Updated: May 2019
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Myth: A plugin to protect your site from spam comments is vital. Prevents user registrations from bots.
The usual recomendation is Akismet (installed with WordPress).
We say: Disable comments with a plugin. And get rid of Akismet, too. They’re a waste of time.
Comments are a unique and tightly integrated feature of blogging. But the Internet has changed. It’s an uglier, more cruel environment.
Trolls are people who leave hateful or disrespectful comments for no apparent reason except for the attention that they receive.
Akismet is part of a cloud-based spam-filtering system. It checks your blog comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not. It’s THE number-one most popular plugin with over 52 million downloads (not installs). It’s preinstalled by default on every WordPress self-hosted option. Now you understand why it’s “popular.”
The plugin download weighs 57k zipped (182k decompressed). Small for a popular plugin – not the usual enormous size. Load time: about 8 milliseconds (tested with P3 plugin).
We don’t use Akismet anymore. Not because it might let spammers hack the site or may delete legitimate comments. Not because flagging comments as spam lets the spammers leave their garbage and the blog owner has to review each comment. Not because it’s a waste of time. Not because of false positives: Akismet has a reputation for flagging good comments as spam.
Not because all of that Akismet junk uses up our bandwidth, disk space and clutters up our WordPress database with comment metadata.
We ax Akismet immediately because of two reasons: it’s not free and comments are stress producing.
Akismet is not free. Many plugins are free that do the same thing.
“Now Akismet spam catching technology is free for non-commercial personal blogs but if you maintain a corporate blog or run a network of blogs, you are required to buy a commercial license of Akismet that starts at $5 per month. Professional bloggers, or anyone who makes more than $500 per month in advertising revenue from a WordPress blog, is also required to pay $5 per month for the Akismet license.” – http://www.labnol.org/internet/blogging/how-wordpress-makes-money/7576/
If you make money selling anything and use Akismet – ads, books, downloads, services, or products, you owe $5 per month to Automattic as of March 2016.
Builtwith.com sells stats and a list of Aksimet users: “Get a list of 421,388 websites using Akismet which includes location information, hosting data, contact details, 108,071 currently live websites and 313,317 sites that used this technology previously.” There are 100k current users who pay – sounds possible. That’s $6 million dollars in repeat annual income. That’s realistic numbers.
Official prices: https://akismet.com/plans/
Plus version is $5 per month, per site. Claim: Spam protection for professional or commercial sites and blogs.
Premium versions is $9 per month, per site. Claim: The complete security solution that protects you from more than just spam.
WordPress has been pushing the Akismet plugin forever. Is it worth the price? No! There are better, free, alternative plugins. And you don’t end up on a mailing list.
AKISMET ALTERNATIVES: FREE PLUGINS
Despite its popularity, Akismet really doesn’t perform better than similar spam-prevention plugins. Here are Akismet alternatives that outperform Akismet in any benchmark:
CleanTalk is a cloud-based solution for preventing spam on your WordPress based website. Features:c omments spam protection, spam bots registrations filter, protection from contact form spam, low false/positive rate, and many more benefits. Account registration required.
Bad Behavior plugin
There have been some troubles with old versions of this plugin so make sure you install the latest for security reasons. Bad Behavior prevents spammers from ever delivering their junk, and in many cases, from ever reading your site in the first place. Spammers are shown an error message instead of your website. There is an error key in the error message that humans can use to gain access to your website should they be blocked accidentally. (60,000+ installs, 175k download size).
This is the most widely known and used alternative anti-spam plugin. Antispam Bee has many options and features and is also easy to use. It’s reported to be very fast and also offers a spam counter on the dashboard. (200,000+ installs, 100k download size).
AVH First Defense Against Spam
The AVH First Defense Against Spam plugin gives you the option to block the spammers by the Area Name or the I.P Address. This plugin checks for any spam activities using Spam databases such as Honeypot and StopForumSpam. (10,000+ installs, 138k download size).
Anti-spam plugin blocks spam in comments automatically, invisibly for users and for admins.
- No captcha. Spam isn’t the visitors’ problem.
- No moderation queues. Spam isn’t the administrators’ problem.
- No settings page, forget about spam completely and keep the WordPress admin section clean.
Plugin is easy to use: just install it and it works. (100,000+ installs, 10k download size – tiny!). Plugin blocks spam only in comments section. Load time: about 2.5 milliseconds (tested with P3 plugin) Faster than Akismet.
Cookies for Comments
This plugin adds a stylesheet or image to your blog’s html source code. When a browser loads that stylesheet or image a cookie is dropped. If that user then leaves a comment the cookie is checked. If it doesn’t exist the comment is marked as spam. The plugin can also check how long it took a user to enter a comment. If it’s too fast it’s probably a spam bot. How fast can a legitimate user enter their name, email, web address and enter a well thought out comment? (30,000+ installs, 8k download size). Load time: about 0.8 milliseconds (tested with P3 plugin) Faster than all other plugins!
If you use wp-minify make sure you add the Cookies for Comments CSS file to the list of CSS files that shouldn’t be minified.
A WordPress anti-spam plugin that eliminates comment spam, trackback spam, contact form spam and registration spam. We’ve used this plugin. It can be overkill (too many features) for some simple sites. (100,000+ installs, 705k download size).
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (GASP)
Defeat automated spambots (even the new ‘learning’ bots with dynamically named hidden fields) by adding a client side generated checkbox. (50,000+ installs, 195k download size).
No Spam At All
No Spam At All prevents spam comments on your WordPress blog. The plugin filters out comments that are posted by robots. Go from 3,000 spam comments per day to zero spam comments per day. If you have bulk of pending spam comments, No Spam At All will help you manage the comments with just one click. (900+ installs, 78k download size).
THE BEST SPAM SOLUTION
Comments are making the Internet worse. So we got rid of them. We are free! Peace of mind.
Note: Christian, our favorite editor, thinks this is a lame solution/excuse. We love his remark, “It’s a lot like saying, ‘I’m worried about some fatal illness, so I’m going to kill myself before that can happen.’” Christian keeps us honest.
Decision based on science. Researchers have found that when readers are exposed to uncivil, negative comments at the end of articles, they trust the content of the pieces less. (Scientists dubbed this the nasty effect.) Negative comments accompanying an article caused readers to hold the article in lower esteem. In an increasingly competitive environment, websites can ill afford to have their content and brands tarnished this way.
Stop the harm caused by comments to readers, writers and site brand. Comments should be heavily moderated to promote civil, intelligent conversation; otherwise, they should be removed. If you don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, hire a virtual assistant to moderate your comments for you.
What you blog about will determine whether comments are useful or not. It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing.
Christian notes again: “Lots of people love reading negative blog comments.”
The Rising Trend of Turning Comments Off
The burden of moderation, spam, and the availability of other conversation “outposts” (like Facebook) are the main reasons for closing comments.
WordPress users are constantly on the hunt for better tools to help manage commenting and mitigate the unrelenting onslaught of spam. Publications turn comments off for different reasons, but it’s rarely due to the fact that they do not appreciate the comments left by genuine community members. Oftentimes, the burden of spam moderation becomes greater than the benefit of conversation on posts.
The intensive resources required for fair and effective moderation, and the human toll moderation takes on the moderators, most are deciding it isn’t worth the trouble to leave comments on. Most bloggers would rather devote time and energy to working on stories and interacting with readers on social media or via email. Comment have too low of a return on investment any more (ROI).
You don’t have to deal with spam, vitriol, and people who wrongly assume your blog’s comments are a support forum.
We prefer “no comments” to a curated list of positive comments.
The solution for sites where interaction isn’t critical? Turn the comments off. Trolls, spambots, and a “fractious minority” detract from intelligent conversation and sharing. While there are provisions for turning off comments in WordPress, we like these plugins below and use them often when retrofitting old sites.
PLUGINS TO TURN OFF COMMENTS
No Page Comment
An admin interface to control the default comment and trackback settings on new posts, pages and custom post types. (30,000+ installs, 23k download size).
Active installs: 1+ million
Zip file size: 82k
All-time downloads: 5,041,978
Retention rate: 20 percent (good)
This plugin allows administrators to globally disable comments on any post type (posts, pages, attachments, etc.) so that these settings cannot be overridden for individual posts. It also removes all comment-related fields from edit and quick-edit screens. (900,000+ installs, 79k download size).
Comments Disable – AccessPress
Disable comments on site globally with just one click. Comments can be disabled according to post type. (4,000+ installs, 115k download size).
WP Disable Comments
This plugin allows administrators to disable comments, trackbacks and/or pingbacks on a site or a network. The goal of this plugin is to be as comprehensive as possible and at the same time provide the flexibility to just as much as you want to. (6,000+ installs, 100k download size).
Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!