What To Do If You've Been Labeled As Spam by Akismet

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.

Some personal finance bloggers lately have been diving head first into my spam folder, no thanks to my Akismet plug-in.  Sorry Bucksome Boomer, Mrs. Money, Joe Plemon and Mr. Credit Card!

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:

Akismet does not work by blacklist, so there is no accumulative list that tells all blogs to see you as spam. You may have been seen as spam by Akismet because your comment seems "spammy"; apparently personal finance comments are a bit more difficult for Akismet to figure out.

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:

  1. First mark them as NOT SPAM.
  2. You may need to mark them as NOT SPAM a second time.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
to Akismet.

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.

OUT OF DEBT AGAIN is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. OUT OF DEBT AGAIN is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. This post may contain affiliate links.

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19 comments to What To Do If You’ve Been Labeled As Spam by Akismet

  • Unfortunately, you can add me to the list as well! I will keep commenting so that I can get a lot of “not spam” clicks, and I’ll also add a gravatar to my email address.

    Thanks for helping me out with this so far, I appreciate it!

    [Reply]

  • looks like I’m no longer SPAM here..but still on other sites!

    [Reply]

  • Thanks for these tips. Luckily, I’ve not been tagged as SPAM. But I do check my spam comments and have found some legitimate bloggers in there. I didn’t know I needed to click ‘not spam’, I’ve just been approving their comments. Thanks for the tip!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Hi Little House, thankfully, me either! You’re welcome for the tip! :-)

    [Reply]

  • Thanks! I just updated my settings!! Hopefully my perpetual spam problem will is OVER!

    Thanks again!!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    My Financial Objectives: You’re welcome and good luck! :-)

    [Reply]

  • Alex

    The page [page removed] (and many similar pages around the net) contains some incorrect information and bad advice.

    If you (as a blog owner) are regularly seeing comments going to your spam folder by mistake, please contact Akismet support. It’s usually a simple problem that is easy to correct.

    http://akismet.com/contact/

    [Reply]

    Invest It Wisely Reply:

    @Alex,

    I have tried that, and I have never heard back from them. Could you please explain why any comment with my blog in the URL field automatically goes to spam on any blog that has not marked me as “not spam”, and why this spontaneously started happening on all blogs after a certain date? I even got marked as spam by my *own* blog. Now that just adds insult to injury.

    [Reply]

  • “A comment that’s considered spam on one blog will be accepted on
    another – it depends on the blog.”

    That does not seem to be true in practice. I noticed that all of a sudden I was going into spam on ALL blogs I commented on — even blogs I had never commented on before. Therefore, it really does appear that I’ve been added to a blacklist.

    Not only that, but there are some commentators on my site that still end up in spam although I’ve unspammed them 3-4 times now. Frustrating for them, and for me, too.

    [Reply]

  • Askimet contacted me informing me that the problem had been resolved; indeed, it seemed resolved for a couple of days, but all of the problems are back. A lot of people are getting tossed into the spam when they comment on my site as well.

    I have decided to disable Askimet and rely solely on my captchas until they can fix these issues. I have not noticed cookie problems or other problems with my captchas, so I hopefully don’t deter any would-be commentators!

    [Reply]

  • After reading this, I wrote them using their contact page and explained that I can’t even comment on my own or my friends’ blogs. I have not receive a reply yet but now I my comments are not going to spam on most of the blogs

    [Reply]

  • I am not sure about Akismet not being a global spam bucket. If you mark me as spam, and job blow marks me as spam, and fred marks me as spam, then all of a sudden I am going to go in the spam bucket on any site using akismet. That’s global and more than just “on my site”.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    @Mike Murray,

    I agree with this. Why would Akismet call home if they did not have a central repo of some kind?

    [Reply]

  • Ashley Carter

    This sucks.. The whole purpose of akismet is to block spam and reduce unnecessary human efforts..
    So, in case, if i am being marked as spam, i dont have time to contact all blog owners begging to get out of their spambox and make as legitimate..
    That is plain unnecessary..

    Using Captcha deals with spam in more better way !

    Akismet is crap ! Do not use it..
    Akismet got crazy high false positive ratio !

    [Reply]

  • [...] Out of Debt Again: What To Do If You’ve Been Labeled As Spam by Akismet – This one is important to me, since I’ve recently been mistakenly flagged as spam by Askimet, and it’s been a real pain in the ass. I’ve had over 10 bloggers mark me as “not spam” and yet I STILL end up in the spam. What’s up with that? It’s been happening to a lot of fellow bloggers, as well! Thanks for the help, Mrs. Accountability! [...]

  • [...] Thanks to help from fellow Yakezie members I was freed from spam jail. Out of Debt Again shares the great advice she gave me on how to get untagged by [...]

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  • [...] Mrs. Accountability has published a great post about the topic on her site: “What To Do If You’ve Been Labeled As Spam by Akismet” [...]

  • [...] have approved him 500 times and yet Akismet never learns.  I came across another blogger who had some information from Akismet.  Apparently the “spam” status is set for each blog – not a collective vote [...]

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