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Stop Spam Comments in WordPress Blog

Antispam Bee: An Effective Alternative to Akismet

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For many years Akismet has been the built-in anti-spam solution for WordPress. The plugin is — besides Matt Mullenweg’s Hello Dolly — the only one bundled together with every WordPress install. But is it really the best solution to fight against spam? Let me introduce you to Antispam Bee, a powerful alternative to Akismet.

Ever since the invention of email there have been spam messages. It’s estimated that around 99% of all emails nowadays are spam. And ever since the invention of blog comments there has been comment spam. To prevent these types of comments, Matt Mullenweg and his team at Automattic launched Akismet (“Automattic Kismet”) in 2005.

The Most Successful Plugin Ever

The service filters link spam from blog comments by combining information about spam captured on all participating blogs, and then using those spam rules to block future spam.

Akismet WordPress Plugin Logo

Akismet is the most successful WordPress plugin to date.

To date, Akismet has kept 200 billion pieces of spam off the web, that’s an average of about 7.5 million per hour.

Because Akismet comes pre-installed with WordPress and the service is free for personal blogs, there is a huge user base behind the service. No wonder the plugin has been downloaded over 25 million times. And with every new blog they get better at what they’re doing.

Akismet’s Disadvantages

I wouldn’t be writing this post if there weren’t some bad things about Akismet as well.

First and foremost, there’s almost an obligation to use Akismet. Being bundled with WordPress means that new users don’t even look for another anti-spam solution. Perhaps most don’t even know that there are alternatives out there. Also, the tight integration with Jetpack forces you into Automattic’s huge ecosystem.

Second, there are many privacy concerns about Akismet. Each comment that is written on your blog gets sent to some third-party servers to check against spam. You have no control about what data is being sent and you can’t disable that because the service obviously wouldn’t work without it.

In Germany it is even forbidden by law to send the commenter’s data (including his IP address) over sea without letting them know.

Here Comes The Bee

Over the years there have been many alternatives to Akismet. Whether you’re looking for similar services, CAPTCHAs or some JavaScript hacks — there’s probably a plugin for that.

Antispam Bee WordPress Plugin

The Antispam Bee fights against spam comments without any concerns.

Antispam Bee is one of the biggest Akismet competitors in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, with almost 1 million downloads so far. In my opinion it’s also the most powerful alternative as the freely available plugin uses many different techniques to identify spam messages. For example:

  • Marking BB Code as spam
  • Usage of local and external spam databases
  • Block comments written in other languages
  • Ignore trackbacks/pingbacks
  • Block visitors from specific countries
  • Logging spammers for usage with Fail2Ban
  • Mixing some comment form input fields to trick out bots

The plugin author, Sergej Müller, is German, and because of the strict privacy laws he knows how important this topic is. That’s why the plugin doesn’t store anything on other servers and calling external spam databases can be disabled in the options.

One drawback of Antispam Bee — and the reason why it hasn’t even more downloads — is that its documentation is available in German only and support is limited. This may sound crazy, but if Müller would translate it he wouldn’t have time to handle all support requests. After all it’s a free plugin maintained by a single person. Don’t worry though, the plugin option descriptions are properly written in English. And if you like the plugin, you should consider donating a cup of coffee to the author.

Summary

While Akismet is a really powerful plugin that detects around 99.9% of spam comments, there are multiple reasons against using it at all.

If you want to use a solution that doesn’t save your visitor’s data on some foreign servers, Antispam Bee is your plugin of choice. It is free, robust and very reliable.

Wordpress Plugin Recommendations

My Top 10 WordPress Plugins

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I get a lot of questions about plugins. What are they? How do they work? Why doesn’t this one work? Which one will do [insert very specific action]? Since you are all quite interested in plugins, I thought I’d make a LIST of all my favourite plugins—because who doesn’t like lists! Here they are:

  1. Updraft Plus: in my humble opinion, the most important plugin you’ll ever install. Run scheduled full and database-only backups of your website, send it to your remote storage, migrate to a new server, and/or restore seamlessly. It’s awesome. And imperative.
  2. AntiSpam Bee: A little known FREE alternative to Akismet. You can read my reasons for going against the popular choice on this point, if you want to know the details.
  3. Sucuri: Best WordPress security software that I have found yet. One-click hardening, remote malware scanning, and email alerts, to name a few of the many spectacular features of this plugin. Worth every penny.
  4. WordPress SEO by Yoast: FREE! and awesome SEO plugin by Yoast. I super love this plugin and use it (and the previous three) on all my sites.
  5. Open external links in a new window: because you want to give folks valuable links to resources outside of your website, right? Sharing is caring but not at the expense of loosing fans.
  6. Google Analytics Dashboard: See a quick overview of your website statistics from your dashboard. How cool is that?
  7. Regenerate Thumbnails: for those times when you change your theme and/or media sizes. Totally takes care of your image size for you. Awesome!
  8. SeedProd Coming Soon Pro: Simply and beautifully put your site into maintenance mode while applying updates, etc, without loosing site conversions! Create custom branded and designed splash pages that connect to AWebber, MailChimp, etc while you work. Also plays nice with search engines (read: Google). Love it.
  9. nrelate Related Content: Keep your blog readers happily reading down the bunny trails of your site with this related content plugin. Oh, and it’s really pretty & clean, too.
  10. Opt-in skin: When you want your opt-in forms to work harder, split test designs with this plugin!

Whew! That’s my list and I’m sticking to it (well, at least for now until I find something else new and shiny…)!