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Do you want to nip spam comments in the butt so they can no longer plague your blog? Well, you can do just that with a WordPress spam plugin called Akismet.
Akismet can make a huge difference in managing your comment sections quality and will help take care of spammy comments.
But it’s important to understand that no computer-based system is ever perfect. Meaning it is vital you get your settings right from day one. So you don’t risk losing valuable comments from visitors.
So let’s go through what you can expect from Akismet as a WordPress spam plugin. And by the end of this post, it will be setup to protect your blog even while you are sleep. With settings that keep your visitors valuable blog comments safe.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A WordPress Spam Plugin?
A clean and welcoming comment section, that invites visitors to engage with you and others. Rather than closing the browser window, because they’re afraid there might be other dangerous content lurking nearby.
Your site is safer for visitors because there are less un-moderated links or suggestions that don’t have their best interests at heart.
You can leverage more time to engage with your visitors. Instead of having to manually, sift through spam post-by-post. Which is time consuming, boring and disheartening when you put a lot of effort into your content.
What is Akismet?
Akismet is a WordPress spam plugin developed by Automattic (the same company that makes WordPress, Jetpack and more) in 2005. This plugin monitors your blog comments, trackbacks and contact form messages for content that might be spam. Anything that it decides looks like spam it filters out and prevents its publishing.
How Does Akismet Work?
Akismet filters each comment, trackback and contact form submission. Each message Akismet checks against the database and marks it as either spam or not. Ham is sometimes the name given to legit comments, which seems to just be a metaphor rather than an acronym!
Any spam that Akismet misses uploads to the database once you mark it as spam. This is how the database develops, learns and grows over time. Which means Akismet should improve with time and adapt. As spammers come up with new ways to cause trouble.
Depending on the settings, Akismet can either discard the spam for you automatically. Or move it to a spam folder for you to moderate.
Why Should I Use Akismet On My New Blog?
Akismet primarily will keep your comments clean from spam. But it can also work with contact forms and other user submissions. To keep bots and spammy content from clogging up your systems.
Like email authentication, how your content is perceived by visitors can make or break it. No one likes spam. And spam comments on your blog could put off visitors from browsing your site or leaving comments. No one wants that either, right?
Akismet is quick and easy to setup. All you need is the Akismet WordPress spam plugin installed. And an API key from signing up to one of their plans (free non-commercial or paid commercial plans).
Also, it integrates into popular plugins such as Jetpack with its shocking amount of modules that includes features like a contact form and beautiful WordPress Carousel Sliders. Plus Contact Form 7 can also link with Akismet. This means you can save time moderating and focus on the real contact requests through these plugins.
Oh and did I mention? Akismet can work on platforms other than WordPress. So if you ever change it can change with you. Other supported platforms are Drupal, phpBB3 and Joomla.
Finally, the most important reason to use Akismet is because it learns and improves with every comment it analyzes. As it constantly gets feedback on false positives and spam that it misses. Which updates its database that has been learning and adapting since 2005!
Is Akismet Worth The Cost?
Personal Plan pricing is Name your price. So technically, you can get it free for non-commercial websites and blogs.
If you monetize your blog then the Plus Plan is $5 per month, which is very affordable and will cover all your needs. It’s a small price to pay for a clean and safe blog for your visitors.
Up to $5 per month, to keep my blog spam free? This is an affordable and reasonable price when you consider the benefits.
Plus, the longer your blog is active and the more popular it gets. The more spam you will likely get. Yet you will still be paying the same price.
So while it might not seem like it’s worth it now. It will be as your blog grows.
Want To Get Akismet Setup? Here’s What You Need To Do:
The first step is to get the Akismet plugin installed on your WordPress site. If you search for it using the Add Plugins menu in your WordPress admin dashboard then it should look like this:
Once installed, make sure to activate it.
Akismet will appear under the left-hand WordPress menu Settings > Akismet Anti-Spam or if you have Jetpack installed it will appear under Jetpack > Akismet Anti-Spam.
Next, you’ll need an API key to activate it.
Registering For An API Key
Login to Akismet’s website using your WordPress account by clicking the Sign In button in the top right corner.
Akismet will ask you to pick a plan. You should only pick a Personal Plan if you don’t monetize or have any Ads on your blog. Otherwise, you should be choosing the Plus Plan.
The Plus Plan will require you to fill in additional details to take payments.
For Personal Plans the screen will look like the below. The $36/Year might surprise you, but bare with me here.
This $36/Year is actually a slider for you to decide how much Akismet is worth to you. If you just want to try it out, it is completely possible to drag this slider all the way to the left to $0/Year, like this:
All the requests for payment details disappear when you do this.
Adjust the slider based on your own opinion and fill in any remaining details. Click Continue once done.
Akismet should then generate an API Key for you.
Select your API key and copy it.
Connecting Your Akismet API Key
Go back to your Akismet WordPress spam plugin either through Settings > Akismet Anti-Spam or Jetpack > Akismet Anti-Spam.
Scroll down until you see a place to enter an API Key like this:
Paste your API Key from earlier into the box and click Connect with API key.
Akismet will let you know once everything is complete.
Use These Settings Or You Could Lose Legit Comments
Now that the Akismet WordPress spam plugin is setup and connected. Here’s the important part that people often miss. If you care about your visitors comments, which every blogger should then you need to make sure you change the default settings.
Not sure what I mean? Well, let’s look at the default settings Akismet comes with.
Whilst these settings seem harmless – let me explain.
The Strictness is the main concern here. By letting Akismet Silently discard the worst and most pervasive spam you run the risk of legit comments that are not spam getting accidently deleted forever.
It is important to change your setting to Always put spam in the Spam folder for review. This is especially true for new blogs or anyone trying out Akismet for the first time. Since you have no way of knowing how Akismet will work and sometimes it gets it wrong!
Don’t Make The Same Mistake I Did!
This is exactly what happened to me when I first started using it. In hindsight I wish I had looked at the settings more carefully and tested it. Don’t make the same mistake I did and change this setting asap.
By changing this new setting, you’ll get a chance to review each comment flagged as spam and un-spam it if required. You’ll get a little notification on your WordPress dashboard if you have anything to review.
I also recommend selecting Display a privacy notice under your comment forms. As it helps with the infamous GDPR, which is a set of legal requirements all websites should be aware of. It also doesn’t hurt to be transparent with how you collect and use data. After all, we all like to feel safe and secure online, right?
Remember to Save Changes once done!
The Key Elements For Using Akismet As Your WordPress Spam Plugin
Here’s a quick list of what you need to know. Including the drawbacks and benefits of installing Akismet as your WordPress spam plugin.
- Out-of-the-box settings are poorly setup. Make sure you turn off that automatic delete option!
- Quick & easy setup.
- It helps keep your blog clean and safe for visitors.
- Test out and monitor it when you first start using it.
- Free version for those just starting out and not monetizing their blogs yet.
- Paid version is cheap ($5 per month) and a worthwhile investment.
One Final Note That I Cannot Emphasize Enough
These recommended settings are for newer blogs that don’t have many comments to start out with.
Eventually you may find that you get 100s of spam comments per day. Which is just impractical to manage manually by yourself. At which point you need to decide for yourself whether to just let Akismet compile them. So you can skim through them at some point. Or switch back to let Akismet automatically delete spam comments for you.
Personally, I am the paranoid type. Computers can make mistakes after all. And even though Akismet is constantly learning and improving with every comment. I’d rather let Akismet filter comments and I’ll do the deleting. My opinion might quickly change though when I start getting that level of spam comments.
Pro Tip: Want to make it even easier for your visitors to comment on your blog posts? Well with Jetpack, you can enable visitors to comment using popular services like WordPress.com, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Learn how to enable this Jetpack comment feature plus several of the most useful modules to get started with.