Akismet is one of those quiet utility plugins that works in the background of your WordPress site without a lot of fanfare. When it’s doing it’s job, your blog comments stay spam-free and you never think twice about it. Forgetting to activate Akismet on a new site will quickly remind you of just how much spam is targeted at WordPress sites.
Akismet 3.0 is a major rewrite of the plugin that improves its efficiency in handling the worst spam that hits your site. When you visit your Akismet settings you’ll see how many days of your life Akismet has saved you as well as some new stats and graphs demonstrating the plugin’s effectiveness. Here’s an example from a small, personal blog:
Akismet 3.0′s Silent Discard Feature Improves Performance
In addition to an easier signup and configuration process, this version introduced a silent discard feature that identifies and outright blocks the worst spam comments.
Throughout the course of improving Akismet, the team found that approximately 80% of spam is so bad that it could be flagged as “pervasive.” The silent discard feature causes pervasive spam to bypass the spam folder entirely so that you’ll never see it.
The plugin previously had a relatively ineffective option that allowed site owners the ability to automatically discard spam on older posts. This didn’t do much to block the worst spam and users found it to be confusing.
Akismet 3.0 remembers your selections for this previous feature and applies them to the new silent discard feature. In most cases this means that the silent discard will be automatically turned on when you update the plugin. For users who are new to Akismet, the default setting is to store the pervasive spam in the spam folder for 15 days. The silent discard feature will need to be turned on from the plugin’s configuration page.
There are some very compelling reasons to turn this new feature on. When announcing the silent discard option, the folks at Akismet said that “enabling the feature can result in significant reductions in your storage and resource usage requirements.” This is especially true on sites that are always publishing new content. Silently discarding the most pervasive spam, instead of storing all of it for 15 days, frees up the storage and resources required to display and manage those spam comments in the admin.
Akismet has zapped more than 135 billion spam comments and track backs to date, and the service is getting smarter at defeating the worst spam. The most important spam-fighting feature of 3.0 is the ability to silently discard pervasive spam before it even has the chance to land on your doorstop and get logged in your database. Turning this option on is a no-brainer. If you haven’t yet updated your plugins or have been waiting to update to WordPress 3.9, Akismet 3.0′s silent discard feature is another reason to get moving on those updates.