the horrible amount of spam I was receiving. But I do have some commentators who are always being filtered into the spam folder, no matter how many times I approve them and they are marked as “false positives” in the system. And it’s not just new commentators either – some of them have been commenting on this site for months now, and are far from ever being considered spammers, and yet, there they are, caught in my Akismet spam filter.

I think that one thing that may be contributing to being caught by Akismet is other bloggers marking certain commentators as spam simply due to their website affiliation. I know that even I look twice at comments made by people in certain fields. But just because someone is marketing a particular website does not make them automatically a spammer. My rule is if the comment looks legitimate, and the website is not an adult site, online pharmacy, etc. then I will approve the comment. If this person has shown that they took the time to read the article, and made a thoughtful comment about it, then they deserve to have their comment posted.

On the other hand, spammers have gotten better about making legitimate looking comments, which I may have approved a few of as well. I have turned down many more comments than I have approved out of the Akismet spam filter, so it’s not for lack of paying attention. And I admit, I need to go through and have a look at some previously approved people, as I have found that some people get the feeling they can write a few great comments, and then be free to not contribute valuable comments but take advantage of the dofollow link privileges thereafter.

For Commenters

For now, the benefits of Akismet are definitely hard to pass up, so I have to apologize to those who have been unfairly caught in the filter. I will do my best to check it more often. If you are a commentator who notices your comments are not being approved after 24 – 48 hours, send a message (maybe through the site’s contact form) and ask the reason your comment is not being approved. This will show that you are not a “drive by” comment spammer, and will also hep remind me to check the spam filter. I would suggest this approach on other blogs as well, especially ones that designate they use Akismet.

For Bloggers

How do you handle comment moderation and determine if something is spam or legitimate? If you are on WordPress, would you recommend Akismet or another spam filtering plugin?

Resources

Here are some more good articles on comments, moderation and spam.

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Comments

  1. says

    I think Akismet is good precisely because it is aggressive. I agree that it can be too harsh with commentators who deserve better, but I also think commentators who deserve better can be rewarded in other ways – i.e. you can link to them in Fetching Friday or blurb them on the blogroll or Stumble them or something.

    I understand that “link juice” is important, but not every comment someone places on a blog is going to be spam. Akismet usually discriminates – in my limited experience – when you try to drop multiple links in a comment. Again, if the comment is important, there are other ways to make sure it gets noticed, i.e. “write a blog post of one’s own and link to the original post,” or e-mail the author after the comment has been rejected and make sure it stays up.
    .-= ashok´s last blog ..If you want to do me a favor… =-.

  2. says

    @ YogaforCynics – I would love to be able to do that, but even with my blog’s limited traffic, the spam is way too much. There are thousands of spam comments in the Akismet filter right now, I get something like 50 a day.
    .-= ashok´s last blog ..If you want to do me a favor… =-.

  3. says

    I’ve been using Akismet since day one and it says it has filtered something like twelve thousand spam comments. But lately I’ve noticed Akismet letting obvious spam comments through. If a comment has a dozen links it should be obvious but a few have gotten through.

    I also have a bunch of people that go into the spam box every time. Yan comes to mind. He leaves the best comments yet Akismet doesn’t seem to like him. I have no idea why.
    .-= Brian D. Hawkins´s last blog ..Chasing The Guru Ghost =-.

  4. says

    Akismet is the easiest way to stop spammers, it is really simple and does a majority of the work for you. It is not 100% perfect though. Trackbacks should always be checked and spam should get a quick run through. But it is nice to do the majority of work for you!
    .-= Seth W´s last blog ..Refresh your Blogging Process in 4 Steps =-.

  5. says

    I like Akismet. I am sure I get false positives, but I check every so often and will approve them – and then send an email to the commentor who left the comment

    They often don’t realize they were even caught by the spam filter, and I think it increases our connection because they realize I do care.

    However, now that I use DISQUS for comments all I have to worry about is trackback spam – and Akismet does that beautifully. I don’t know if I have had more than 5 false positives with it
    .-= Sid Savara´s last blog ..How To Get Motivated – 8 Tips to Break Your Motivational Funk =-.

  6. says

    Yes, I would and do recommend akismet. The reason some people get marked as spam is on them. I wrote a post about a month or 2 ago about how to get off akismet blacklist. To sum up the post I wrote. Here’s how to get off the akismet blacklist.

    1) Logout and comment on your blog. Login and approve the comments.
    2) Comment on at 5 of your friends posts and tell them to a approve it.
    3) Repeat 1 and 2. You should be off the akismet blacklist.
    4) Until you are off the akismet blacklist, contact each blogger and tell them to approve you.

    To make things move a little faster, contact the creators of akismet.
    .-= Deneil Merritt´s last blog ..Why Your Blog Readers Don’t Buy =-.

  7. says

    I have used Spam Karma 2 for years and have been very happy with it. I know it is no longer supported, but I have not had many problems with it. I tried to download it, and the site doesn’t seem to work anymore. I guess I could make it available from my site. If anyone is interested, let me know and I will put up a link (although I fear the bandwidth usage).
    .-= Anthony´s last blog ..How Social Media Marketing and Blogging have Altered Conversion Statistics =-.

  8. says

    If you’re running a WordPress blog, you can dump Askimet if you change the URL of the comment post PHP file, which I think is wp-comment-post.php or something like that. I’m not sure if that will work just by changing that and the action of the form. If not it will need a bit more meddling.

    WP comment spam is largely automated. Askimet is good at stopping that. The apps and scripts that do it post everything to the wp-comment-post.php file. So by changing it you will stop the spam.

    Then you have the problem of manual spam. I have a few solutions for this that I am wanting to integrate into my site:

    1 – block all comments that have ‘seo’, ‘web design’ and other common spam names in
    2 – record how long the person has been on the page before they comment; combine that with finding out how long it would take to read the post so you can tell if they have really read it, if they have scanned it or if they have just boshed out a comment for links
    3 – record the country of the IP address and pay close attention to comments from India
    4 – record the referer. Some “SEOs” have dofollow blog lists, so if the referer is something like:

    seoindia.com/dofollow-blogs?pagerank=4

    I would just bin it outright no matter what the comment is.
    .-= David´s last blog ..Writing for Search Engines and People =-.

  9. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Seeing as how my blog is still on a few dofollow lists (even though technically, only a select few people have their comments do followed at this time), I am pretty aggressive with the spam filtering. I use akismet, and bad behavior, which between the two of them catches pretty much all of the automated spam.

    In addition, I’ve become a bit more “cold hearted” about my response to manual spam. When someone leaves a one sentence comment, especially of the “kissing my butt” variety: “I really like your blog, thank you for this post, I think I’ll subscribe, etc,.” the first thing I look at is the “name”, if it’s keywords that relate to the site they’re linking to, I usually mark it as spam … because lets face it, that’s what it is.

    I am Not obligated to provide a followed link to someone just because they found my blog on some list, then took 5-10 seconds to leave a generic one sentence comment.

    Do followed links are for people who take the time to write good comments, that enhance conversation and/or contribute useful content to my blog. Ideally, “dofollow” commenting should be a symbiotic relationship … ie, the commenter and the blogger both get something out of it.

    Just my three pennies.
    .-= Todd Morris´s last blog ..A Dream Board In Your Pocket =-.

  10. says

    :) This is pretty amusing. Not your article, it is excellent as always. I wrote on this very topic today myself! Well my post was more on comment moderation and spotting comment spammers so it is a bit different. Akismet is available on all of my networks and I use it on my individual sites. I definitely recommend a spam filter like Akismet but I also recommend coupling that with manual comment moderation. The manual comment moderation is because of the occasional filtering of real, quality comments. Excellent post.
    .-= Rich Dansereau´s last blog ..Comments – The Good, The Bad, And The Lowdown =-.

  11. says

    Kikolani,
    I also use Bad Behavior in conjunction with Akismet. The way bad behaviour works is by analyzing the http: request to see if it looks spammy or malicious. This keeps spam robots from ever visiting your website and thus reducing the amount of both comment and contact form spam. This not only helps save bandwidth but also will make sure you analytics programs more actually reflect actual human visitors.

    I have been using Akismet for a very long time and by and large it has been more beneficial than not. As you mentioned it catches a lot of trackback spam and occasionally it filters a legitimate comment but that is just here and there. If you are actively managing your blog as any good blogger does this will not be much of an inconvenience.

    I’m glad to see you have changed the math captcha. I wrote a post awhile back Is Your CAPTCHA Killing Your Business that pretty clearly explains my thoughts on CAPTCHAs.
    .-= Gerald Weber´s last blog ..Mixxing with a Dash of NoFollow =-.

  12. says

    Wow was I in the dark ages or what? I had been MANUALLY going through the 50-80 comments I was getting daily (95% of which was spam) until today. I have installed Akismet and Bad Behavior (thanks Gerald!) on all my blogs. At this point I would gladly give up the occasional real comment in exchange for not having to waste 10 minutes of every day spamming out crappy comment spam.

    I do have a related question for the community. Is it in bad taste to delete the outlink to the “butt kisser” posts and keep the comment on the blog? I’m talking about the “I have searched the internet alot and this site is the greatest and I will check back often” and it’s made by xbox junkie with a link to xboxjunkie.com.

    Those are fictitious names but you get the point right?
    .-= chris burns´s last blog ..Integrate wordpress Blog In Joomla Website =-.

  13. says

    You are the first person who admitted not using Akismet. I wrongly assumed every WordPress blogger had Akismet enabled in a Peter Liu-sort-of-Day-Two action.

    Be warned: Every couple of months, Akismet fails and every piece of spam (if you don’t have moderation) comes through.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..Bring Wi-Fi to Amtrak – But How? =-.

  14. says

    I’ve had Akismet filter over 30,000 comments so I could never run without it. So, I also highly recommend it.

    I have found the last couple months a lot more spam getting through it from obvious website promoters not really adding any value. I manually spam many of those even if it approves them. I have not had any problems with false positives really, I’ve only ever seen a few, maybe one every couple hundred, but I can’t say I always check, just too many to go through.

    If you always approve new commentors, you won’t have any spam showing up really. That’s how I use it.
    .-= Mike King´s last blog ..Book Review: The Pursuit of Something Better =-.

  15. says

    Hi Kristi,
    i agree with Akismet it’s good but i seen it’s catch some quality commentators so i don’t like much more i think manual moderation is best way, i think when you erase mathematical spam from that that day i face the problem in commenting…
    Thanks!!!
    .-= SEO Company´s last blog ..Install Cpanel on RHEL AS4 =-.

  16. says

    I had also tried Akismet a while ago, but I deactivated it after a while because of the issues that you and a few of the commenters mention. Some of my regular commenters would suddenly be blocked from even submitting a comment for no apparent reason, and others would keep getting marked as spam even if I approved them time after time. It just got too unstable for me after a while. But I haven’t tried to re-activate it to see if some of the issues have been resolved.
    .-= Adrenalynn´s last blog ..But mud wrestling, on the other hand… =-.

  17. says

    One or two of you mentioned comment moderation: even though I get a lot of comments I flat-out hate – people who clearly just read the title and didn’t really engage the matter of the post – I really don’t want to go the comment moderation route. I know how frustrated I get when I don’t see my comments show up, and that actually speaks to the virtue of Akismet: one is usually using it instead of moderating every single comment and passing judgment on their writers.
    .-= ashok´s last blog ..Notes on Dickinson’s “They say that “Time assuages”…” (686) =-.

  18. says

    Akismet is not working the way I want for me. On my blog it do not move spam do spam folder but deletes it without review – I have no idea how to fix it… :/
    .-= KreCi´s last blog ..Tweet & Win! =-.

  19. says

    Kristi, you’re introducing the nightmare of every WordPress blogger. Beside ‘moderating comments’, I used to handle this at first with ‘Akismet’ & ‘Capatcha’. Then when things were worse, I stopped added a layer of protection with ‘Bad Behavior’ but still was hitted by this SPAM.

    Later, I added a tric via ‘.htaccess’ but it all of this did not work as I want although it decrease the amount. Right now beside the moderation, I am using ‘Akismet’, ‘WP-Spame Free’ and the ‘.htacess’ thing but quite the ‘Capatcha’ because it was not doing work good, however still checking the ‘SPAM’ box for mis-caugted spams!
    .-= Hicham´s last blog ..You’ve got Tag #001 =-.

  20. says

    I hate spammers too… I do have a few comments getting into my Akismet spam list as well everyday no matter how many times I approved their comments. Everyday I have to go into the spam list and look through it just in case there is legitimate comments there… pain in you-know-where… :)

  21. says

    Akismet is one such plugin without which I can’t even think of writing a single post.. Else every day I will be spending most of the time on cleaning my blog from spam bots

  22. says

    The article is full of information. My comment is that Akismet is a WordPress plugin that comes default with every installation. Akismet is a real-time adaptive spam filter which scans all incoming comments and helps you automatically filter spam comments by stopping them at their source. … Be careful with the word lists offered in Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist. If you were to type the word “ass” it would block the word assistance or assume. WordPress offers a list of words you may use in the Comment Moderation .

  23. says

    Askimet is definitely the best option out there but you will find some spam still gets through. The only real issue I have found with askimet is that it tends to block pingbacks, not all but a lot of them, part from that it’s solid.
    .-= SEO wizz´s last blog ..A Few Things To Shout About =-.

  24. says

    I’ve been using akismet with Wp spam free and the combination seems to work excellently well. I’m yet to get an email from a reader complaining about comments not showing up ;-). With the 2 plug-ins activated, i now moderate fewer spam comments than before ;-)

  25. says

    Hey Kristi,

    Akismet has always worked well for me, so I can’t really answer why your preferred commenters would be placed in the spam folder. For some reason I get a lot of messages with random strings of numbers and letters that have no meaning whatsoever. I’m not really sure why someone would send out something like that. The only solution I’ve come across is taking the time to check the spam folder for quality comments that have been sent there. Let us know if you come upon a solution.
    John just posted Hypnotherapy Can Help You to Put Down that Cigarette

  26. says

    Akismet might be described by many as horrible – but I think that it’s the most effective comment spam protection software there is – and it’s free.
    Somtimes it would appear to be too aggresive – but then again that’s exactly why I think comments should be moderated.
    I have been using aksimet since I started my blog and haven’t encountered any major problems to it. So hope you sort yours out, eventually.

  27. says

    The problem with akismet is that it can’t tell 100% that a comment is spam it just base on previous user actions let’s say I was mark as spam from one blog then I go here to leave a good comment, what happen is that my comment will also not show so that’s the problem with akismet so you really need to check even the spam box to save legitimate comments from bloggers.

    Matthew

  28. says

    There are always advantages and disadvantages of this software. In my opinion the URL, email, Name used and IP address are one of the factors Akismet are blocking. Once one of these are marked by Akismet – it’s hard to get back to track.