Should You Pay the $5/Month Subscription Price for the Akismet Anti-Comment Spam Plugin

Akismet is an anti-spam plugin developed by the makers of WordPress. It is designed to stop comment spam. The plugin is free if you are publishing a blog only for personal use. There is a $5 monthly subscription price if you are running a commercial blog. Whether you should fork over this fee for Akismet really depends on several factors. There are certainly reasons to pay this fee, and Akismet is known to be very good at blocking comment spam on WordPress blogs. In some cases, however, it is just not necessary.

Akismet comes pre-loaded when you install WordPress on your website. This is primarily what makes it so popular. It uses a system that is far from foolproof. Essentially, it creates a filter system that compares comments posted across multiple blogs. If someone is trying to post the same message on multiple blogs, for example, the Akismet database will catch that and block the spam. It will do nothing to stop manual spam, but automated spam is definitely a bigger issue because it will destroy your blog’s commenting area if you don’t find a way to protect yourself. Akismet is going to block a lot of that automatic spam that is generated by spam bots (software programs used for automatic comment spamming). But is it necessary to pay $5 for this service if you have a commercial site?

Well, there are a lot of other free options in the WordPress plugin database that will purport to do the same thing for free. One advantage of Akismet, however, is that is blocks spam without requiring the use of things like CAPTCHA forms. Many of the free alternatives require a CAPTCHA form or other device that is inconvenient for commenters. However, there are some plugins like Spam Free WordPress that do not require a CAPTCHA but require something like a password. This can also stop WordPress comment spam while being a bit less annoying to commenters.

You also want to consider registration spam. Blocking all the comments in the world is not going to stop the spammers from using spam bots to register at your website. Akismet is not an anti-registration spam plugin, so you would have to use another plugin if you are allowing registrations at your website. For example, you may wish to have members register and log in to leave comments.

If you want to maximize the ability to get comments on your WordPress blog, you may wish to not require registration to comment. In that case, Akismet may be worth the price of admission for commercial sites. However, you could still use something like Spam Free WordPress or another free plugin first and compare results.

When you are first starting out as a blogger, you are generally going to be receiving little to no traffic. This means you want to keep expenses low to maximize your chances of turning a net profit. You may wish to start with a free plugin first and then move to Akismet as you start to get traffic and visitors to your blog. That way, you are getting actual value for your Akismet subscription instead of spending $5 per month on something that is not yet making you money. Also consider that you are already paying a hosting fee for your blog and website.

One good thing about Akismet is that you can expect it to remain up to date with WordPress’s own updates. Other plugins come and go, but Akismet will consistently be there as long as the WordPress developers decide to maintain the service. This could prevent hassles in having to change to different anti-spam plugins later if the one you are using falls out of date. However, always consider the bottom dollar when making this decision. It is not really that easy to make a lot of money with a blog, so think about getting some consistent traffic first before spending money on every little thing like Akismet for your WordPress blog.

Sources:

WordPress Anti-Spam Plugins Directory

WordPress Akismet Comment Spam Plugin Home Page

Understanding and Blocking the Various Kinds of WordPress Spam

WordPress is a great blogging platform that makes it easy for even non-technical users to publish a blog. Unfortunately, spammers know this and have devised software to spam WordPress blogs. You will simply drown in a sea of spam unless you find a way to stop it. By understanding the four types of spam, you can get control of your WordPress blog and keep it useful and fun for your visitors.

Comment Spam

This kind of WordPress spam can destroy comment discussions on your blog. It is usually in the form of some nonsense generic comment that has nothing to do with the post or article you published. You will also typically see a link to the spammer’s website in the comment and sometimes more than one.

Solution:

The fix to comment spam is to either use a plugin or to at least require users to do some action. You can require users to register, log in or both. However, there are also registration spammers that will register with software to post comment spam. Thus, you can still get spammed if you only require registration and logging in for commenting and do nothing about registration spam.

Thus, you need to either use an anti-spam plugin like Akismet or Spam Free WordPress that is designed to block comment spam OR require registration and logging in to comment AND use an anti-registration spam plugin like Sabre.

Registration Spam

As alluded to above, some software can actually automatically register the spammer as a member and start spamming comments. This software can even log in and do its nasty work. The way to block registration spam is through a plugin like Sabre. You can set up several anti-spam tests, such as CAPTCHA forms, math tests, text selection and even confirmation by email. A plugin is vital to stop WordPress registration spam.

Posting Spam

Comment spam is only one way a spammer can post messages on your site. However, posting spam is generally easier to combat. You just set the default status to each user as a Subscriber. These users cannot make new posts on your WordPress blog. Then, if you want to have guest bloggers, partners, and the like, then you change that user’s status to a Contributor or Editor. A Contributor can submit but not self-approve new posts or articles in his WordPress dashboard. An Editor CAN publish his own posts, so use the Contributor status to block posting spam by moderating and approving new articles or posts before publication on your WordPress blog.

Trackback and Pingback Spam

These are similar to comment spam. You can completely disable trackbacks and pingbacks in WordPress, as these frankly probably aren’t even that helpful for your blog. Some people use them for backlinks, but they are generally low-quality backlinks, so it is doubtful that a bunch of trackbacks or pingbacks are going to get you much traffic. Nonetheless, you could choose to manually approve trackbacks and pingbacks.

The things that can really hurt your website visually or for SEO purposes are the posting and comment spam. But blocking WordPress registration spam is also an integral part of of stopping the bad comments and posts. Although also an annoyance, trackback and pingback spam are not as important to stop, and there is really no harm in just completely disabling them. Completely turning off comments is a fairly drastic measure, and registration is also important if you want to have guest bloggers, additional admin and the like. Ideally, just focus your efforts on stopping the registration spam while requiring registration and/or logging in to comment. This is going to stop the bulk of spam at your WordPress website as long as you keep the default user status as Contributor.

Sources:

WordPress Anti-Spam Plugins

Tips for the Sabre Anti-Spam WordPress Plugin

If you have just started with WordPress, you are in for a seriously rude awakening. There are software programs out there that will automatically register for your WordPress blog. There are a couple of reasons why people would want to do this. The first is to submit articles automatically, and the problem is these articles are usually PLR or resale-rights articles that are not unique or, worse yet, articles generated from article-spinning software that you would never want on your blog. The second reason is comment spam, which is where people who have not even read your article post a bogus comment with a website link to promote their own website.

In my experience so far, Sabre has been 100% effective in blocking this registration spam. Of course, it is still possible for some to get through, but the Sabre anti-registration spam WordPress plugin has already blocked the first 48 spam attempts.

However, the Sabre plugin is a bit complicated to set up and has a lot of different options. You don’t want to use all of these options because that would make it too inconvenient for real users to register at your blog. Thus, I am going to tell you what settings I am using to stop spammers on my WordPress blog from registering.

Personally, I am using the math test and the text CAPTCHA test. Note that there is a main CAPTCHA test and a separate text test. I disable the main CAPTCHA because they are often too hard to read, which could excessively discourage registrations. The separate text CAPTCHA simply gives a word in easy-to-read text and asks the registrant to type in one of the letters. For example, with the word “facsimile,” Sabre may ask the registering person to enter the third letter. If the person enters “c,” he passes the spam test and can register. This is much easier to do than a regular CAPTCHA, which can be very annoying.

The math test asks the person to do a simple computation. I have seen spam software try to enter a number in this field, and they typically get it wrong, so this is stopping a lot of spam.

However, there is one more test that I use with the Sabre anti-registration spam WordPress plugin. It is called the “stealth test.” Although I do not understand fully how it works, I can tell you that it is very effective at stopping spam. When you use the stealth option, it will ask you for a maximum time to register and a minimum time to fill out the form. I personally kept the minimum at 5 seconds, and it blocks loads of registration spam because the software program can easily fill out the registration form in less than a second.

The last effective measure is to make it so the user has to confirm his registration by clicking a link in an email. The Sabre plugin sends this email, so all you have to do is install the plugin and use this option. You will see these settings under “Confirmation Options.” You may also choose to manually approve registrations, but I do not recommend this unless you have a lot of time on your hands. What software is going to check an email account for a confirmation link? Such software might exist, but I have not encountered such a thing on a wide scale. Thus, even if the spammer software manages to fill out the form, the registration will not take place unless he confirms in an email. You also want to set it so that the user cannot log in unless he first confirms.

While Sabre does not directly block comment spam, you can always use the WordPress settings to require users to register and be logged in to comment. In my version of WordPress (3.3.1), you will find these options in the “Discussion” link under “Settings.” This will also prevent all those spammers who could not register from also spamming through comments. Although some guests to your blog might not register to leave a comment, you really will be literally inundated with comment spam unless you use a plugin to stop it. Based on my experience, Sabre does a fantastic job of stopping registration spam and will also stop comment spam from those same guys who couldn’t register with their spamming software.

Notice: I have no affiliation with Sabre. I am just a satisfied user.

Sources:

Sabre Download Page on WordPress