Using Akismet to Kill Spam

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Spam is a problem on any blogging platform, but can be a major concern for WordPress blogs. Blog spam occurs when spammers try to slip links or other content onto a blog. With WordPress, most of the time, bloggers configure their blogs so only commenters who have been approved previously are unmoderated.

Therefore, if a spammer gets a blogger to approve a spam comment, the spammer might be able to put anything he wants onto his blog in the future. While the spammer might gain short-term benefits from having links, especially on popular sites, back to nefarious Web sites he wants to move up in search engine rankings, he quickly loses that benefit when the search engines de-list the nefarious Web site for spamming. It is a constant war that anyone who has been in the blog world long enough is well aware of.

A few years ago, Akismet was released to the WordPress community. Akismet is a Web application with a WordPress plugin by the same name that identifies and blocks comment spam on blogs. The WordPress plugin, which is under the General Public License, is bundled with WordPress and only has to be activated. It is free for personal use, and has a minimal fee for commercial use.

The Askimet plugin can also be downloaded from the WordPress plugin repository at http://wordpress.

org/extend/plugins/akismet/. It is also bundled with WordPress. ■

The server side of Akismet is not open source and is a hosted service run by Automattic. It handles all the processing of comments and determines if a comment is spam or not.

The process of determining spam on the client side is straightforward. A comment is submitted to a blog (client). Before adding the comment to the database, it is sent to Akismet for processing. After determining if a comment is spam or not, Akismet sends a response of ham or spam back to the client. Ham comments are comments that seem to be okay, while spam comments, naturally, are those deemed to be spam.

Based on the response, the client either marks the comment as spam and, in the case of WordPress, assigns a comment status of "spam" or moves the comment to the approved list (if the commenter has commented before and WordPress recognizes it) or the moderation queue (if the commenter is a first-time commenter).

The Akismet API is a Representational State Transfer (RESTful) API. REST calls are made over standard Web protocols, also known as HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol). Almost all HTTP calls with the Akismet API are made to a subdomain generated from your WordPress API key. For example, if you have API key abcde12345, Akismet API calls will be made to http://abcde1234 5. Only the verify-key method does not require an API key subdomain.


All requests from Askimet are made using the POST method. ■

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