Keeping Blog Spam At Bay (Akismet and WordPress)
Over at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield had a nice little piece about a spammer claiming to go by the name of Tom Sanders. “Tom,” it seems, wants Greenfield to pay him money to leave blog comment spam. Greenfield — noting that he got 500 comment spams overnight — has some fun with this pathetic excuse for a human.
And so I wondered, how much blog comment spam do I get? I’ve had spam problems before, most irritatingly from law firms because they should know better than to outsource their marketing since it’s tied to ethics. But I don’t get as much as I used to.
Why has the problem seemed to diminish for me? After I changed over to WordPress from Blogger a year ago, my techie guy installed a widget called Akismet. Not only does it do a great job keeping out the spam — I just checked and saw 23,000+ were blocked in the last 60 days — but it has a great feature that I use that Blogger didn’t have when I left it.
And that feature is that, when spam comes through, I get the pleasure of marking it as spam. And Akismet learns from it. The info is sent to its central computer brain, and applies it to its database. In other words, when the spam comes in I get the satisfaction of knowing I am helping to block that loser from getting spam through to others. It is, as far as I can tell, the only good part about spam; I get to give the spammer an electronic kick in the shins.
Here is a little bit more about how it works:
When comments are submitted to your blog, the Akismet plugin analyses them, consults the Akismet servers, and if the comment is identified as spam, it moves the comment to your spam section. The comments remain there so that you can review them if you wish. If you do nothing, Akismet will delete it in 15 days, but if you review a comment and decide that it is not spam, when you click the not spam link, this sends details about the comment to the Akismet servers so that they can learn from your decisions. As more users put the service on their blogs, it gets better and better at identifying what is spam from what is not. Imagine the power behind that, and how much it could add to email spam suppression if they could apply that to email!
Of course, there is at least one law professor that actually likes spam. Go figure. I assume it’s because no one reads the blog and pays it much attention. So go follow Greenfield’s link and be sure to let said blogger know that, in the wise words of so many spammers: Your site is very useful. I will bookmark it for later use. Or, you can use the elegant prose of this literary giant: