August 1, 2010: This post has been updated with new information resulting from an email conversation from Alex at Automattic, the creators of Akismet. It seems I made some incorrect assumptions on how Akismet works, so I would like to correct that information now. Following my original post you will find a few more questions that Alex answered for me.
Many WordPress bloggers use Akismet, a WordPress plug-in designed to help with all the spam we get nowadays (from July 16th to date Akismet has caught 506 spam comments). And it does a super job. Some days I get so much spam I can’t believe it, so I’m really glad Akismet is available.
Previously, I made this assumption about Akismet which Alex explained is incorrect:
I’ve removed the link to the recommended site because it contains incorrect information. Additionally, the “test if I’m spam in Akismet” blog has been suspended by WordPress.com due to a violation of the Terms of Service.
Here are my suggestions:
For the blog owner:
- Be careful who you mark as spam; remember this affects your blog’s Akismet settings only. Don’t assume the commenter is a spammer. If you have any question as to the authenticity of the blogger, or you just don’t like a particular comment, delete or trash the comment, instead of marking as spam.
- Check your spam folder every so often and make sure legitimate bloggers aren’t landing there.
- If you find a legitimate blogger there, click on NOT SPAM. This will help the blogger to get out of the spammer your Akismet spam settings.
I also suggested the following, which is partially incorrect:
If you find a legitimate blogger in your spam folder, here are my suggestions:
- First mark them as NOT SPAM.
- You may need to mark them as NOT SPAM a second time.
- If you find them there a third time, contact Akismet and let them know that you do not want this person marked as spam for your blog.
- I still think it’s a courteous thing to do to contact the blogger by email and let them know you found them in your spam folder, and let them know you have marked them NOT SPAM, which will help at your blog only. They may be experiencing the same problem with other blogs and may not know what to do about it.
On the commenter side:
- If you suspect you are being marked as spam, politely email the blogger you’ve commented at to look for you in their spam folder and mark you as NOT SPAM. They may need to do this twice.
- You may also contact Akismet and select “I think Akismet is catching my comment as spam”.
- Get yourself a gravatar – this makes you look more legitimate and it’s also much, much easier to sort out the real bloggers from those that belong in the spammer. The spam guys usually don’t put effort into securing a gravatar for their email address (because they probably discard it rather quickly anyway). It’s easier because I can click on my spam folder and quickly skim down to see if there is a gravatar rather than the shadow man. Almost every one with a personalized gravatar is a legitimate blogger.
- If you’re wondering where I got my avatar, I made it on Face Your Manga. I paid $1.50 for the right to use the avatar I’d made, and then I altered it in Photoshop to what it is currently.
Here are some of my questions and answers with Alex:
Mrs. Accountability: Okay, so… I may need to unspam [mark a commenter NOT SPAM] a person more than one time – is this because their comments seem like spam?
Alex: Usually it’s because your spam and ham reports share many things in
common, and Akismet is having trouble identifying the differences. If that’s the case, more reports (spam and ham) will help Akismet to learn.
Sometimes it’s because of a technical problem like a configuration issue on your server, a conflict with another plugin, or just a plain old bug.
Alex originally commented: The page linked (and many similar pages around the net) contains some incorrect information and bad advice.
Mrs. Accountability: I will happily approve your comment, but first would you be so kind as to point out the incorrect information and bad advice?
Alex: It’s based on the incorrect assumption that Akismet is a blacklist or
global spam list. That’s incorrect. Akismet produces different
results on each blog, based on what the owner of that blog teaches it.
A comment that’s considered spam on one blog will be accepted on
another – it depends on the blog.
Posting a comment on a test blog gives no useful information. All it
can tell you is whether or not one specific comment is accepted on
that blog, based on the feedback the owner of that blog has provided
The test blog linked from that site gave the misleading impression it
was an official test site run by Akismet. It’s not.
If comments on your blog are occasionally caught by mistake, use the
Approve or Not Spam button to teach Akismet to allow them in future.
If you regularly see someone’s comments going to spam and the Not Spam
button doesn’t help, please contact Akismet support.
Mrs. Accountability: So this is an incorrect statement:
Alex: Right, that’s an untrue statement. Marking a comment as spam affects
only your blog, it won’t affect that person’s ability to comment anywhere else. The same goes for un-spamming a comment.
(If it were true, it’d be trivially easy for bad guys to manipulate Akismet to spam their competitors’ comments and approve their own. People try that all the time, but Akismet knows how to detect it and deal with it.)
Okay, let’s hope I got everything right this time.
Thanks, Alex, I appreciate your patience and expertise on Akismet.