The short answer is yes, it’s still free for personal use. However, over the past few weeks, it seems as though many people believe that the free use of Akismet has disappeared and it’s now only a paid service. So in order to understand where this line of thought is coming from, I decided to erase my Akismet key and start the process over as if it were just installed. When my API key was cleared, I clicked on the Get Your Key link from within the Akismet configuration editor. This redirects to http://akismet.com/wordpress/ where on that page, I can read information concerning how cool it will be to use Akismet. One of the first things that are pointed out is that it’s free for personal use while being a bargain for businesses with the following quote afterward:
We’re not trying to make a killing, but we still need to pay our bills.
This is where things get dicey. On the Akismet key signup page, I get to see three specific plans for the service. One for $5.00 a month, $50.00 a month and $100 per month. Below the three plans is the personal site option.
After clicking the personal site option, you’ll need to fill in your details such as a First name, last name, etc. What’s interesting is on this page, there is a slider that asks, What Is Akismet Worth To You? By default, it’s set to $3.00 per month equaling $36.00 per year. The slider can be set to $0.00 as well but then you’ll have to contend with the fact that you made the emoticon show a sad face. By the way, this is a nice touch as I can see some people willing to create a custom price point to match how they feel about Akismet on their site.
After going through the checkout process, the API key was sent to me via email and I was able to use Akismet for free thanks to the personal plan.
I’m happy to report that Akismet can still be used for free but it’s meant for personal sites. One of the biggest changes from a few years ago is that to get access to Akismet, you needed to sign up to WordPress.com, obtain an API key from them, place that API key within Akismet and enjoy the benefits of the service. Now, you must go through a checkout process while choosing a specific plan before you get access to an API key. While Akismet has always been Software as a Service while charging large sites money for anti spam protection, the recent changes have transformed the site and the service into more of a revenue stream for Automattic by opening up lower price points for individuals.
It’s not as if the free or personal option is hidden away on some unknown page within the sitemap which has me confused on why so many people are convinced that you must pay $5.00 to use the service. If anyone else can suggest to me why this line of thought has taken place, I’m interested in reading it in the comments.