In Praise of Akismet, Comment Spam Catcher

comment spammers the cockroaches of the blogging worldComment spammers are the cockroaches of the blogging world: offensive, persistent and not easily controlled.

For those new to blogging, it may help to explain that while email spam is targeted at you or me, comment spam is targeted at Google.

It’s a parasitic activity, aiming to get a better ranking on Google by linking your site to the spammer’s site via the comment. Hence the practice described dramatically as “Google bombing”.

As the WordPress.org Codex explains:

A spammer might have a site that sells a “mydrug” and wants to be at the top of a search for “mydrug” on Google, so to create the effect of a google bomb they leave comments on hundreds or thousands of weblogs linking to their site with the link text “mydrug”. They don’t really care if you see it, in fact they’d rather you didn’t because you would delete it, they just want the search engine to see it when they index your page.

What to do?

If your site is built on WordPress, the first thing to do is to make sure the Akismet plugin is activated.

The Akismet plugin developed and maintained by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, comes supplied with every WordPress installation.

I for one would not be without it. It does a terrific job in keeping this blog, for example, free of spam comments.

But you have to activate it. And for that you need to have an API key.  I got my API key from a site I set up on the WordPress-hosted platform at WordPress.com If you don’t have a WordPress.com blog and don’t feel a need for one, you can still get an API key by signing up, at no charge, for a WordPress.com account .

This is a non-trivial issue for any blogger

I just counted in the Akismet spam folder 18 spam comments on the one post I published here yesterday, 5 Things I Look for in a WordPress Theme. A genuine comment was let through as was my reply. All the spam comments had been picked up automatically by Akismet, so they never appeared on the blog. Typically they are illiterate or semi-literate and have little or nothing to do with the blog post in question.

These days, unless I go and look in the spam folder I don’t see many of these “comments”. That’s surely because Akismet learns from the blog owner’s or  administrator’s actions as indicating what he or she regards as spam.

When Akismet is still in the learning phase for your blog, you may see “comments” along the lines of the following examples taken from yesterday’s mini-blitz on the one blog post:

Great post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful information specifically the closing section I handle such information much. I was looking for this certain information for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.

Highly interesting post. You consistently publish a absorbing post. Thanks!

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

very cool blog. Plus for the article!

We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will likely be grateful to you.

Very interesting topic, regards for putting up.

Really impressed! Everything is very, very clear, open is a description of the problem.It contains the information.I wanted to let you know that I linked to your site with a dofollow links so visitors can come to see your blog.It is all very new to me and this article really opened my eyes,and I guess since I like reading your blog, others will too.You can find the link to your site here:

awesome blog excellent job

It would be funny if it wasn’t such a plague. I see blogs with this sort of comment and wonder if anyone is taking responsibility. It is such a bad look.

As well as having Akismet installed and active, you can moderate the comment stream using the various options provided in your WordPress Dashboard, under Settings -> Discussion.

Do you have any other tips for managing the comment spam issue?

Image credit: Blog with cockroaches photoshopped using the image Cockroach, by masterbutler, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

 

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.

Comments

  1. I was trying to set up my blog and saw the Akismet and did not activate it because I had no idea what it did or how big the problem is. I have certain blogs that I visit often and it asks for a website at the comment section but I had no idea people considered it spam if the site had a section for it and you put in your website address.

    • Andy – some people consider it spam, and it often is, when people put their url in the comment section, not in the space provided specifically for your website url

  2. Sometimes Akistmet send my comment to spam… I just notice it when I check the http referral link to of my page is coming from spam folder. I notice some good comment on my blog are also in my spam box.
    Yet I am using Akismet good enough.