Are we all betting our blogs on Akismet?

Filed as News on December 11, 2006 9:01 am

akismet.gifA couple of days ago, popular WordPress anti-spam plug-in Akismet went down due to some DNS issues. During that short period, tons of comment and trackback spam went thru like fireworks in the 4th of July.

Most of us running WordPress practically rely on Akismet to combat spam and according to its overall stats, 93% of all comments are spam (the real figures would be a bit higher than that). Today alone, there are close to 2 million spam being filtered out by Akismet. But what if Akismet fails again and the next time would be more disastrous? Thousands upon thousands of comments to either manually moderate, delete or flag as spam. That task could take hours and maybe even days especially for blog networks with dozens or hundreds of blogs to maintain.

That’s why we need a backup plan or an alternative form of defense. They might not be as robust and comprehensive as Akismet but at least they’ll be able to kick in when Akismet is down (or being attacked itself).

Here’s what’s on top of my list for Akismet alternatives:

  • Dr. Dave’s Spam Karma 2 — before Akismet, this plugin is one of the best out there and probably still one of the toughest anti-spam contenders.
  • Bad Behavior 2 – another solid plugin that’s going neck in neck with Spam Karma (pre-Akismet era)
  • Elliot Back’s WordPress Hascash – used to be my favorite but sometimes blocks real visitors from commenting

The three mentioned above plus a host of other secondary anti-spam bot tools like Math Comment Spam Protection, Comment Policy plugin, and Comment Authorization plugin, aren’t only for people contemplating on a Plan B but those who want more spam protection as well.

So, who said one is enough?

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  1. By Cary posted on December 11, 2006 at 11:26 am
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    This is a really good question…. I have yet to understand why so many bloggers rely on Akismet when Spam Karma 2 + Bad Behavior work just as well, or better, and they don’t rely on outside resources.

    I receive a ton of comment spam across all of my blogs, but Sk2 catches everything.

  2. By Abe Olandres posted on December 11, 2006 at 11:53 am
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    @ Cary

    I think it has got to do with *convenience*. Akismet comes pre-installed compared to SK2 or BB2 which needs to be set up.

  3. By Matt posted on December 11, 2006 at 12:57 pm
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    As I noted in the entry, the new version of the plugin has a button that will recheck comments so you don’t have to spend “hours” digging through what got through, you just click a link and things are back to normal.

  4. By Amrit Hallan posted on December 11, 2006 at 2:09 pm
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    I agree with Abe. Previously we used to install Akismet as a separate plug-in so the choice was wider. Now it comes preinstalled so the users don’t want to bother with another plug-in.

    The best bet would be a plug-in that works on the local level, and that can detect if a comment is originating from a bot, and not a human being.

  5. By Duncan posted on December 11, 2006 at 10:03 pm
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    A word of warning, some of those other plugins aren’t friendly on server resources, indeed it’s another reason why I personally only use Akismet. Yes, we are too reliant on the service, but simply there’s nothing better out there at all, hands down.

  6. By Quix0r posted on December 12, 2006 at 4:26 am
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    The same in emailing with spamhaus.org. Do you remeber that story? There was an U.S. spammer who has targeted spamhaus with a court’s order. But: Spamhaus is U.K. and not U.S.. :) Oh, I become off-topic. When spamhaus woudl go offline only for one day billions of spam mails will reach the mail servers. That will be a complete meltdown for all mail servers on this world. :( Okay, maybe some got spam-ed out… ;-)

    What I want to say here is that when we all count on one central but good service all our blogs belongs to them… That also means in case of comment/trackback spam it will raise tons of spams on our blogs. And that’s why you shall not count on a single solution. You need backup solutions like Abe has mentioned in his posting: SK2, BB2 are strong spam fighters. But not one of them alone. They all will protect your blog from spam attacks when you let them work together. :) And maybe Abe want’s to add my CPR plugin here, too. ;)

  7. By Jeremy Wright posted on December 12, 2006 at 11:16 am
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    Have to agree with Dunc on this. The server resources that SK2 and BB2 chew up are insane when you watch them. Especially if you get hit with an onslaught. If you’re on a shared hosting account, it’s responsible to use Akismet. If you’re on your own box, well you can see how much better Akismet is for your resources for yourself ;-)

  8. By Riley posted on December 12, 2006 at 11:52 am
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    I found out the hard way that their are other options besides Akismet but until the mishap I hadn’t paid attention. It affected over 10 of my affiliate blogs total, it could have been worse – what a pain to clean!

  9. By Abe Olandres posted on December 12, 2006 at 1:33 pm
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    But say, if you’re spending $500 on an enterprise license for your network, you could actually get 2 dedicated servers for that amount running just anti-spam scripts.

    So, in terms of it being cost-effective, it’s comparable. All else being equal, the volume of spam to process is directly proportional to the size and number of blogs.

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  11. By noel posted on December 13, 2006 at 4:03 am
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    These comment spams are really costing a lot of money and productivity.

  12. By Ajay D'Souza posted on December 14, 2006 at 11:50 am
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    This is something that I have anticipated time and time again and hence never ever bothered switching over to Akismet completely. From the little that I use Akismet (via the Akismet Plugin for SK2 and on my WordPress.com), I’ve had more trouble maintaining comments than with SK2.

    As of now SK2 is my primary plugin along with BB2. I also got Peter’s Antispam installed which takes care of the few spambots that keep hitting SK2.

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  14. By Michael Hampton posted on February 16, 2007 at 3:36 pm
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    Bad Behavior also isn’t an “alternative” to Akismet. It’s meant to run in combination with traditional spam prevention stuff.

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