Oli Dale of WPLift, decided to leave comments open while having Akismet be the only anti-spam measure used. The result is 8,000 comments, most of which are spammy in nature. He sifted through 8,000 comments and published the results where he outlines the various techniques spammers are using to try to get past the filters.
One of the things Dale noticed was the amount of pingback/trackback spam the site received. He decided to disable the feature on past and future posts. He’s not the first to disable pingbacks and trackbacks. Several sites are turning the feature off since their usefulness has steadily declined and in some cases, can be used to generate a Distributed Denial of Service attack. Earlier this year however, updates to Akismet were added to help prevent this type of attack from occurring.
The results of his assessment are not surprising, especially to those who administer their spam queue on a daily basis. At the Tavern, we use Akismet while occasionally using the Cookies For Comments plugin. Although Cookies for Comments has done a fantastic job of thwarting spam comments before they reach Akismet, some visitors have reported that they are unable to leave comments. Despite it being disabled for two months, I haven’t noticed an influx of spam into the queue.
If managing the queue is one of your biggest concerns or time sucks, consider turning on the silent discard feature within Akismet. Not only does this feature save you time, the folks at Akismet said that “enabling the feature can result in significant reductions in your storage and resource usage requirements.”
The longer I administer the Tavern, the more aggressive I become with approving comments. A few years ago, I might have approved comments with legitimate looking Gravatars, names, and URLs that say ‘Great Job‘ or ‘Awesome list of themes‘. Now, I send them to the trash without even thinking about it.
Ultimately, the last line of defense for spam comments is you, or the person administering your website. Despite Akismet’s algorithms and its large user base, it’s not perfect and will likely always need the human element. By knowing what to look for and setting up your system to automatically discard comment spam, your site will be in a better position to battle against spammers, leaving you with more time to engage with your audience.