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When Akismet Goes Bad: What to do when Akismet starts spamming your own comments

by engtech of Internet Duct Tape

The reason why I created Akismet Auntie Spam helper script was because I seem to have a problem few other people do — every couple of months Akismet decides that my own comments and trackbacks are spam. This is unforgivable and a fatal usability flaw in Akismet’s design. Comments and trackbacks from the blog admin should skip the spam check process. I challenge anyone who argues differently to have to deal with always having to double check if their own comments are marked as spam. The delay between posting a comment and it appearing in Akismet almost always assures that you will miss one or there will be an inordinate delay in responding to your commenters.

But enough of the ranting about my problems with Akismet. Here are two things you can do to help when Akismet is marking your own comments as spam.

Technique #1: Search the Spam Folder

  • Go to Dashboard >> Comments >> Akismet Spam
  • Type your name into the search box
  • Click search
  • Repeat with your blog url to catch trackbacks

search akismet for spam

You will have to repeat this every couple of days until Akismet gets it’s head straight.

Technique #2: Moderate Your Own Comments

  • Go to Dashboard >> Options >> Discussion
  • Add your blog url to the moderation list to catch trackbacks
  • Add your name, email address, and IP addresses to catch comments [1]

force comment moderation on your own comments

  • Go to Dashboard >> Comments >> Awaiting Moderation to catch your trackbacks

moderate your own comments

[1] Fun gotcha: Even though it says “when a comment contains any of these words in its content, name, URL, e-mail, or IP, it will be held in the moderation queue” my testing shows that it only scans the content. This means that you’ll always have to use technique #1 to search the spam folder for your own comments and that technique #2 is only useful for catching trackbacks. I’ve submitted a bug report and hopefully this will be fixed.

Official Recommendation

From the comments.

The best and only recommended way to get yourself “out” of Akismet is to mark yourself as not spam and if the problem persists for more than a day contact support here:

http://akismet.com/contact/

Please do not contact Automattic or WordPress.com support, they’re different systems.

I hope this helps anyone who finds themselves in the same situation, and I really understand your pain. This situation of Akismet spamming my own comments has been a reoccurring thorn in my side — especially since Akismet is so prevalent that it prevents me from commenting on other blogs.

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Internet Duct Tape logoengtech blogs regularly at Internet Duct Tape. His latest posts were Blog Tip: Creating a Blog Maintenance Start Page with Netvibes, Only Two Days Left to Win Graphic Design Services for Your Blog, and 9 Techniques to Promoting Your Social Web ApplicationSubscribe to Internet Duct Tape by RSS or by email

15 Comments

  1. Posted September 25, 2007 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the tips. These certainly are good to know.

  2. Posted September 25, 2007 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    engtech, thanks for drawing some attention to the flaw of Akismet that makes it unusable. Another problem it has: what if another blogger decides to mark your legitimate comments as spam? Perhaps you’re a competitor posting on their site to introduce yourself, or maybe you’re leaving a negative comment. Many bloggers are inclined to simply mark them as spam. Enough bloggers doing this can permanently mark you as a spammer even if your comments are legit.

    And before anyone says this isn’t possible, I know several people (no, not myself) to whom this has happened.

    I tell every blogger I meet: Akismet is socially and morally unacceptable and to use Spam Karma 2 instead. To encourage this switch, I blacklist pings in my SK2 from sites that I know use Akismet. (It’s only fair, after all.) Once they ditch Akismet, I can easily remove the blacklist entries from my SK2. Yes, SK2 is that awesome. And yes, I am so mean.

  3. Posted September 25, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I have the same problem, about once as well it spams my comments on my own blog and everywhere else. As I have a WP.com blog, using a different blocker isn’t possible as Akismet is included. It does a great job overall though in blocking the 200+ comments a day.

  4. Posted September 25, 2007 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    @2 … fascinating possibilities there. It would be interesting to find out what the threshold is at which a given commenter would be routinely flagged as spam based on such an attack and what, if anything, is in place to guard against this sort of malicious use of Akismet.

  5. Posted September 25, 2007 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    @Brian:

    I’m hosted on wp.com as well and suffer the same fate. What’s frustrating is how intermittent it is for me… it seems to come and go every two months or so.

    wp.com support has been great at helping me get things sorted out, but there reaches a point where you wonder why the problem keeps happening?

  6. Posted September 25, 2007 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    @Punny Money:

    What I think did me in is another wp.com bug where my trackbacks look like crap. Instead of showing the highlighted and surrounding text my trackbacks are showing the names of my WordPress pages (as can be seen in the moderation screenshot).

    So if I link to someone else’s blog (which I do frequently) they see this garbage trackback and marks it as spam even though it’s not.

    And once you’re on the akismet bad list it’s a downward spiral because no checks for false spam since the interface is so unwieldy.

  7. Posted September 25, 2007 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    @Brian Carnell:

    Unfortunately that’s all in the secret sauce.

    If you contact Automattic support (at wordpress.com) they can sometimes help if akismet is flagging you as spam, but I’m not sure if that is general policy or them just being nice.

    Read further down in the comments for how to report a mislabeling of spam.

  8. Posted September 25, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I had that issue about a year ago, and it was annoying because I couldn’t comment on ANYONE’s blog on the internet because EVERYONE was using the same Akismet that was blocking my comments, or so it felt like.

  9. Posted September 25, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    On the other hand, it’s been 10 months since I moved from Blogger to WordPress and I’ve had 30,000 spam comments blocked. Since no platform is perfect, I put up with the occasional glitch. WordPress support is great, many times a problem is fixed within minutes, once it was fixed in 30 seconds. Can’t beat that. :)

  10. Posted September 25, 2007 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I recently wrote about how to get yourself out of Akismet, as engtech mentioned, and it happens when people mark your comment as comment spam, or you write something that triggers the filtering process. I haven’t found proof that there is a flaw in Akismet that automatically slips your email information into their spam list. However, it happens, mostly due to human intervention.

    When Akismet upgrades, I’ve noticed a few glitches in the system of caught comment spam, but that is usually fixed by checking and removing them from the list, and Akismet learns.

    Not long ago, I worried about putting all our comment spam in one basket, and I’m a huge fan of having a backup system. I do not believe Akismet is the end all and be all, but it is the strongest warrior we have right now. Back it up with the triumvirate of comment spam fighters, Spam Karma and Bad Behavior, just in case.

    Above all, though, I LOVE AUNTIE AKISMET and can’t live without it on this blog. I will easily get over 10,000 comment spam in a weekend or couple of days. That’s just too many to deal with and engtech’s Firefox Greasemonkey script is the BEST on the planet for making Akismet and the comment spam manageable. Thanks, engtech, for the one of the best blogging tools on the planet.

  11. Posted September 25, 2007 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking of adding “custom saved searches” to the next feature adding release of auntie.

    The idea I had while writing this post is that I should be able to create a saved search with my name and with my blog search and while auntie is rounding up the spam she’ll also bring those ones up to the front of the class.

  12. Posted September 25, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    You know, you are the answers to all my prayers! I’ve been waiting a way of creating saved searches in Akismet since the very beginning. Perfect!

  13. Posted September 26, 2007 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The best and only recommended way to get yourself “out” of Akismet is to mark yourself as not spam and if the problem persists for more than a day contact support here:

    http://akismet.com/contact/

    Please do not contact Automattic or WordPress.com support, they’re different systems.

  14. Posted September 26, 2007 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    @Matt:

    Thanks for the clarification on that point, Matt. I was a bit uncertain because I know that Akismet users have been directed to the WordPress.com forums for support.

    I’ll add that to the post.

  15. Posted March 17, 2009 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Yup, had that problem too! It only happened a few times but it confused me pretty badly.

    Another thing I’ve noticed in testing the Akismet filter, the only time it doesn’t like links seems to be if you use the same link twice in the same comment. You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem if a comment is legit, but I once was referring someone who wanted to know to my blog (which of course I’d also put in the optional url) so Akismet wasn’t happy. You’d think that people would know by now you can click on the persons name usually for their website.


8 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  4. […] When Akismet Goes Bad: What to do when Akismet starts spamming your own comments is another great post by Engtech of Internet Duct Tape covering some of the concerns people have about Akismet’s false/positives, and the issue of having your comments captured by Akismet, as well as features some the powerful Akismet Auntie-Spam Greasemonkey Script which is my life saver when dealing with vast amounts of comment spam in Akismet. […]

  5. […] analyzes comment spam based upon quantity and can be set up to sift through by keywords, such as your name, blog time, or specific words, […]

  6. […] When Akismet Goes Bad: What to do when Akismet starts spamming your own comments is another great post by Engtech of Internet Duct Tape covering some of the concerns people have about Akismet’s false/positives, and the issue of having your comments captured by Akismet, as well as features some the powerful Akismet Auntie-Spam Greasemonkey Script which is my life saver when dealing with vast amounts of comment spam in Akismet. […]

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