Mollom – The Akismet Alternative?

Mollom LogoIf we were playing a game of Family Feud and they asked the question, What word comes to mind when you hear about WordPress and Spam? I bet Akismet would be the top answer. However, Akismet is not for everyone. There are alternatives and today, I’m happy to report that one of those alternatives has a fresh new plugin for WordPress built from the ground up. The service is called Mollom. Mollom is a service managed by Acquia, a commercial open source software company providing products, services, and technical support for the open source Drupal social publishing system.

The service works in a similar fashion to Akismet in that it scans messages such as comments and determines one of three things. The message is bad, the message is good or sometimes, Mollom is unsure. When Mollom is unsure of a message, it presents a CAPTCHA to the user and if they pass, the comment gets pushed into the moderation queue, if they fail, the message is automatically deleted. Bryan House of Acquia does a better job of explaining the process.

The system is built around the Software As a Service concept meaning you can use it on Drupal, WordPress, and more platforms in the future. However, I think one of the coolest features of Mollom is their Content Moderation Platform. Using their CMP, you can moderate multiple websites on different platforms from a single location.

While both Akismet and Mollom offer paid/free plans, Mollom’s plans are a bit more complicated to make sense of because of the additional features their service provides, such as the Content Moderation Platform.

Mollom Stats

I’m going to place the WPTavern site on the free Mollom plan and give the service a test run for a week or two. Once the test is over, I’ll report back my findings. I’d love to hear from anyone who is either already running Mollom in place of Akismet or will be joining me in testing out the service on their own site.

By the way, is comment spam synonymous with the colors green, black, and blue?


20 responses to “Mollom – The Akismet Alternative?”

  1. @Jan Reimers – Per their website.

    Websites using Mollom send data they want checked to, and Mollom replies with either a spam or ham classification. If Mollom is not certain, it will return an “unsure,” typically prompting websites to ask Mollom’s CAPTCHA server for an audio or visual CAPTCHA challenge to present to the user.

    It certainly seems that way.

  2. @Jeffro – I’ve been using Mollom on Drupal for years. Its conditional captcha is generally quite simple for a real human. I definitely find it easier to read than reCaptcha text.

    Yes, Mollom sends data back to the mothership for filtering. I have no idea what the legal implications are of that in various jurisdictions.

    (No affiliation with Mollom or Acquia; just a long-time user of the free plan on my blog. Mollom is the de-facto standard for a large part of the Drupal world.)

  3. @Marcus W – Unlikely, since the bulk of spam comes from outside Germany anyway – I’ve never had a German language spam or one which originated in Germany – and much of the flow of mails goes over third countries anyway. If there was such a restriction Akismet would know about it and the software wouldn’t be offered with the German-language version of WordPress.

  4. @Jan Reimers – Thanks for that, it certainly hasn’t been well publicized! However, I suspect that a simple indication in the Disclaimer section of most WordPress – or Akismet-enabled – blogs should be enough since the bulk of mail coming in, as spam, is from overseas anyway and gets dumped very quickly and other commenters are opting-in, effectively, by entering their information voluntarily. Including the Datenschutz wording, in German, would be a waste of time for anyone whose blog – as mine – is in English and aimed at the English-speaking Internet user.

  5. Regarding the data policies, I was configuring the Mollom plugin today and noticed an option called Privacy Policy Link. This is the text for that option: Displays a link to the recommended privacy policy on on all protected forms. When disabling this option, you are required to inform visitors about data privacy through other means, as stated in the terms of service. I think this solves the problem and is similar to using Akismet with a personal data policy at least alerting visitors of the types of data transmitted.

  6. @Jeffro hit the nail – the Mollom service is bound to very strict Belgian/European data privacy policies.

    This is why the Mollom plugin suggests to output a corresponding notice (and link) on protected forms by default, so as to inform and educate users about the privacy of their data, as required by (globally leading) European data privacy laws.
    (The option can be disabled.)

    It’s not clear why other plugins and services (like Akismet, but also Woopra, Google Analytics, etc) are not educating end-users (nor the web site administrator) about data privacy; that should not be an afterthought, as their primary purpose is to process user data.

    Exposing this notice by default and even providing a configuration option appears a bit weird and excessive at first sight – but it feels good that Mollom takes this seriously.

  7. @Jeffro, any chance for providing a list of installed plugins on WPTavern here? :)

    I’d like to find out which other plugin conflicts and whether we can fix that plugin, or include a dirty stop-gap fix in the Mollom plugin (if necessary).

  8. I’ve had to temporarily disable the Mollom plugin because it was causing an issue with image verification when there was no way to actually verify the image. I’m trying to determine if it’s a comment plugin conflict or something else. However, Akismet works just fine and has with all the plugins I use.

    @sun – I use the following plugins to enhance my comment form. Basic Comment Quicktags, Filosofo Comments Preview, Simple Comment Editing, Subscribe To Comments, and one small snippet of custom code to provide the ability to reply to comments while automatically linking the replies together.


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