I stumbled across Janet Callaway’s 31 Outrageous Spam Comments post the other day and remembered all the struggles with blog spam that I’ve had over the years. Personally, I think the fabric to strengthen a blog against spam should be built into the structure of WordPress. But that’s not going to happen while the official anti-spam plugin (Akismet) is a paid tool, except for use on small personal blogs.
There are two reasons I don’t particularly like Akismet:
- There are more effective spam filtering plugins available; and
- You have to pay for Akismet, while the better ones are free.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got a lot of paid plugins and have no problem paying for them if they’re worth it, but if I can get a better job done for free, it’s a no-brainer.
Blog comment spam increases as you do better in the search engines. That’s how the spambots are programmed to find your site. Usually a spammer will give the software a list of keywords, the software will generate an even bigger list from that, then go out and pull the top 100 (or whatever number is set) sites for each keyword and post the spam comments to them. Unchecked, spam will slow down your site and take out time that would be better spent writing, promoting your site or responding to real readers’ comments. It’s a massive productivity and resources drain.
I’ve gone through a lot of spam filtering plugins over the years. Many either didn’t work or they required legitimate commenters to jump through a series of hoops to prove they are human. Apart from being terribly unsocial, I want to encourage legitimate comments, not make it difficult!
The best WordPress spam filtering plugin I’ve found so far is Antispam Bee. It’s free, much more customizable than Akismet, has the ability to tap into APIs like Project Honeypot, can learn from comments you mark as spam, lets you set the language of legitimate comments to only English or only German and just plain works. On sites where I was getting 50 – 100 spam comments a day with Akismet, now maybe 1 a week gets through.
Even better, you can set Antispam Bee to delete the spam comments the instant they’re posted, rather than sending them to the spam comments folder. This means they get blocked before they can slow down your wordpress databases. It works completely in the background, without using Captcha, so legitimate commenters won’t notice anything or be inconvenienced. Needless to say, Antispam Bee is on all my websites now and a lot of my clients’ too. It’s good to not have to deal with all that spam!