Friday, December 27, 2013

Support - How we stop comment and trackback spam - Akismet

Support

Where can I get an API key?

You can signup for an API key at https://akismet.com/plans/

Where does the spam go?

When the plugin catches something as spam it saves it in the database for 15 days in case you want to check it out manually and then automatically deletes it. In the unlikely event something gets incorrectly identified as spam you can correct it and it submits the "false positive" back to Akismet for analysis and improvement of our system. If a spam comment happens to get through and you mark it as spam within WordPress, it does the same thing. Akismet becomes more effective the more you use it.

Choosing a plan. I'm a (insert special case here).

If you're a borderline business and you feel like you should be paying, go for the Pro-blogger license.

Who's behind this?

Akismet is the brainchild of Matt Mullenweg of WordPress and his merry band of Automattic rascal hackers. The name can be blamed on Matt's sister, Charleen.

What does the name mean?

Akismet is a contraction of Automattic Kismet. Our favorite definition of kismet is "Kismet (principle), the magnetic attractive force that actualizes the playing out of karma; often used in the positive sense."

Do you have any buttons we can put on our site?

Feel free to hotlink them, steal them, whatever you like. If you feel inclined to make a button, please let us know and we'll add it here.

How do I upgrade, downgrade, or cancel my account?

You can contact support at any time and we'll be happy to take care of this for you.

What happens if someone reports one of my comments as spam?

You won't be able to comment on that person's blog anymore. It won't affect your ability to comment anywhere else.

What happens if I report someone's comment as spam?

That person won't be able to comment on your blog anymore. It won't affect their ability to comment anywhere else.

A comment from a friend appeared in my spam folder. Why, and what should I do?

Use the un-spam button in WordPress to rescue it, or the equivalent button in your blog or forum application.

Akismet isn't perfect, and occasional errors do happen. The un-spam button will teach Akismet not to make the same mistake again.

Do I have to maintain a blacklist?

Nope! Part of the idea of Akismet is that you're always protected up-to-the-second from the latest dirty tricks of spammers. There's no maintenance, no upgrading, no hassle.

Can I use the WP plugin for my own non-WP.com blog or site?

Yep! That's the point. Download the plugin. It's available under GPL and fine for use in whole, or as a reference

What do I do if Akismet misses a spam?

When you mark a comment as "spam" in the plugin or submit it using the submit-spam API call, the mistake is noted by Akismet and it learns from your submission.

How can I support Akismet?

You might consider buying a small business license for $5/mo. If you would like to participate in the development of the GPL Akismet WordPress plugin or discuss adapting the Akismet API for a different platform, join the Spam Stopper mailing list and introduce yourself and your ideas. The more the merrier. :)

Can Akismet be used for other things besides WordPress?

Absolutely. The Akismet API can be adapted for almost any application with submitted content, including forums, wikis, and contact forms. If you want to adapt it for a different system, please join our development community.

Should I use any other spam plugins?

We ask that you turn off all other spam plugins as they may reduce the effectiveness of Akismet. Besides, you shouldn't need them anymore! :) But if you are investigating alternatives, we recommend checking out Mollom and Defensio, both which integrate with Akismet nicely.

Does it work on non-English comments?

Yes, our system does not discriminate against non-English comments. We have happy users from Japan to France.

What stops the system from being gamed?

Well without giving too much of the secret sauce away, we can safely say that it would be pretty difficult to poison Akismet. We use dozens of factors to determine the spamminess of a submission, and we also have an identity attached to everyone using and contributing to the system, which allows us to do some interesting things with weighting and clustering activity.

Does Akismet work for WordPress MU?

It sure does.

My API key doesn't work!

We get this pretty often, try these steps:

  • Try the key again, after a few minutes.
  • Type in the key instead of copying and pasting it.
  • Ensure that your host can make outgoing HTTP requests to akismet.com. (Many hosts block or firewall outgoing connections.)

I lost my API key!

No worries. Fill out this form and we'll email it to you.

What if the Akismet web service is down?

One of the reasons we're doing Akismet is we've built up a highly fault-tolerant infrastructure that can handle huge amounts of traffic and processing. However if something ever does go wrong your comments will simply go into the moderation queue.

I heard that Akismet blocks IP addresses and websites. Is that true?

No, Akismet is not a web site or IP blacklist. Blacklisting isn't very effective and causes false positives, so we don't do it.

Instead, Akismet always uses all the available information about a comment together in order to determine if it's real or spam. The IP address is an important piece of information, but it's always used in conjunction with other information about each comment.

Additionally, Akismet learns the preferences of each individual blog owner, and tailors its results accordingly – each blog has different standards for what is and is not considered spam, so Akismet produces different results on each blog.

I'm seeing a lot of false positives on my blog (that is, comments incorrectly caught as spam). Why, and what should I do?

Most false positives reported to Akismet were caused by one of the following things:

1) A configuration issue on your server, or interference from another plugin installed on your blog, is causing incorrect information to be sent to Akismet with each comment.

On WordPress, the best solution for this is to make sure you're running version 2.5 or higher of the Akismet plugin (which requires WordPress 3.0+).

It's possible your web server is configured in such a way as to obscure the commenter's true IP address from WordPress and Akismet. You can usually see if this is the case by looking at the IP column in your Comments tab. If all of the comments have the same IP address, your server (or a load balancer at your web host) is obscuring the true IP address. The best solution to this is to contact your web host and ask them to ensure that the REMOTE_ADDR cgi variable is correct; or that the HTTP_X_REAL_IP variable is set in its place.

Plugins that are known to cause problems by interfering with the comment information that is sent to Akismet include: the Quote Comments plugin; old versions of the CommentLuv plugin; and some do-follow and linkluv plugins.

2) The comments weren't caught by Akismet, but by WordPress or another plugin on your blog.

Version 2.5 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress has a Comment History feature that will help you see if a comment was caught by Akismet, or by something else. Click on the History link below a spam comment to see it. If it doesn't say "Akismet caught this comment as spam", then it means that something else on your blog put that comment in your spam folder.

Some common things that tend to incorrectly catch comments as spam include the WordPress Comment Blacklist feature; other spam filtering plugins, particularly those that use CAPTCHAs; and the Bad Behavior plugin.

3) You, or another moderator on your blog, mistakenly clicked the Spam button on that comment.

Again the History feature in version 2.5 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress will help you to detect this. If a comment was moved to the Spam folder by a comment moderator, you'll see a little grey text beside it saying something like "Flagged as spam by matt". You can click on that text, or on the History button, to see exactly what happened. To fix it, just click the Unspam button.

Also, it's possible that you or another moderator used the Spam button on a pervious comment by the same person, and that has trained Akismet to consider subsequent comments by that person to be spam. Again, to fix it just click the Unspam button.

Help! Akismet is catching a regular comment as spam!

Don't worry, if you see a regular comment on your Akismet page, just click the "Approve" button or the "Not Spam" checkbox and submit and the comment will be sent back to Akismet as a mistake. The system will learn from your submission, though it may take a day or so in some cases. False positives, as they're called, are extremely rare and we watch them closely.

My reported caught numbers look to be off?

Some versions of the Akismet for WordPress plugin will hide duplicate comments, making it appear to be a different number caught than displayed.

You misspelled "automattic."

No we didn't. :)

Why do I need to register for WordPress.com to get a key?

Because it allows us to maintain a single registration system and better protect against abuse of the system. You don't need to get a blog, choose the "just an account" option when signing up.

All of the comments on my blog are going to spam!

Are you using the ReCaptcha plugin for WordPress? If so, please disable it and see if that fixes the problem. It sometimes catches comments as spam even when Akismet says they're not.

If that doesn't fix the problem, please contact support and we'll investigate.

Now that you know our secrets, sign up for a plan and show comment spam to the door.



Elyssa D. Durant. Ed.M.
Research &  Policy Analyst
  

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