Using Akismet As Your Blog’s Anti Spam Filter

Spam is something we all deal with.  We get it via email, and as a blogger we get A LOT of it.  I am not immune to it either.  In fact, as this blog has gotten more popular, the amount of blog spam has increased significantly in the comments section.  So much that I needed to implement an anti spam filter to weed comments out.

What kind of spam?

Generally, I have noticed a few methods of spamming in the comments sections of my various posts.  One basic method is to simply insert a generic comment, but then to include some type of link for the posters own personal gain.  Initially, I would go through these comments by hand and remove all links.  But thanks to my great readers, and the overall popularity gain, I just couldn’t keep up with all the comments anymore.

Another method I have noticed is for a single individual to post multiple comments in multiple posts.  Why would they do this?  Because they are allowed to enter a website with their info.  Therefore, they will post multiple generic comments, some having absolutely NOTHING to do with the subject of the post, just so their website can be displayed.

What can you do about it?

As I said, I needed to implement an anti-spam filter into my blog to help deal with these types of comments.  This actually helps weed out the legit comments, the people I want to help, from those who are posting junk to help themselves.  I understand why they are doing it, but spammers are going about it the wrong way.  I’ve stated before, if you want to promote your website you need to do it the right way.  And that is to post good comments with useful information that people want and need.  This I have no problem with.

Akismet

The anti spam filter I ended up implementing is called Akismet.  If you have a WordPress blog, it’s a simple plugin install.  You will also need to sign up on their website to get an API key in order to use the software.  What this does is to review comments for links and generic content.  It also keeps a database of “repeat offenders”, so if those users post a comment, it will automatically be spammed out.

The software actually learns the more it is used.  Which brings up one of the issues with it.  And it is something I just discovered myself, thus the reason for this post.  While the software does learn on itself, it is still just a program.  And it is not always accurate.

How accurate is accurate?

I had noticed the number of comments on my blog had gone from over 150/day to 0.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  At first, I had just assumed the first couple of days were a fluke.  But after a week of having not one comment, I had to assume something was up.  What Akismet will do is to automatically flag comments as spam and drop those comments into your spam folder.  This I did not know.

As such, I am now going through the spammed comments looking for valid comments.  Akismet calls these, “Ham” or “False Flags”.  What you can do is to declare comments as “not spam”.  They will then be moved into your comments section for approval.  So if you have posted a comment recently and have not seen it shown up, this is why.  And I apologize.  It will take some time to go through the rest of these comments, but I am hoping it won’t take too long to get caught up.

So keep this in mind if you end up using this software for your own anti spam filter.  It doesn’t just get rid of the comments…you will still need to go through them and decide if they are spam or not.  What I am hoping is that the software is smart enough to learn when certain comments are not spam, and will begin to spam out less comments as a whole.  If not, I’ll be forced to look for something else.

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