For sometime now, readers have been complaining that their comments are being accidentally flagged by Akismet as spam. Despite repeated un-flagging, their next comment still hits the spam bin. The false positives are getting really annoying (and time consuming too).
I’ve already installed a WP plugin called Antispam Collateral Condolences which notifies people when their comments have been caught as spam. At least they can email me and I could act on it right away before it gets buried and completely forgotten or overlooked.
People have been asking why their comments were falsely identified by the system as spam. Since Akismet is not open-source and owned by Automattic, the algo and codes have not been seen by the public. We know the general idea but specific triggers are unknown.
I have some ideas though and some are based on other anti-spam system.
- Too many links in the comments post. Anything more than 2 links are likely spammers.
- Fast, successive comments. If you leave too many comments too fast. There’ usually a time gap (my hunch is 30 to 90 seconds) in between comments to identify if the commenter is a bot or a human.
- Very long URLs in the URI field.
- Use of blacklisted words.
- Domain on email used
- Use of dynamic IPs. When someone else who used to have that IP was flagged as spammer.
- Use of static IP. When you’re using a public terminal like an internet cafe and their IP has been previously flagged as spam source.
- Too many pings too often. Linking out to another blog/entry too often or in frequent succession (more than 2 trackbacks to the same blog).
- Very long comments.
Half of the items in bullet points above will not really trigger a spam flag though a combination of them will raise the probability. The biggest advantage with Akismet’s centralized service is also becoming its biggest disadvantage. This is because once any of your comments get flagged as spam on any WordPress blog, you get the same treatment everywhere. It’s even worse now since Akismet is also being used with MT, Drupal, b2evolution and a slew of other CMS and forum softwares.
What do you do then?
Diagnose the extent of the damage:
- Are your comments being flagged as spam on just a single blog, a couple or all WP blogs (including yours)?
- Are you on a static or dynamic IP?
- Did you try using different browsers?
- Were you logged in as a Subscriber of the blog or just a visitor when you commented?
- Have you tried using a different nick, email address and URL when commenting?
Try out some solutions:
- Contact all the bloggers where you left a comment and was flagged as spam. make sure they un-flag it. I think Akismet’s algo is self-correcting — meaning the more people flagging you as non-spam, the more chances you get out of that sink hole.
- Try a different PC, a different browser, use a different name, email or domain when leaving a comment. Also clear the cache of the browser and the PC just to make sure.
- Contact Automattic and tell them about your problem.
If all else fails, blog about it and ping Matt (cool new domain, btw).