Akismet: Heading Toward Failure?

Akismet: Heading Toward Failure?

The Akismet system has been protecting WordPress bloggers for a while now from comment and trackback spammers. It was a great system, protecting even small blogs from 1000’s of spam comments. The system depends heavily upon users marking these comments/trackbacks as spam and reporting them back to Akismet as such via the WordPress plugin. This means that many innocent bloggers are “false positives” in the Akismet system due to either malicious or ignorant behavior on the part of other bloggers.

I Got Tagged By Akismet

I got hung out to dryOn Friday, I noticed that comment posts I entered at several sites I visit regularly weren’t showing up. Normally, they would show up right after I posted the comment. The first time, I thought, “Well, that’s strange. Maybe they changed their moderation rules.” The second time, I figured something weird was up. So I used the contact form for that blog and it returned the error message that I was flagged as Akismet spam!

So, I went to the Akismet page and filled in their contact form asking for them to correct the problem. Will they correct it? I don’t know. They don’t make it very clear what you should do in a situation like this. Their contact form is very generic and doesn’t allow you to describe the problem or get priority consideration for them to correct their mistake. However, at least they’re smart enough to know that their system does generate false positives so they just use a math question verification system on the contact form.

More False Positives By Akismet

I don’t know what happenedIt’s not just me. Many bloggers are being marked incorrectly as ’spammers’ by people who don’t like them for one reason or another or who’re simply ignorant and incorrectly marking any and all trackbacks as spam. I’ve had a number of people who’ve posted comments here on OpTempo have false positives in the Akismet filter. And I’ve also found a number of blog posts describing this situation.

Vic, of Blogger Unleashed has been marked this way, apparently more than once. He can be quite opinionated and several people have ‘rewarded’ his outspoken behavior by marking his legitimate comment posts as spam. Since both he and I were recently involved in a difference of opinion with a particular blogger so we were wondering if this wasn’t the source of my problem. To update, it wasn’t, but being banned like this makes you a bit on the paranoid side, wondering who you might have unintentionally upset.

Over at The Great Startup Game, they report their experiences with this situation in this post: Automattic Kismet / Akismet: the little company that dropped the ball. It’s a nice article on how the whole Akismet process lacks transparency.

At Web Marketing HowTo, Robert says that he’s currently encountering this problem as well. Since we both recently left comments on the same blog, Remarkablogger, and given the way they word some of their articles, I have to wonder if someone doesn’t have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to what they think are spam comments or trackbacks. I didn’t write that sentence well. What I meant to say is that the way some bloggers write things it can make you concerned that they’ll ’spam’ you for the least little thing.

[link and name removed by request] takes the system to task in this article, I Hate WordPress. He calls Akismet a “Child of Frankinstein spam machine”. From what I gather, he got tagged as a spammer by someone who objected to something he had written.

Gaming the Akismet System

HaHaHa! I win!Unfortunately, it seems that the Akismet system may be very open for a malicious troll to drop the ban stick on you using black hat methods, thus limiting how you can socially interact with other bloggers as well as promote your blog. The system seems like it could be used to sully the name of anyone you don’t like or to backstab a competing blog.

Here’s how an Akismet ban attack could go down.

Someone who didn’t like your comment on a particular topic on their blog could take your information, your name, email, and URL, throw them into a comment spamming program, which are easy enough to find, and generate hundreds of spam comments apparently from you. To further cover their tracks, they could do this through a proxy server or run it as a PHP process on a shared server at a popular hosting site. Of course, most of these blog owners who got the ’spam’ would flag these comments as spam. This would result in your credentials being incorrectly marked as spam comments by hundreds of bloggers, thus damaging your ability to promote your site.

To make matters worse, Akismet apparently doesn’t do IP tracking. It seems that they could figure out that there were 10000 spammy comments from one IP address and 150 legit comments from another address. But, apparently, they don’t do this.

Akismet, Time to Come Clean

Time to clean up your act, AkismetAkismet needs to come clean with what they’re doing to prevent this kind of attack and to become more transparent when it comes to reporting a false positive situation. They’re apparently relying too much on automated systems and this leaves the whole process open to exploitation by malicious individuals.

Furthermore, they seem to place a lot of weight on just a few reports which could be simply ignorance of how trackbacks work or perhaps someone reacting out of anger to a negative comment.

Lastly, they need to make it crystal clear how to get your credentials cleared after being given a false positive status in the system.

Having an anti-spam system for blogs is important. However, having an anti-spam system that can’t be easily gamed or that gives credibility where credibility isn’t due is also important. Akismet needs to step up and correct these serious and growing problems in their system.

Have you been the victim of an Akismet false positive? Have you gotten a lot of Akismet false positives in your filter? Leave me a comment and let me hear your opinion.

 


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88 Comments »

Comment by Mike Olbinski
2007-12-23 14:11:20

Good post, I didn’t even know about this kind of thing.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 14:18:14

Hi Mike,

I didn’t realize how common the false positive situation was becoming nor that Akismet’s algorithm appears to be lacking some smarts when it comes to properly detecting things until I started researching it.

My prediction is that things will get worse before they get better.

Comment by kouji
2008-10-18 13:21:17

i got hit by this recently. my comments were going into the void. but the good thing was that, when i filled up akismet’s form for false positives on its site, within a day or two i received an email from them, and the problem had been fixed. :)

now, sometimes a comment or two disappears into the void, but there’s a way for me to check, and when i do, i confirm that it isn’t akismet doing the blocking.

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Comment by Tim
2007-12-23 15:11:16

Wow great post jfc.

That is a real shame, akismet has been a real godsend in my opinion, but I can totally see now how people can abuse the system. Really sad.

It’s hard to think of ways that this system could protect itself from this sort of thing. Maybe there should be a rule that only “established blogs” (that they approve) can submit spam to the system, whereas all the other blogs can submit spam to their own personal spam lists, which does not touch the global system.

I definitely hope that they can fix this up, because blog spam is a pretty serious problem. I’ll definitely be checking my approval queue for false positives from now on.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:14:00

Hi Tim,

I agree that Akismet has been helpful, particularly on my VB.NET blog where it’s caught over 5000 spam comments (spammers seem to love that blog for some reason, probably because it’s PR4).

But they really give too much credibility to angry or ignorant people and their system seems to be open to black hat gaming based on my observations.

 
 
Comment by Vic
2007-12-23 15:27:21

Frank the part that really sucks is that peeps are using this technique everyday more and more when they lack the nuts to actually face off with you. I will say this though Frank and I hope you will have the same thing to say in a few days. The times I have gotten blackballed the folks at Askimet had fixed my problem in less then 72 hours, but tell you what for some one that me, shoot I just seem to bring this upon me to regularly. Like I said at my site Frank I actually have the Askimet contact form bookmarked :(

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:17:51

Thanks Vic,

I can see this practice really picking up as we go into the US Presidential campaign season next year where a blogger who favors one party can block someone who favors another.

I hope they get it fixed up soon both for me and for others this seems to be happening to more and more often.

 
 
Comment by Remarkablogger
2007-12-23 15:43:12

I’m not sure if I’m reading you correctly, but I hope that you’re not saying that I have an “itchy trigger finger” when it comes to marking comments as spam.

This whole issue of false positives and downright malicious behavior in order to attack others through the system is very unfortunate, and we all suffer. I spent more time than I wanted to scrolling through the hundreds of spam comments in Aksimet that had been collected in just a few hours in order to suss out Robert’s comments and allow them to see the light of day. I did it because it was the right thing to do for Robert.

I had also been using the Bad Behavior plugin, and then, due to an error on their part, me and probably thousands of others wound up unable to access our own blogs. By deleting the plugin’s folder via FTP, I was able to get back into my own blog. There is a new version of Bad Behavior out, but their previous error has eroded my trust considerably. I haven’t installed it.

I may switch entirely to the new Defensio service. Maybe the new kid on the block has got some chops.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:05:32

Hi Michael,

I just noticed the coincidence of me and Robert visiting the same blog and remarked on it. I thought the way you worded some things meant that you would be quick to press the spam button, such as “anything that seems suspicious to me or that isn’t above-board”. Sorry if I got you wrong on this. I was just trying to figure out where and how it might have happened.

 
Comment by Ray
2007-12-29 06:51:18

I had the exact same problem with Bad Behavior recently and the upgrade fixed it. It’s the only problem I have ever had with the plugin so don’t let that one problem dissuade you from using it.

Owing to false positives, I removed Akismet a long time ago and use Spam Karma 2, which is much better in my opinion. i leave akismet around as a backup in case of problems with SK2

 
 
Comment by Collin LaHay
2007-12-23 15:43:28

“Since both he and I were recently involved in a difference of opinion with particular bright orange blogger so we were wondering if this wasn’t the source of my problem.”

For the record, you were marked before you visited my blog for the first time because I myself had to approve your comment from the Akismet spam folder. =(

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:09:29

Thanks for clearing that up Collin,

The reason I got a bit suspicious was that the link to OpTempo you put in your article showed up on my WordPress Dashboard and then disappeared. I’m not sure what would have caused that but it did rouse my suspicions. Sorry if I was wrong about that.

Thanks for letting me know that the comment I left was in the spam folder. This will help me further narrow down when the flag was tripped.

 
 
Comment by Lin
2007-12-23 18:14:58

Wow Frank, if it isn’t one thing it’s another. Here I am just trying to learn all I can about using Wordpress and now I have to worry about Askimet. At least I know where to go now if that happens to me. Thanks a lot for posting this.

You had a run in with Vic? Yikes! Vic makes me nervous. :)

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:27:12

Hi Lin,

It seems the more controversial you are the more likely some malicious person is to mark a comment or trackback as spam. Vic is pretty controversial so that’s why he’s got Akismet on “speed dial”.

Vic and I had a little disagreement with Collin and the timing of some things had me suspicious but he’s cleared that up to my satisfaction.

Vic and I have debated Google’s intentions from time to time but it’s always been a friendly debate.

 
 
Comment by Saedel
2007-12-23 20:36:15

Very useful info, Frank. Thanks for posting. I wasn’t aware of this until I’ve read this article.

So far, Akismet is doing fine for me. I haven’t seen a real blog marked a spam yet. I review all the marked comment and make sure they are all valid spam.

But this case of abusing Akismet is troubling. I hope nobody does it to me.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:33:42

Hi Saedel,

Akismet has worked quite well for me, particularly on my other blog. I don’t recall ever seeing a false positive over there.

However, I’ve seen about a dozen false ones on OpTempo and that’s with a little over 300 spams total. With a little Googling around, I found out this is becoming more and more common in certain niches, particularly those that cover Internet marketing, meta-blogging and some other competitive or controversial fields. This indicates to me that some people are maliciously gaming the system in order to block people they disagree with.

 
 
Comment by Saedel
2007-12-23 21:30:40

I forgot to tell you, BloggingZoom.com is marked as a spam by Akismet. Everytime I submit an article, I have to visit the Spam section to de-mark BZ so it will be reflected as a pingback.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 21:36:15

That figures, doesn’t it. Just another confirmation of what I mentioned in my article.

 
 
Comment by Robert
2007-12-23 23:03:39

My problem was existing (though not clear to me yet) prior to posting over at Michael Martine’s Remarkablogger. He’s the one who confirmed it for me after I used his contact form and was very helpful.

I think that in my case, possibly the previous owner of that domain might have been unfriendly in a spam sense, because I’ve seen old cached copies of a landing page, and I’ve been using the URL for only about 2 weeks, and even my very first posts didn’t seem to show up.

Akismet is good generally speaking, but the handling of false positives needs some work. On my other site, very very few spams have ever gotten through. OTOH, if I get marked as spam, then Akismet’s very success is going to lock me out of a LOT of WordPress and other sites.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-23 23:35:10

Hi Robert,

I rescued you comment from Akismet. I agree that Akismet works good when it’s blocking actual spam because, in reality, it works too well.

I’ve edited the article to better explain what I was trying to say. I didn’t mean to accuse Michael but just to point out the coincidence and that the way one of his posts was worded made me wonder if a hasty, accidental, judgment had been made (looks like that error was on my part in this case).

On the bad domain issue, I wrote this article about that back in October: Do You Know Where Your Web Site Has Been?. It’s too bad that Akismet doesn’t publish a list of domains that they ban so that you can know ahead of time if you’re buying a ‘dog’ domain.

 
 
Comment by Akismet
2007-12-24 03:09:27

I got your message, but you just sent it yesterday! On a Sunday! Sorry I hadn’t responded yet. The problem should be fixed up now, and don’t worry the situation you describe is not possible with how Akismet works. (Unfortunately that’s all I can say.)

Comment by jfc
2007-12-24 09:33:47

You see, this is the problem, the guy below says you’re a phony. I’m also inclined to think they’re a phony too. The real Akismet has my real email address and neither of you sent an email to it but chose to comment here. Interesting…

Comment by Matt
2007-12-24 21:59:34

Sorry about that, I closed your ticket when I opened left this comment. Mark and I both do support for Akismet, but he does the bulk, so when he didn’t see anything he thought the comment above was from a jokester, when it was in fact me. (A jokester, but associated with Akismet.)

Anyway… Merry Christmas!

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Comment by jfc
2007-12-24 22:37:19

Thanks for clearing that up Matt,

I do hope you do have something in place to prevent the kind of attack I mentioned in place. A lot of the programming work I do is in securing medical record systems so potential attack scenarios are something I think through often.

I’d also like to see Akismet address the problem of malicious or angry spam flagging as long as it didn’t compromise your algorithms.

Thanks for your help and Merry Christmas to you too.

 
 
 
 
Trackback by Web Marketing HowTo
2007-12-24 06:19:37

Akismet False Positive Problem Resolved

You may be aware of the issue I was having with Akismet generating a false positive for spam on my comments, as detailed in my post HowTo Deal With Akismet False Positives. As detailed in the post, I got in touch with a blogger or two who agreed I wa…

 
Comment by Mark
2007-12-24 06:21:11

Hi, I don’t know who the ‘Akismet’ person above is, but you can ignore them. They have nothing to do with Akismet.

For a variety of reasons, not least because being open about how Akismet works would give the spammers more knowledge, we do not divulge the exact manner in which it works. We also work hard to ensure that people deliberately sending people to spam do not succeed. In a system dealing with over 12 million spams a day mistakes will happen but fixing them is a high priority.

If you have any concerns, please send a message through the form at http://akismet.com and we will get back to you.

I apologise for this happening and the obvious trouble it has caused.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-24 10:01:43

Mark,

While I find it odd that you didn’t contact me privately via email but only through a comment on this post, the problem seems to be resolved. If you were the one who took care of this, I thank you.

Note that my transparency complaint has more to do with your public face than your behind the scenes algorithms.

First, you need to make it more user friendly to report a false positive. I could figure out pretty easily but I could imagine a less computer savvy blogger having trouble with it.

Secondly, I’m quite concerned with the apparent ability for a single person to blackball a blogger they don’t like for some reason. Vic, who’s a pretty controversial character, gets his comments marked as spam regularly. While I understand that you don’t want to reveal your inner workings so far as a threshold or weighting of a complaint is concerned, I do hope that you give someone who falsely reports a spam comment a reduced level of credibility in the future. Making it clear that filing false reports will incur a “boy who cried wolf” penalty should discourage this kind of malicious and angry flagging without compromising your algorithm.

Lastly, I hope my Automated Akismet Attack scenario I mentioned in the article can’t happen. I hope that you’ve already taken this into account and have figured out how to deal with it algorithmically. I think that and other automated ‘dirty trick’ attacks are the greatest threats to the credibility your system.

 
 
Comment by Robert
2007-12-24 06:24:18

Matt took care of my situation and one of the WordPress.com support guys independently contacted me just a couple hours later, as he’d seen me mention the situation on the Akismet blog. That’s a super quick response time for the time of week and time of year, so you can color me a happy camper, and it surely beat my expectation of how long it’d take. Kudos to them.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-24 10:10:45

Hi Robert,

I think I’m working OK too. I was able to leave a comment as ‘myself’ on your blog but I’ll have to comment a few other places to make sure.

I’m glad they were responsive to this situation. Of course, running a major Internet operation is a 24/7/365 job so a quick response is expected, even on holidays. As a programmer, I’ve been on call or had to go in to work on a holiday just about every year out of the past 10 years. It’s good to see the companies I’ve worked for aren’t the only ones asking programmers and other techs to “come in on Sunday too” :)

 
 
Comment by Vic
2007-12-27 15:32:29

Geezz spend a day with out visiting and have to spend an hour reading comments LOL.

I am so glad to see Askimet actually come up and clear things up.

Happy Holidays Frank!

Zoom

Vic

Comment by jfc
2007-12-27 15:55:02

Hi Vic,

This comment will make it the most commented post on OpTempo. :)

Have a great holiday season Vic.

 
 
2007-12-27 21:47:07

[…] I really, really hope that none of Automattic’s investors run into this post about people using Akismet as a weapon against commenters who piss them off, because not only is it, well, about the potential for Akismet abuse, but there’s some […]

 
2007-12-28 01:43:00

[…] I need you to realize — your actions when clicking that "Delete All Spam" button may be affecting legitimate commenters. Unfortunately, it seems that the Akismet system may be very open for a malicious troll to drop the […]

 
Comment by Blogger
2007-12-28 04:30:57

Up until a few months ago I used Akismet as well. Not anymore.

I have read this blog and the others complaining about Akismet’s malfunctions. I am truly disgusted by their shitty attitude. The reply by some chick from Akismet to the complaint by the Smart Startup blogger is all you need to know about these people. The blogger complains about a real problem and the Akismet chick only whines about being misidentified as a receptionist by him instead of addressing the problem. This company blows in my humble opinion.

The sooner it goes down the drain the better.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-28 09:37:54

Hi Blogger,

I do think the service they offer is useful, just that they need to make some improvements in the area of false positives and improve the public face of their service.

 
 
Comment by drmike
2007-12-28 10:04:45

Agree 100% and you’re not the first person to point this out. This kind of revenge by Automattic has been known for many months. I used to be a strong supporter and volunteer with wordpress, wordpress multiuser, and wordpress.com. In fact, Matt even gave me one of the pro account to use with my own wordpress multiuser install. (He bragged a number of times about how the license was $500 a month and I was getting it for free.) In June, I got blocked by Akismet and my license was no longer usable even though Matt commented publicly that all was well. There has been no resolution since that time even though I have contacted Automattic and Akismet a number of times. Email to their CEO went unreturned. (Why Tony is running for Best startup CEO, I have no idea.)

In August, we banned Akismet and removed it from all of our client servers. Cost us nearly $6k in support fees to do all that. We worked up a solution that uses a simple IP check to match the site against the IP address against when the contact comes from for trackbacks as well as using Spam Assassin rules. A lot less false positives, we’re able to make adjustments, and we’re able to control what is occurring. That’s a lot less headaches for us and our clients.

Comment by drmike
2007-12-28 10:28:01

Oh, I forgot to mention that Matt and crew have stated a number of times that they don’t need an ethic policy. Between this and the recent discovery that they were putting in what appeared to be sponsored links on one of their sites while removing themes that had such links, it’s just proof once again that they need such a policy.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-28 11:04:29

Hi DrMike,

Your follow-up comment got caught by my anti-spam measure, moderating all comments with a link in them. I’ve found this to be an effective way to stop spam comments that Akismet doesn’t.

Sorry to hear about your problems with WordPress. Your signature link is showing a 403 error right now for some reason, BTW.

I think a lot of this goes back to the question of how can you earn money from open source or free software and the ethics surrounding it.

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2007-12-30 21:32:08

[…] of my favorite posts so far: Akismet: Heading Toward Failure? This post is fantastic! Great discussion, he even gets some Akismet devs joining in! Big Honkin’ […]

 
Comment by Bruce
2008-01-06 08:35:48

Interesting and not something I was aware existed. I have noticed that almost all tackback comments on my blog get caught in the spam filter. I actually check mine every day as part of my comment approval process and just delete the real spam at the same time. That way my queue stays clear and its easier for me to pick out real comments from the junk.

One another note, I’ve noticed a big decrease in the amount of spam I get lately. I use dot get at least 30 a day promoting various medications to make my life complete, but latley I don’t see a lot.

Comment by jfc
2008-01-06 09:24:12

Hi Bruce,

This one got sent to the filter but the one on the other post didn’t. I guess they’ve cleared your name.

That’s what I do here, check it regularly for false positives. I usually get less than 20 spam comments a day here. On my niche blogs, I’ve gotten as many as 100 in a day which does complicate weeding out false positives.

 
 
2008-02-06 16:32:02

[…] way to silence a person you don’t like: train a distributed anti-spam network like Akismet to mark this person’s posts as spam. Wow, that’s a downside to distributed spam-checking I had never considered. We encountered […]

 
Comment by Harald Felgner
2008-03-04 04:50:40

I am the victim of an Akismet false positve for two months now. Several bloggers have marked me as not spam. I myself mark the trackbacks to my own blog as not spam on a weekly basis. But nothing happens.

Let’s see how it goes with this comment ;)

Comment by jfc
2008-03-04 10:29:24

Hi Harald,

Your comment came through OK, I think.

It appears I am back on their black list. I certainly don’t spam comments but sometimes I will state my opinion strongly. This causes some malicious individuals to mark my comments as spam out of spite.

Comment by Harald Felgner
2008-03-21 14:24:28

Yep, my comment here came through right away. But nevertheless I have to get my trackbacks out of the junk folders on my own blog one by one, cause Akismet says: Spam.

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Comment by Dan
2008-03-22 06:45:08

Great article ! Thanks for sharing this ! I didn’t know that akismet could flag you in this manner. They sure need to take action !

Comment by jfc
2008-03-22 08:19:41

Hi Dan,

I think they’re trying to improve but given their low staff numbers dictated by their low/no cost service it probably makes it difficult for them.

 
 
Comment by Dan
2008-03-23 11:28:09

I agree. But in that case they should cry out for help. I’m sure plenty of coders will offer their services for such a noble cause.

Comment by jfc
2008-03-24 08:06:32

Sadly, the problem is that many of those who would like to have insider knowledge so that they could game the system would also offer their services.

 
 
Comment by SB
2008-03-23 22:21:20

I seem to notice none of my comments (which are all legit)are showing up on blogs all of a sudden and now wonder if I might have been tagged as a false positive as well (I probably will be in your folder sigh). Hopefully Akismet will help me out as I have sent them a request to help investigate.

Comment by jfc
2008-03-24 08:10:40

Hi SB,

This comment seemed to come through OK.

Sometimes the blog owner may use filtering techniques other than just Akismet. For example, I automatically place any comment with a link in it into moderation. Others have other validation techniques, such as CAPTCHAs, that don’t properly display in Internet Explorer or Firefox while showing up correctly in the other. I’ve encountered this a few times.

 
 
Comment by Work From Home Jobs
2008-04-10 11:32:27

I’ve just been told by Vic that I have been flagged. I think anyone who supports Vic is a potential target.

Comment by jfc
2008-04-10 12:08:31

This one came through OK so maybe they fixed it up for you.

I’ve had 3 bans myself, probably two for the reason you mentioned. The one mentioned in this article and another one back in March. I had, and probably still have, one for trackbacks only, and that’s one of the reasons why I no longer do free blog reviews.

 
 
Comment by Software Reviews
2008-04-12 16:33:29

I’ve been testing aksimed behavior during last two weeks and I think that URLs in the comments seems to be the key factor used by Aksimet to mark a comment as SPAM. I think they should have a black list with banned address and all comments having one of those URLs is sent directly to Aksimet SPAM Folder.

 
Comment by jim
2008-05-02 09:11:22

I have one reader that is constantly, but not always, caught as a spammer by Askimet. Driving me crazy…

 
Comment by Hostmonster
2008-06-24 21:48:42

See those few spammers hurt everyone.

If there were no spammers, we would have this problem.

You can If forever.

 
Comment by web design newbie
2008-06-25 15:13:52

Well written, it explains a lot of thinks to me. Its unfair that spammers cause such frustration for blogs and bloggers. It has happened to me in the past and it is frustrating.

 
Comment by Xel deCassis
2008-07-01 03:03:39

Hey Frank,

Came here searching for info on Akismet as I think my other blog was tagged by somebody as spam. It’s quite unfair as I always leave meaningful comments.

In some blogs, I don’t think my comments are even showing. I only get a blank screen after I hit the submit button. I tested this on my other blog and no comments were showing on the Akismet folder. Damn, I got to deal now with those Akismet folks.

Comment by jfc
2008-07-01 09:06:46

Hi Xel,

It isn’t that unusual for WordPress to hiccup sometimes and not show the “Awaiting Moderation” message or simply lose a comment. Some plugins can make this situation worse.

At least this comment came through OK.

Comment by Xel
2008-07-01 20:29:29

No, my contest blog on bloggerunleashed is the one with the problem. This one is fine. On your blog, when I try to use the contest blog as my link, I just get a blank screen. I get the same result on other blogs I try to comment on. On some blogs, it would refresh but it won’t show my comment right away. I’m sure because it’s in the Akismet folder.

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2008-07-06 11:21:06

I haven’t yet had a problem with Akismet, but I’m definitely commenting “vewy vewy quietly” for fear of having just such an issue.

Now, on my own blogs I seem to see very few false positives, at least right now.

 
Comment by All About Nothing
2008-07-06 12:11:50

My blog is still pretty new, so I’ve had no comments to worry about yet. But from a bit of Googling, there’s clearly some issues with Akismet that I need to watch out for.

In general, do you guys spam comments that are borderline (in other words, Akismet didn’t get them, but they’re obviously spam) or do you just delete them?

Comment by jfc
2008-07-06 12:30:55

Hi ‘Nothing’,

It depends on the spam as to what I do. If it’s just a bunch of random letters or words, especially with links to bad neighborhood sites, I spam it.

If it is generic and obviously generated by software like “I didn’t agree with you first, but last paragraph makes sense for me” or “Where do you normally research for your blog content?” or “Great Post! I’m subscribing to your feed!” then I’ll usually edit it in some way and remove the links.

Some people incorrectly and even maliciously mark some comments as spam because the commentator’s site link wasn’t a person’s name or they disagree with the commentator or they just don’t like the commentator or one of their known associates. This is just plain wrong.

Comment by All About Nothing
2008-07-07 10:04:18

> Some people incorrectly and even maliciously
> mark some comments as spam …

Jeez, you’d have to be a bit of a loser to do that. What a rotten thing to have happen to you. I’ll be sure to hang around friendly neighborhoods like this instead!

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
2008-07-07 10:07:34

Hey Nothing -

Yep, from what I’ve seen, Optempo is managed by one of the good guys of blogging.

Frank - From what you’ve described, Akismet is still pretty much open to someone running a ban attack. Has that ever happened to you, or on a site with which you’re familiar?

Comment by jfc
2008-07-07 10:32:16

I know people who’re in Vic’s Blogger Unleashed contest who have contest blogs that have been Akismetted for no reason other than a lot of bloggers despise Vic.

Akismet tries to prevent this to some degree, I think. They do understand that certain types of blogs like “Make Money Online” or political blogs get a lot of malicious spam flagging and I would assume that they take this into account in their algorithms but this probably isn’t perfect.

 
 
Comment by Free Stuff Online
2008-08-11 14:25:41

the thing about akismet is that I think they do a pretty good job… the one problem is that sometimes I find that they take some good relevant comments that aren’t spam , but confuse it as spam… other than that they have worked well for me :)

 
Comment by kouji
2008-10-01 04:28:52

didn’t know about this as well. pains me sometimes when i write a comment of at least several sentences, and then i find that it doesn’t even appear to have registered on a site. before, i used to think perhaps the author considered my comment spammy. now, i think it may also at times have been the spam filter. :(

 
Comment by Logo Designer
2008-12-04 23:18:15

Very useful info, Frank. Thanks for posting. I wasn’t aware of this until I’ve read this article.

So far, Akismet is doing fine for me.

 
Comment by Shirley
2008-12-05 19:56:27

Yep. I have been victim to the Askimet false positive problem… It’s quite frustrating.

 
2008-12-06 08:53:22

Akismet Marks Valid Comments As SPAM!

The Akismet anti-spam system is one of the most handy tools for automatically detecting spammy comments. However, we have found that it doesn’t work as well as it should. In fact, you might find yourself victim of an Akismet attack and have all o…

 
Comment by Dewaji SEO Test
2009-01-09 20:46:31

I have read few complaining about Akismet’s malfunctions and since that read I never use akismet again. I prefer to choose WPSpamFree. Still tested until now, and it’s work well

 
Comment by money-saving-tips
2009-01-14 21:59:54

Yep. Flawed system, since you can use someone else’s website and/or email address to create a malicious false positive. Oh well, it’s a difficult problem to solve. Email spam has been around much longer, and it’s not as if that’s been solved either.

Comment by Typhoon
2009-01-16 06:00:44

It’s a very thing that people make false comments with others information.I hate such things..There should be some @@$$%# to get rid of such things.

 
 
Comment by Buddismo
2009-02-02 20:09:31

Ok, I think this could work as a test…I just submitted a message with the name ‘Emule Gratuito’ using my blocked domain (emule-gratis.it) and I got the blank screen after pressing ‘add comment’.

Frank, could you kindly tell me if you can recover it from the Spam Folder or if it were immediatly deleted?

Thanx.

 
Comment by Funny Junk
2009-02-07 12:58:29

I agree that Akismet needs to be improved some with how they flag spam. I’ve found some legit comments in my Akismet spambox that I fixed. However, Akismet has stopped all real spam to my blog though which has helped a real lot, but I think bloggers should go through the spam filter and make sure real comments are not being blocked.

 
Comment by Logo Designer
2009-03-05 02:11:49

I agree with you Funny Junk. they need to be improved. I usually post my comments on most popular blogs and Akismet stared pushing me as a spammer. I really hate this and wrote them about this and then they fixed the problem. They really need to be imporved.

 
Comment by Web Marketing
2009-04-03 10:11:00

I find that Link Anchor Text that is too aggressive can also cause issues with Akismet. It does have a good reason for being, but this aspect of legit comments being unfairly penalised needs to be addressed.

 
Comment by Morris
2009-04-23 05:44:50

Akismet is dangerous it impedes free speech and causes problems among people thinking that the person does not like them and does not want to approve their comments!
I think bloggers should focus more on non-akismet blogs than on dofollow blogs. A comment seen on a nofollow site is better than blocked on a dofollow site. That’s nothing against this blog. Just akismet. If it was a watchdog it might bite the owner instead of the prowler :)

 
Comment by Used Tires
2009-04-29 22:35:54

Have you been the victim of an Akismet false positive?

Yes I have, but whenever I contact Akismet, they usually fix my situation, but it usually takes a few days to hear a reply back from them.

But… I can honestly tell you it is very frustrating feeling being flagged as spam by Askimet, especially when you take the time to leave quality comments on blogs.

Till then,

Jean

 
Comment by Ekey
2009-05-09 08:51:55

I think My comments are being flagged on your blog via akismet, but I tend to like akismet on my blog. Akismet gets the job done and prevent spam.

 
Comment by Meeting rooms
2009-05-18 09:01:40

I had the exact same problem with Bad Behavior recently and the upgrade fixed it. It’s the only problem I have ever had with the plugin so don’t let that one problem dissuade you from using it.

Owing to false positives, I removed Akismet a long time ago and use Spam Karma 2, which is much better in my opinion. i leave akismet around as a backup in case of problems with SK2

 
Comment by Brian
2009-07-15 08:41:06

I have now been blocked by Akismet as a false positive. I inquired and here is their response.

************************
Hi Brian,

You’re not banned by Akismet. Akismet isn’t a blacklist. It adapts to the preferences of each blog.

Your comments aren’t often being published because most people regard comments and web sites like yours to be spam.

Kind regards,
Alex.
***********************
It seems that either Akismet or the blog owner can judge your website domain and then send you to Akismet HELL. I don’t spam and always leave legitimate comments. I don’t always agree with the blog post however.

Comment by jfc
2009-07-16 20:08:47

Hi Brian,

I moderate all comments by people who haven’t commented here before since it cuts down on spam.

I know what you mean about bloggers flagging you just because of the domain name even if you leave a good comment. I have this problem with some of my other sites.

 
 
Comment by Sandro
2009-08-15 17:25:40

As flawed as Akismet system might be, I still have not found a wordpress plug-in that does a neat job. So any suggestions are welcomed! Since I’m not a big blogcommenter, I can’t tell any experience about being flagged, but in the few blogs I own, and which are all do follow, Akismet alone has done so far quite a good job. I can count false positives on one hand among thousands of spam comments.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that Akismet doesn’t need to
improve his service. Guess it won’t take a short time, though. See email spamming, we’re still as we were five years ago.

 
Comment by it support London
2009-08-17 05:41:49

I think Akismet is pretty good at what it does but it will never beat human comment moderation. This is because programs like Akismet write certain bits of code to detect spam comments on a number of levels but once the spammers become aware of what will trip spam filters then they just change the content of their comments. Plug ins like this will always be playing catch up to the spammers, reacting to what they do rather than pro-actively trying to prevent it.

 
Comment by Jay Yanuaria
2009-12-16 03:15:55

Im a victim of this as well.. I think a competitor or some kid trying a new toy used my site and now my site got banned and I dont even know how can I get the commenting freedom back..

 
Comment by The Heretic
2010-05-19 05:30:29

Omadeon has been the victim of an Akismet ban attack because he was targeted by a well-known psycho blogger in Greece who has often embarked on libelous campaigns against others and now uses the “report spam” option.

 
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