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Free Akismet Alternatives

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UPDATED 13 May 2001: 15 Anti-Spam Plugins for WordPress via digwp.com

UPDATE 4 April 2011: Some other plugins suggested by commenters. Thanks for the feedback guys :)

Since I started with WordPress I have only used 1 plugin for combatting spam. And it’s the built-in plugin that comes with WordPress : Akismet. But lately, it has become harder and harder to use the plugin without paying. They have made it very difficult to get the free version up and running and more on that is described in this WPTavern post : Is Akismet Still Free?

In my personal opinion, it should be pulled from the WordPress code with as much force as possible! A WordPress newbie ‘trusts’ the core download and seeing that Akismet is part of the core, they will trust Akistmet too. They will think that this plugin is the ‘defacto’ way to destroy spam. That is what I thought too. I was wrong. And to top it all off, most people don’t know that Akismet also has some major privacy issues. Comment text, together with the IP and email address of the comment author are sent to the Akismet servers for analyzing. Some would say this is violating their privacy, even though it is needed in order to gain the power of group spam fighting (similar to how the Gmail spam filter works).

So I have decided to drop Akismet. Completely. From all my blogs and future client’s blogs.

So the search is on for some alternatives. And they must be free.

AntiSpamBee

Official Site | Plugin page on WordPress.org | Download

“AntispamBee protects blogs from digital rubbish. It is made up of sophisticated techniques and analyzes comments including pings. Also, for reasons of data privacy, the use of AntispamBee is a safe solution, as it is anonymous and registration-free.”

Delving into the details I wanted to know how it worked. Basically, the plugin hides the default comment textarea with CSS and creates a new textarea with a specific name. So if the old hidden textarea is filled in, spam ahoy! Very simple and clever idea. Read more here.

Here is a screenshot from their documentation page (in German) that compares it with Akismet:

As for me using it right now: I am a bit weary, as there are a couple comments about it not working in WP 3.1 – I will wait and see if the plugin author replies and fixes these ‘so-called’ issues, and then I will give it a bash.

Defensio

Official Site | Plugin page on WordPress.org | Download (v 2.6.1)

A valid alternative to Akismet might also be Defensio. They have a free option with a limit of 25,000 calls to the servers a month.

“Defensio is an advanced spam filtering web service that learns and adapts to your behaviors and those of your users. In addition to simple spam filtering, we also provide world-class malicious content detection, profanity filtering, URL categorization, script detection and much more.”

This is a high level overview of how it works:

If you have a problem with the privacy issues of Akismet as I mentioned above, then you will have the same issues with Defensio, as they use a similar technique of sending comments to their servers to work out if its spam.

Growmap Anti-Spambot Plugin (GASP)

Official SitePlugin page on WordPress.orgDownload (v 1.1)

“Defeat automated spambots by adding a client side generated checkbox asking the comment author to confirm that they are not a spammer.”

GASP seems to be gaining some traction in the fight against spam with many testimonials. It also uses a very simple approach, by including a client side generated checkbox to the comment form. You can also see it in use on themergency.com in the comments below.

Bad Behavior

Official SitePlugin page on WordPress.orgDownload (2.0.42)

“Bad Behavior also transcends other link spam solutions by working in a completely different, unique way. Instead of merely looking at the content of potential spam, Bad Behavior analyzes the delivery method as well as the software the spammer is using. In this way, Bad Behavior can stop spam attacks even when nobody has ever seen the particular spam before.”

This is a very interesting one, as spammers get blocked from your site completely. They do recommend that you use this in conjunction with another spam prevention service, so that doesn’t give me much faith. Although it looks good, I want an Akismet alternative, not something to use alongside Akismet.

TypePad AntiSpam

UPDATE 4 Apr 2011 : The company behind TypePad Antispam (Six Apart) has been acquired by another company and no longer seems to update this plugin (last update : 2008!)

Official Site | Plugin page on WordPress.org | Download | Get API Key

TypePad AntiSpam is a powerful and effective way to block spam on your WordPress blog. The service is free to anyone who wants to use it for both personal and business use, regardless of how many comments you receive.

Six Apart have created a WordPress plugin that integrates with their spam blocking service. It seems the code works the same way as Akismet, but they say it’s a totally free service no matter how many comments your blog gets. Good news? But why is the plugin not being actively updated? They say it works on WP 2.3, 2.5 and 2.7. What about 3.1!!!

Sblam!

Official Site (polish) | WordPress plugin (polish) | Download

A free and open source project to help fight the war against spam. This is a stand-alone PHP script but a WordPress plugin has also been created, although it doesn’t seem to be in the WordPress plugin repo?

What do you use?

Please share your experience in the comments below. If you have found a gem spam buster, share it please!

Future Reading

27 comments
tellmarsha
tellmarsha

Thank you so very much. I was just on the Akismit site and did not like the high price. Right away I found your site and have found Growmap as one of the Wordpress plugins.

WordPressians
WordPressians

Thank you for those alternative, but akismet is really a unique plugin. What do you think?

JamesW
JamesW

thank you for the list, do you know maybe what is best alternatives for spam comments that are some kind of facebook profile. I'm getting around 40 of these a day.

KeyCAPTCHA
KeyCAPTCHA

KeyCAPTCHA does not collect visitors’ private information.

Looks like that these groundless accusations are planned competitors’ action against KeyCAPTCHA which IP-address blacklisted and banned our accounts by SpamHaus, Google, Joomla, Twitter and other online services.
We never use spambots for marketing our antispam services.

That is why we are changing the TOS of our paid service “Personolized CAPTCHA” without rush. We are going to launch our “Personolized CAPTCHA” in June

If you find groundless accusations like these please contact us via KeyCAPTCHA website

Ivan Bayross
Ivan Bayross

I really found this post valuable. I've been reading on the Internet trying to find alternatives to akismet but have not been happy with what I've found, until I read this.

Thank you. Appreciate this.

Ivan Bayross

Stargazer
Stargazer

Currently I am using my own Plugin WP-BlackCheck to defeat the Spam wave. Akismet got dropped today. We'll see how things develop...

Scot Herrick
Scot Herrick

There is ONLY one answer for the spam plugin and that is: WP-Spamfree. I've used it for three years and I NEVER see spam (unless generated by a real human...). I've tried Defensio, tried math, tried...none come anything close to this plugin. And, by the way, free. It was created by a company getting rid of spam e-mails and this converted over.

Web site to download (not via WP menu to add plugins):

http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/library/wp-spamfree/

cd krall
cd krall

Spam Karma and Bad Behavior, all you need, install and forget about it. Using SK forever, now OSS on Google Code.

Boomboom
Boomboom

Thanks for the links. I am trying Defensio now and it looks same as Akismet. Lets see how effective it is in the next few days.

SK
SK

Six Apart no longer exists, the company is now part of Say Media. I doubt we will see a new version of TypePad AntiSpam. Also, it is essentially based on Akismet, it just does a little extra.

If you are going to use that one, you might as well use Akismet.

I've also had luck with Conditional Captcha.

Ryan Cunningham
Ryan Cunningham

So just curious. I don't want to go through each one of the mentioned spam blockers, which one do you use or recommend most?

admin
admin

thanks for sharing your findings guys :) i have updated the post and included links to the plugin pages on WordPress.org

Felix Pleșoianu
Felix Pleșoianu

I use Pti's Text-Math Antispam, and yes, that's a captcha system -- the arithmetic-based kind, which I know from experience to be very effective. I still have to skim the spam folder, as pingbacks are caught pretty much by definition. And I agree with curtismchale above, but I just couldn't find a better solution back then. So thanks for the round-up -- I'm going to try Antispambee.

Erinmac
Erinmac

I've been using Bad Behavior along side of Akismet and since I put BB on, I haven't had anything reach Akismet yet...the Bad Behavior has captured the spam bots before it gets anywhere else. It also has it's own dashboard so you can see what it's blocked and blacklisted etc etc. I don't know how well it works as I've only had it a short while, but so far it's worked GREAT for me.

Chris Cree
Chris Cree

I looked into this too after they moved the API key registration off of WP.com over to the Akismet site. I think Defensio is the best all-in-one solution alternative out there right now. Beyond that you pretty much have to mix and match.

A couple other plugins that can help, especially with automated spam are the Cookies for Comments plugin and Simple Trackback Validation. With those two plugins installed I saw a dramatic reduction in the number of comments that had to be analyzed by Defensio.

curtismchale
curtismchale

If Automatic makes it impossible to use Akismet without paying it should be removed from the WordPress package totally. In fact I believe they've removed a number of other plugins from the repository entirely because they were 100% paid or so reduced in functionality that they were useless without paying. It will be interesting to see long term if WordPress is really an Open Source project outside of Automatic or if it's really just their project that they like to call 'Open Source.'

Ahmad
Ahmad

Really good post. I'm always find the alternative to akismet because i have to pay for akismet. My blog only receive about 50 comment a day... not so much to pay..
Thank you for sharing this stat...

Naptunian
Naptunian

Hmmm. I didn't even know it was pay. Akismet on pixelpost did a poor job of capturing spam.

It seems to work well with disqus though.

vgv8
vgv8

Use free KeyCAPTCHA and you will not need any other antispam measures, including moderation, managing spam, since it stops spam bots completely (no bot ever passed KeyCAPTCHA).
It blocks bots instead of meddling with their spam feeds eventually helping criminals (for example, to discredit or blacklist someone's competitors).

Available in a dozen of languages and customizable for new ones.

Has plugins for latest versions of (with backward compatibility for any previous versions) most major PHP5 CMSs:
- vBulletin,
- WordPress/BuddyPress,
- phpBB,
- IPB,
- Drupal,
- Joomla,
- others

One can even create its own captchas with online designer at keycaptcha.com

Adam W. Warner
Adam W. Warner

Great article as I too read that post on wptavern and have been concerned ever since. I've been using the same Akismet api key since they were created and I've been using my own on most of the client sites I've created within the last 6-8 years!

I know I need an alternative soon and several of the ones you've listed I've never tried before.

Great stuff:)

p.s. I just almost hit "send" before clicking the checkbox. Might be better to place this just above the send button (probably controlled by the plugin I know, but I'm just saying...)

admin
admin

thanks for the update on Six Apart - I will update the post

admin
admin

i use GASP at the moment

curtismchale
curtismchale

The problem with any type of CAPTCHA protection is that we push our problem (dealing with spam comments) on to our users. Spam isn't our commenter's problem it's ours so let's not make things harder for them. If I had a form that we couldn't kill spam on without CAPTCHA I'd do it but it would be the last resort since I think it's just the lazy option.

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