The GASP/Akismet Experiment

It’s not often I do an experiment based on a post I read on another blog but I decided it was time to give one a shot. In this case it was based on a post that our friend Ileane wrote (yes, she actually does sometimes write posts on here blog lol) titled 5 Popular WordPress Plugins You Need to Ditch Now! One of the plugins she talked about ditching was Akismet, which I’ve always kind of had a love affair with, and thus I had to confront her, nicely of course, about the recommendation.

Has the NSA spying gone too far?
greg lilly via Compfight

(Growmap Anti-Spybot Plugin) would get the whole job done without Akismet help. It was developed by Andy Bailey of CommentLuv fame who, interestingly enough, said in an interview I did with him in 2009 that most plugin developers shouldn’t start off by trying to go after Akismet, and years later that’s exactly what he did. 🙂 I wasn’t really sure about it, but I told her I was going to experiment and write about it; this is that post.

A brief bit of history for the uninitiated. There have been a lot of people that have complained that Akismet does two negative things. It can put people on a negative list and thus always have every post of theirs showing up in spam or even being deleted before it ever reaches the spam filter. I’ve always said I had never noticed it and thus it didn’t impact me, but then Gail Gardner of Growmap did an extensive test last year on it and found that some of these issues might be true.

I still dismissed it because Akismet has always done a premium job for me, so it seemed. But I was compelled to do this experiment, and here’s what I’ve kind of come up with.

First, this week I’ve had less spam showing up in my spam filter than ever before. That’s both a good and bad thing mentally because often I had legitimate comments showing up in the spam filter, and over the past week I’ve only had one show up. I don’t know if this means it’s deleting legitimate people who it thinks is a spambot or if this week most of the people that comment have gotten it right.

Second, once I started the experiment I checked the box to allow trackbacks because I wanted to see how it handled them. I did get a lot of those in two days showing up in the spam filter, but not a single legitimate trackback so I turned it back off quickly enough. No trackbacks since.

Third, let me mention the spam filter. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I turned off Akismet and spam came in, but bad messages will still go to the spam filter, so that’s a good thing.

Fourth, if you saw my post about my comments problem you’ll see that I emptied a large folder through PhpMyAdmin that was holding all these statistics from my Count Per Day plugin, which I’ve also inactivated. When I went back I noticed my second largest file was something called wp_commentmeta, and it turns out that’s the file of everything that Akismet collects on comments it’s passed through and denied. Supposedly the WordPress program is supposed to empty that sucker here and there, but mine had never emptied over the years. Since I’d inactivated the plugin I was also able to empty that folder, and now I have so much capacity I feel like I need to start writing more. lol Yes, you can empty that folder safely, even if you’re still using it. And it seems there’s no files being created or filled up by GASP (which I’m still trying to figure out how I got ranked #1 on Google for ‘GASP anti-spybot’).

In my opinion, the GASP plugin has provided some peace overall to this blog, and that’s not a bad thing. I think I’m going to keep things as they are until I see there’s a reason to activate Akismet again, which I’m kind of doubting. And I’m going to do it on my other blogs as well. See, I can learn something from others. lol
 

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Why You Need A Comment Policy

You know, ever since I added the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin a few weeks ago, the amount of spam this blog was getting dropped a lot. However, it hasn’t killed spam entirely. What seems to be coming now is a lot of one line messages that read like spam, and thus I treat them like spam. I figure that some of it are people who are thinking that they can just write any ol’ thing and I’ll let it pass; nope. However, I’m thinking some of it is automated to some degree; I just don’t know how they’re doing it.

I said I treated one line messages like spam; that’s from people who haven’t shown that they’re legitimate commenters on the blog yet. I have that in my comment policy, which is not only at the very top of this blog but listed right above the comment box on every single post. People who comment on blogs a lot and are going to write authentic comments definitely don’t have to worry about it, but for the others, I have no idea if they’re ever really coming back, so I don’t feel the same kind of loyalty to them.

I think it’s important to have a comment policy so people who come to your blog know what you expect. For instance, I really only have a couple of things in my comment policy. The first is that I need a legitimate name to call you. If you write a post and your name is a keyword phrase, but it’s not a bad comment, I reduce it all to the initials on the post. It looks ridiculous, but so be it. And I’ll refer to you either by those initials or by the first name in the email address if one is there. I stated the reason a long time ago in my post against fake commenter names. I don’t mind nicknames because it’s still something you may be known as.

The second is of course the one-line rule. I think that’s fair. After all, leaving a comment that says “nice post; I learned a lot” and nothing else could apply to almost anything. It doesn’t further the discussion and, well, just looks spammy, which it probably is. The big boys, who don’t moderate their comments, can play with that one; since I give dofollow links, I’ll handle it another way.

Anyway, if you expect certain things from people, you should let them know up front so there’s no surprise if you do something with their comment later on. Now that I think about it, I need to modify mine just a little bit more.

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