Why We Don’t Use Akismet

Why We Don’t Use Akismet

There was a time that Akismet was the go-to weapon against comment spam on WordPress sites. Unfortunately, we don’t think it has kept up with the threats that web developers face, it makes mistakes and still leaves a bunch of garbage comments in your WordPress database. I’ve never used Akismet, can’t really explain why, just didn’t. Olaf used to use it but has since found better alternatives to Akismet.

Reasons to avoid using Akismet

  1. It’s only free for personal use; otherwise you have to pay from $60 a year for each site up to $50 a month (“for publishing networks, agencies, hosts and universities or multiple sites”). Part of the problem with that concept is that they don’t really define what they consider a “commercial” website. Is a commercial site a mommy blogger with a few Adsense ads or is it only true commercial enterprises that sells a product or service?
  2. A lot of obvious spam gets through.
  3. Doesn’t actually block the spammers. Akismet might flag their comments as spam but it does nothing to keep them from dumping 100 spam comments a day on your site. All of that junk uses your bandwidth, disk space and clutters up your WordPress database.
  4. False positives. Akismet has a reputation for flagging good comments as spam. That means you’re still going to have to slog through all 1,248 comments in your spam folder to make sure it is all truly spam.
  5. It can ignore comments made by legitimate visitors. I’ve seen several articles about this and experienced it myself. You leave a thoughtful reply to a blog post and when you hit submit there’s no notice of the comment awaiting moderation, no posting of the comment and no outward sign that what you took the time to write was actually accepted. Akismet may have simply blocked it.

Ah, but wait, Akismet is supposed to send suspicious comments to the spam folder. Apparently, not only does it send some legitimate comments to the spam folder, it doesn’t let some comments even into the system. Through the mysteries of their algorithm and reporting system, one of my email addresses was apparently placed on a spammers list. I don’t do a lot of blog commenting and when I do, it is usually several paragraphs long and they are always on point and would contribute to the conversation. In researching this article for Olaf, I found several folks theorizing that a denial of a trackback or even a single blogger tagging a comment with a particular email address can get that email banned in Akismet. I had always just assumed something went wrong between my lousy Internet connection or the blog I was commenting on. I don’t spam. It never occurred to me that I was on some sort of blacklist.

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