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 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.
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)
“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 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.
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!)
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!!!
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!