What WPLift Learned From Not Moderating Comments

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.

Average Amount Of Spam Caught By Akismet Every Hour
Average Amount Of Spam Caught By Akismet Every Hour

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.”

akismet discard spam feature

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.


7 responses to “What WPLift Learned From Not Moderating Comments”

  1. Great Job ! ^^

    Actually, though certainly not in the same proportions as you do, I also have a lot of spam to fight. I finally decided to abandon Akismet, which was not as powerful blocking spams as Antispam Bee. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I blog in French, I don’t know.

    Nevertheless, AntispamBee is efficient enough for me to leave comments open have a very few spams that break through, while have a “do follow seo blog with Keyword Luv” which is a honey beacon for spammers.

    I also had to desactivate the pingbacks / trackbacks and feel sorry about that : it’s kind of unfair for the people doing genuine links, also it prevents my readers from getting informed about potentially interesting posts.

  2. “Great post”, Jeff :)

    I scan through all the comments every month including spammed ones, so I usually don’t have a lot of work.

    Spammers are becoming more persistent. I believe Disqus or Livefyre (Oli mentioned) can slow them down, because there’s no website/URL field for them to exploit.

  3. I use WPMU’s “Comment Indexer” to compile all the recent comments on my multi-site installation. I set up a private page and use the “Custom Sidebars Free” plugin to place the “Recent Global Comments Widget” on that private page.

    Every morning I take a quick look at my private page, scan down the list of comments, right-clicking the spammy-looking ones to open in a new tab. Then, I edit them to “spam” status.

    As part of a first-thing-in-the-work-day routine, it does a good job of keeping the cruft from appearing on any public pages.

  4. I had noticed that blogs/sites i worked with using Swedish, rarely need any other plugin than Akismet. Some of the sites has a lot of traffic. While on english and mandarin based blogs, i switched over to Disqus (actually i’m going that way with the just mentioned swedish blogs. Mostly for the simplicity) because the spam amount was overwhelming, even if Akismet in combination with other plugins did a good job.

    I haven’t seen a decline of comments with Disqus for the sole reason that the blog is using Disqus.

    But i have seen stagnation in the number of user comments in the Swedish blogsphere (the only ones keeping up ”business as usual” is techblogs). The trend the last years is that most comments is now over at Facebook. I think this is somewhat a global trend.

    You share your blog post on Facebook, and then people comment on that post at Facebook, and not the blog itself. That’s why i’m trying to look for a solution to show the same Facebook comments for that post at both Facebook and the blog. This while keeping Disqus or the normal commenting system.

    The problem with this is that comments could end up in two places, and the Facebook ones are not aware of the others. Of course you could use Facebook comments, but that’s not always and option of numerous reasons.


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