Right since the beginning of my blogging career, I’ve been using Akismet in conjuction with Bad Behavior to weed out spam from my blog. Akismet is as a natural choice since it comes parcelled with WordPress installations. As for Bad Behavior, I decided to use it after reading plenty of articles on effective spam filtering.
Akismet has worked just fine for me so far. It has it’s occasional false positives (marking legit. comments as spam) – but I’m all right with it, since I don’t get much of spam everyday (at the most a 100). While Akismet may be very good at catching spam, there’s one quarter it needs to be revamped big time. The list of spams in Akismet is presented in a paginated manner while displaying the full body of each spam, making the list unnecessarily large and extremely tedious to go through. As I mentioned earlier – I don’t receive much of spam everyday. So, it’s relatively easy for me to wade through the list and pick-out any false positives. However, imagine what a pain it must be for the larger blogs receiving thousands of spam comments everyday. There are big chances of a good amount of legitimate comments going down the drain along with the spam flood. To make the situation worse, lately there have been a lot of complaints about Akismet producing more and more false positives.
After going through a bunch of reviews – both positive and negative, I decided to go ahead and give Defensio a try. For those who didn’t know, Defensio is a community-based anti-spam service similar to Akismet – but with certain added enhancements. They offer anti-spam solutions for a wide range of blogging platforms. It’s free for personal use while for commercial usage a nominal charge is levied on a per month basis.
Defensio sorts your quarantined comments by their “spaminess” value. This means that finding the occasional legitimate comment buried in your spambox (aka false positive) becomes dead easy: with Defensio you simply need to monitor the top portion of your quarantine to be confident that there’s no ham amongst your spam.
After I installed this plug-in, the first few spams that were caught were arranged into two distinct groups – Somewhat Spammy and Moderately Spammy. I’m yet to see the Super Spams… but I get the general idea.
A really nice feature of Defensio is that only the first line of the spam comment is shown (along with a link to display the full content). This makes for much better readability and sifting through the list. If you recall, I was grumbling about the lack of this in Akismet towards the beginning of this post. Score 1 for Defensio.
Before I forget, I’d like to mention one more contrasting point. When I had first installed Akismet and got my API key from WordPress.com, it gave me an insane amount of trouble to validate the key. This has been the same for any new blog I’ve helped install. For some reason, the validation wouldn’t go through for at least an hour following the registration at WordPress.com. However, with Defensio it was just click-and-go. Score 2.
Another distinct advantage of Defensio is that apart from the community anti-spam fighting feature, it operates on a blog-to-blog level.
This means that no two bloggers will see Defensio react in precisely the same way, even for similar comments, which is a good thing – because one person’s ham might be another person’s spam. And our continuously evolving set of algorithmic tricks ensures that we’ll never let spammers gain the upper hand.
Also available are RSS feeds of your comments and spam – which makes the monitoring less painful by curtailing the need to login into the Admin Panel on a regular basis. The Defensio site keeps track of your spam statistics and presents nicely decked-up charts that summarizes the evolution of spam and performance on your blog – a cool eye-candy feature to while your time away and “satisfy your inner bean-counter“.
Keep in mind, this is NOT an Akismet bashing post. I really respect the work of Matt and his team. They are the pioneers in this and without them – more than 80% of the WordPress based blogs wouldn’t see through a single day of Spam Attack. However, Defensio does offer a wider range of tools and features and that makes it a more viable option.
Now all I got to see is how well it handles my spam. On the initial try, it did get two false negatives – i.e. spam comments which passed through as legitimate ones. But since this is its teething phase, I’m going to overlook that and give it a chance to evolve according to my comment preferences. Will report back in a couple of weeks time (or two) on how well it’s performing.