Akismet is by far the most popular anti-spam plugin available for WordPress (not to mention one of the most popular plugins of any type), with well over 11 million downloads at the time of writing.
It is developed by the folks over at Automattic, and is completely free for personal use (and just $5 per month for commercial blogs). It is a titan – no other anti-spam plugin comes close to it in terms of number of downloads.
But there are alternatives. And if the huge disparity in number of downloads between All in One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO by Yoast is anything to judge by, the number of downloads a plugin attracts is not necessarily a fair reflection of its functionality.
With that said, is Akismet truly the best anti-spam solution for WordPress?
How Does Akismet Work?
Akismet was first released way back in 2005, and has been continuously developed over time in an effort to combat spam in the most effective way possible.
Every time a new comment, trackback or pingback is submitted to your site, Akismet grabs it (along with a whole host of related data), and carries out “hundreds” of tests to determine whether or not it is spam.
Akismet essentially has its finger on the pulse of the WordPress community, and as such, has an enormous amount of data which it can utilize to determine whether or not a comment is spam.
I was keen to learn more about Akismet’s inner workings, but unfortunately, the developers declined my request for an interview.
Does Akismet Work?
In theory, the process by which Akismet filters spam sounds impressive. And in fairness, it is. Akismet blocks almost every single spam comment that hits my blog. But there’s a problem – it can get a little overzealous.
In a 14 day period between 29th June and 13th July, Akismet blocked 653 spam comments on my blog. I checked through every single one, and found that of those comments, 5 were not spam – they were entirely genuine comments left by well-meaning readers.
To me, this represents a serious issue. My (admittedly brief) experiment demonstrated that 11 legitimate comments on average would be blocked by Akismet, per month. That’s a little under 10% of the total legitimate comments on my blog per month. That’s a hefty percentage.
Is There a Better Alternative?
The purpose of this post is not to bash Akismet – far from it. But it is not perfect, and I wanted to check if there was a better alternative.
So I went looking. The two alternatives that kept popping up were Growmap Anti Spambot (which is in fact something I had used previously), and Antispam Bee. I decided to test each in turn.
At a glance, Growmap looks like a great anti-spam solution. After all, it has an astonishing 4.9 rating on WordPress.org. However, it hasn’t been updated since November 2010, and in that time, has only attracted around 36,000 downloads.
The fact is, Growmap is great at doing one thing – blocking automated spam. As far as I can tell, it does a near-flawless job and preventing spambots from submitting comments.
However, it fails comprehensively on two fronts – trackbacks/pingbacks, and human spammers. Trackbacks/pingbacks are not handled at all by Growmap (you have to seek out another plugin to take care of that), and all human spammers have to do is check a box that asks if they are a spammer in order to get their post past the plugin. Unfortunately, human spammers are not the most honest of people.
Something I found out very quickly (literally within hours) after installing Growmap was that human spammers are rather prevalent. I had three spam comments before I could even draw breath. It soon became apparent that Growmap wasn’t going to get the job done.
Before this case study, I had not actually heard of Antispam Bee. However, it is a popular plugin, with nearly 250,000 downloads and a rating of 4.2 on WordPress.org.
To be quite frank, I don’t understand why. My experiment with Antispam Bee led to three spam comments slipping through the net within the first three days.
In short, it seems to be far less effective than Akismet.
Is Akismet Still King?
So Akismet isn’t perfect – we know that. However, the two main alternatives failed me comprehensively. It would seem that in order to protect myself from spam, I must accept that a percentage of my readers’ comments will never see the light of day.
But that is just the findings of one man – now I want to turn this over to you. What plugin do you use for spam protection? And what are your experiences with it?
Let us know in the comments section!
Creative Commons image courtesy of freezelight
This piece of writing is in fact a good one it assists new web viewers, who are wishing
Can you suggest a service that helps block spam accounts? My issue isn’t really spam comments. I use Askimet and just get hit constantly with fake user registrations that never comments or do anything. So I’m pretty certain they’re fake lol.
Have you checked out ZigTrap? At one point, I had three different plugins fighting spam but have since noticed performance drops. As a result, I’m trying to reduce to the bare minimum, coding my own php solutions. Spam, however … I’m really looking for something strong and trustworthy without the overzealous part.
Akismet is good but Growmap is totally useless. What other plugin do you recommend to stop comment spam effectively ?
Disable comment and use disqus is the best way i think…
I use disqus. Less headache for me. Some of them using Facebook comment.
good article.you suggest good anti spam plugin for wordpress.Its so useful information..thanx for this sharing.
There is new plugin, which can protect your website from all comments spam and fake registrations
WordPress websites get hundreds of thousands of irrelevant comments related to the blogs published. In order to control and keep an efficient eye on spam comments, WordPress Plugin repository contains a bundle of user-friendly and effective anti-spam plugins. These anti-spam plugins help you combat against all the irrelevant comments. I have selected five of the most important and user-friendly anti-spam plugins in this post: http://www.cloudways.com/blog/best-wordpress-anti-spam-plugins/
I’m quite new to blogging. I don’t yet understand whether posts which appear, with captions underneath: Not Spam, or Delete permanently, are safe to open or not? They may say your posts are very interesting and could go viral. Then a link for me to open and learn how to expand my blog’s scope. How can I know if they are genuine and to be followed up?? Also, if I open a link given and it is spam, what problem does it cause?
(Is this site still operating? The most recent post was in December, 2014)
We’re very much alive and kicking, thanks for asking 🙂
As a rule of thumb, if you don’t feel that the comment was written specifically for your post, mark it as spam and delete it.
The whole idea behind that spam comment is to make you click that link, so just don’t do it.
Another thing to note is that by putting a link to their site in your comment section, the spammer is increasing the footprint of his website – just like putting an ad on your website, but without you getting anything for it.
The comments themselves are safe to read.
I have just started my new website and within a few hours “BANG” spam comments.
I was looking for a paid type of comment plugin yet many of you talk highly of Akismet.
So you can guess what I will try first. 🙂
Thanks all for your input
Right now I’m using goodbye captcha and I can say that it’s really good. I’ve also used Akismet but I didn’t like it because it was slowing down my site.
Hi, was getting an increasing amount of spam emails each day, up to about 30. Installed 2 days ago Stop Spammers, which no one seems to have mentioned. Have not had one comment since, so am a bit concerned in case it is stopping “good’ emails. Has anyone tried Stop Spammers?
Have used and loved Akismet for years, it’s been great until lately, while still blocking hundreds of spam comments a day, still seeing an increase of trackbacks and human spam, ugh!
At present I am not using an antispam plugin. That is because at the moment my blog is still small and doesn’t get much spam. I usually get 1-2 every few days at most, so it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds or so to moderate them. Based on reading this post, I think I’ll continue that way at least unless it starts to get out of hand. I do have a math captcha plugin which has cut my spam by more than half, so that has proven useful, but I highly value the thoughts of each and every reader I have, so 10% of them being marked as spam is unacceptable, and to the person who said even more of them get completely removed and sent into the ether, never to be seen, that percentage may be even higher if this is true. For this reason, Akismet doesn’t sound like it is right for me. For now, I’ll stick to my current moderation. I have WordPress set where I only have to approve someone once, so if they leave valuable comments, they don’t have to be moderated every time, and that seems effective because now my repeat commenters are able to post without the need for moderation. If I determine this is being abused, I will take alternative action, but for now it is working. Thank you for the informative article and comparison of these antispam plugins.
Nice work Tom, thanks for sharing your investigations on this matter. I myself was trying to find something that would perhaps be better than Akismet, but based on your studies, looks like I’ll have to settle with Akismet
You’re welcome Darrel! 🙂
I use Akismet on all of my website, it’s one of the first plugins that I activate. It is a useful plugin.
For my spam protection, I use the plugin Akismet, which so far is doing pretty well.
Thanks for sharing Kojo!
“5 were not spam – they were entirely genuine comments left by well-meaning readers.” – You may not be aware of it – but these 5 of 633 (which, after all, would not be a high percentage and with a little further tewaking of the code, Akismet could get that rectified – IF they wanted to. The far greater problem are the legitimate comments YOU DO NOT EVEN SEE – Akismet suppresses a lot of comments that NEVER MAKE IT TO YOUR SPAM FOLDER!!! No one knows how many. However, I know a webmaster who ran tests and the result is frightening: it can be as high as 100% false “positives”, i.e. although a commenter has NEVER written one piece of spam comment for some reason not even known to Akismet (or they would at last answer to the allegations?!) he/she gets blocked FOREVER from even getting through to your spam folder! Isn’t that incredible? And doesn’t it border on libel?
I’m an author and once used Akismet to prevent spam in my professional blog. Unfortunately, Akismet support people told me that, since I use my blog to publicize my work, it has to be considered as Professional Use, so I couldn’t go on using Akismet for free.
Then I switched to Antispam Bee and can actually say it perfectly works. I have not so much traffic on my blog, but Antispam Bee was actually able to block some spam comments. I think it’s the best free alternative to Akismet, but I don’t know whether it will work on websites with a lot of traffic.
Thanks for sharing Gianluca!
ive noticed a huge increase in spam comments after installing CommentLuv 🙁 think ill give akismet a try, 300 spam comments a day is really getting tedious now… thanx for the heads up
Sorry to hear that! Hope that Askimet works for you!
Try Anti-spam plugin. It stops spam without captcha and without moderation queues.
I am use Akismet
Hi! My web guy installed Akismet as well as Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker. Do these both do the same thing? I’m having problems with my site… could these be conflicting with one another… if so, should I delete Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker?
I’m not familiar with the other plugin but it looks like it might be doing a similar job. I doubt there’s a conflict though. Perhaps deactivate it and see if the problems stop.
hey thanks for this great information. I think it’ll be useful for me
“Glad you found it useful John!”
Thanks for the info! I have a small blog and I get dozens of spams each week. I’ll try Akismet and see how it goes 🙂
You’re welcome Fernando! Absolutely, give it a try!
woa..:) thanks for your information man!!
A commercial solution is Simple Comments using the coupon code managewp for 20% off.
Abraham van der Linde
I always use Akismet. But lately I had a lot of problems of people using registration bots on my sites, unfortunately Akismet don’t stop them.
While Akismet is great for comment spammers (and it’s still my number one choice to handle spam comments), it’s totally a no-go for registrations. I’ve done some testing of different plugins to stop registration bots and came up with 4 plugins that totally stop the registration bots and comment spam bots.
These are Akismet, Bad Behavior, CommentLuv Premium, Stop Registration Spam.
Thanks for the suggestions Abraham 🙂
Akismet is only the hassle free way to fight spams.
Just wondering what you think of Simple Comments by Todd Lahman?
Yes! I don’t recommend akimset too. They charged me fees, because I had too many visitors+spam, they thought I am a business user, but I just had spam refferers….
Could you please remove my previous comment? At the very least could you delete the link to my site. It seems google thinks this is spam when, in fact, it was, and is, a legitimate comment on a decent site.
You may also try anti-spam plugin.
Anti-spam plugin blocks spam in comments automatically and without captcha.
I have been using AntiSpam Bee without issue. It has put a few real comments in the spam folder but I get a choice to check everything out. My traffic is still pretty low so maybe I would have issues with thousands of visitors to my electric lawn mower reviews but so far it works. What was your traffic level like during your test? That would help me be prepared.
I like the fact that I can approve a comment but delete the links they are trying to insert if they are just spammy links. If it goes to a good site I would approve a good comment with a link and leave the link. Hasn’t happened yet but maybe someday.
Informative post. I use Antispam Bee & Botblocker and works fine.
In the last few months Akismet has disappointed me big time. Every day now it is posting comments which are actually spam and holding back real comments. The problem is getting worse week by week. For some reason, Akismet is not working anywhere near as well as it use to and I am having to manually process things. Akismet may be popular but that does not mean it is the best solution. To me it looks like it is failing to keep uo-to-date with modern spamming techniques.
I’m trying to find a good anti-spam plugin that works. I have a new site and with Askimet, every single comment is going straight into spam. I’ve tried changing the settings, but no matter what I do, it’s not working for me… even after I check “not spam” – so I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong here.
When I deactivated, things were working fine, but I do need an anti-spam plugin.
I think the only effective way of dealing with human spammers is:
– to require user registration with email validation before comments. If someone registers and then posts spam, you can ban them, the IP address and email account they used. For them to spam you again, they’ll not only have to register again, but create a new email account just to post on your website. For most spammers, this is simply not worth it. And if someone is specifically, and manually targeting just your site for spam messages, thats not really a spammer, thats a hacker. Spamming is all about attacking the highest number of sites possible in the cheapest and fastest way.
– Log the IP adresses that the human spammers are using, and manually block these. Yes, it is more work, but if someone is going through all the extra effort and expense of manually posting spam on your site, the only way to effectively combat this is through some manual work of your own.
For all other automated spam ( which I’m guessing accounts for 99% of the spam out there ) I’d recommend Ghost Captcha for WordPress (http://pjtops.com/app/GhostCaptchaWP/). I built it, so I’m obviously bias, but all feedback is welcome.
I just migrated my small blog from Blogger to my own domain on WP. I’ve activated Akismet, obviously, and it does work. HOWEVER, what I have noticed is that while my traffic to my new blog site is the same as the old one, the sheer volume of spam is just insane.
On Blogger, Google has their spam filters, but they also had their version of CAPTCHA, which I activated. The results are that I only rarely saw a spam comment appear in the spam queue and none appear in the moderate queue.
For WP, I’m getting around 15 spam messages a day (and this is a small blog). Akismet is catching them all and sending it to the spam queue, but I’m finding that I miss not having to see and flush all this spam. Should this small blog grow, the problem will only get worse.
Any benefit to running, say, Akismet, and AntiSpam Bee at the same time? Would that help with the filtering, or does it create a conflict?
Yes that works well together.
I am using Akismet and Antispam Bee together. They work perfectly fine. The only problem they will give is if you activate Jetpack comments. You will have to deactivate Antispam Bee in that case.
Here is my experience with activating both the plugins along with Jetpack Comments:
Spam Free WordPress plugin works great. Good support, does the job, configures easily, takes care of all aspects.
What is the specific url for that plugin?
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/stop-spammer-registrations-plugin/ has worked well for me — for registrations and comments.
i am using spam free wordpress plugin and i never had anything leaked through, i used to get around 300 spam a day after installing it never got any and all of my readers comments get through. on our gaming website castleville game quests http://castlevillegamequests.com/ we use spam free plug in but was looking for something more better, but i don’t think i will find it, because i also look at the performance plug in, does it slow your site, does it have any strings left, so far didn’t found anything, might try these
First, I have to question your reasoning here. Why would you think that *ANY* plugin could ever stop human spammers? I really don’t think this is possible. That seems like a very unreasonable and arbitrary reason to reject plugins.
Second, I have been using Growmap for a long time now. I can’t remember the last time (if ever) that any spam got through. The problem with Akismet is that it lets them all in, then marks them as spam. You, the admin, have to go clean them out. With Growmap they never get in to begin with. This seems like a no-brainer to me.
Third, FYI, the Growmap plugin appears to have been updated on 9/1/2012.
Fourth, I recently turned off all WordPress commenting and shifted over to Facebook comments. Lots more interaction this way!
I would comment on this blog post, however there are chances, like you say, that it wont see the light of day 😀 anyway, ill give akismet a try as well.
If you want to stop spam in it’s tracks there is only one simple solution and that’s a honeypot. That’s where http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/invisible-captcha/ invisible captcha comes in.
My site and that of one of two of my clients were getting overrun with spam. After I installed this beauty it stopped completely!
Honeypot is exactly what Antispam Bee uses 😉
Yeah but does it so effective as Invisible Captcha 🙂 ?
Two potential problems with that plugin Martin:
Well the 100% part is obviously bogus but juts a way of attrackting folks. Although it hasn’t been updated it still works flawlesly.
All one needs to do, is install it activate it and your done. It really works perefectly. I got tons and tons of spam on my blog and after installing this all stopped. It didn’t interfere with ‘normal’ people placing comments it just stopped the spam. Since I installed it I have actually received only one spam comment. ONE! That’s amazing:-).
Sorry Tom, but AntispamBee is the best AntiSpam Plugin which is available for free! It takes a few days until it works correctly, but after those days it’s amazing. I would never change it.
No need to apologize for your opinion Franz. Didn’t work for me 🙂
Great review on anti-spam options for WordPress. I spend a lot of my time helping companies tackle social spam and agree with your initial instinct: losing 10% of real comments stinks and there is a way to ensure your readers see the light of day.
Up front: I work with Impermium, which provides real-time, enterprise-grade content cleaning for websites and social networks like Tumblr and Pinterest. We defend them against social spam, fake registrations, profanity, and other forms of abuse. Our system combines advanced technology and broad, Internet scale threat information to provide cost-effective, real-time protection for more than 300,000 sites across the globe.
The reality is no site is immune from social spam. And, the cost of social spam can be high. Late last year, spammers began posting malicious links and pornography to AOL’s TechCrunch TalkCrunch. An ad network threatened to stop ad service if AOL didn’t immediately resolve the issue. With brand reputation, page rank and significant revenue at stake, AOL considered several technology solutions, as well as CAPTCHA and other user-authentication tools.
To resolve their content issues, AOL found Impermium and was able to automatically wipe out a year’s worth of spam content in a day. Other wins included decreasing the estimated amount of internal budget dollars spent fighting social spam by 80 percent and leveraging Impermium’s real-time analysis engine, which uses machine learning and behavioral modeling, to detect abusive behavior with little interference to legitimate users.
What does this mean for your small to medium-sized company?
As your site grows (cause for celebration), bad guys will zero in and capitalize on your hard work (cause for an aspirin).
A higher performance paid service, however, could prevent those headaches. Like large companies, you can leverage advanced spam and profanity filtering together. This approach is critical as your company grows and your efforts scale to manage miscategorized comments.
If you’d like to learn more about our inner workings, let us know. We’re excited about how we can help improve user engagement and especially, prevent missed opportunities.
Great post Tom! I am an Akismet user myself, however, as I have been helping several individuals and non-profits learn about WordPress, some have concerns about paying for Akismet. So, I just tried AntiSpam Bee on one of my personal blogs for the past week. Though a few legitimate spam messages leaked through, they stayed only as *pending* so deleting them was not a problem. I don’t think a few messages leaking through is going to be a problem for too many people. So far, I’ve found it to be a viable alternative for Akismet. Just my .02cents!
First of all, non-commercial blogs and nonprofits don’t have to pay for Akismet.
Secondly, I agree that a few comments here and there isn’t an issue. But let’s say you only get 30 comments per week, and 3 spam comments slip through. If your blog grows and you’re then getting 300 comments, that’s 30 spam comments to deal with. Not so manageable now, right? 😉
It used to be that Akismet was free for non-profits, but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. The only free plan listed on their signup page is for personal sites. All others are paid. Furthermore, the support section of the website includes the following Q&A:
Can I get a non-profit/government/educational discount?
At this time, we don’t provide any type of special discounts.
Am I missing something?
No David, it looks like you are not…that comes as a surprise though. You would have thought that non-profit/charities would arguably be at least as “morally eligible” as personal sites.
I almost always use Akismet on all of my sites, it’s one of the first plugins that I activate (no need to install).
On one of the sites that I’ve set up the host did not allow me to connect to Akismet’s servers. After trying G.A.S.P and a few other anti-spam plugins I discovered BotBlocker when it was reviewed by WPMU.
I’ve been really happy with BotBlocker. It does not hinder users or bombard them with CAPTCHAS, math questions, passwords or extra input. This is because it uses a honey-pot method of tricking spammers to fill out fields that they do not need to and regular users cannot see. I have had no spam comments slip through. Plus it’s configurable and easy to set up.
Saying that, that website is not particularly high-traffic and does not get a lot of comments.
Did you not comment on a post of mine over at WPMU the other day? You’re getting around 😉
Interested by BotBlocker, but it looks like it doesn’t address the issue of human spammers, which makes it a no go for me.
Thanks for replying.
I know that BotBlocker does not stop human spammers or trackback spam, but if the majority of your spam is automated then this plugin would be perfect.
PS: I read and enjoy all of your posts at WPMU and ManageWP. Keep on blogging about WordPress!
Thanks, appreciate it 🙂
Regarding dealing with real life human spammers –
if you are waiting for a competing plugin whose developer is going to build the server-based infrastructure that Akismet has, and give it away for free, good luck with that…
Akismet only gives their service away free to personal bloggers (and even then asks for a fee).