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Winning the Battle Over Comment Spam: Akismet and Search Engines?

Brian Turner asks “Should search engines use Akismet?”, a fascinating question and one that could revolutionize the revolution against spammers.

…The aim of the automated form spammers is to increase their search engine rankings – by forcing sites to unwittingly publish links which may be used by search engines to improve a sites ranking on Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.

So – what if search engines were able to datamine the Akismet data?

That would immediately allow them to better identify which websites are actively involved in form spamming, and automatically ban them…

…Now, here’s the interesting part:

If search engines were to make this a public fact of policy, that they datamine spam filters such as Akismet for offenders to penalise, then surely this would kneecap the entire automated form spam industry?

has turned out to be one of the most powerful comment spam fighting tools around. It’s use it not limited to WordPress, but is now being used on Drupal, phpbb, Blojsom, Bloxsom, Geeklog, Movable Type, b2evolution, PunBB, Lifetype, and many other wikis, blogs, and more.

Akismet uses a social networking and bookmarking style to allow users to designate which comments are comment spam. The results are then cataloged and managed by Akismet’s database program to benefit everyone tied into the network. When you mark comment spam as comment spam, I get the benefit on my blog. Together, we work as a community to fight off comment spammers.

Still, I think there is a great benefit to everyone to take advantage of the resources Akismet has accumulated and tie them in with big search engines to really put the hammer down on the greedy fingers of comment spammers.

I’d love to be part of that negotiation, too. 😉

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

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  1. Posted January 9, 2007 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    I love Akismet. Mind, I adore WordPress anyway, but Akismet has by far been the easiest and fastest way to allay concerns about spending hours wading through spam, which, in turn, has allowed me to aid others in converting to WordPress.

  2. Posted January 9, 2007 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    I’ve been using Akismet for ages and it’s great, but its greatest setback is that it still allows thousands of calls on my database that slow my server down to a dreaded turtle pace. Some days, I’ll get over 2,000 comment spams and my server will run so slow I want to slam my computer against a wall.

    However, yesterday I put Raven’s Antispam plugin on my blog. My comment spam has been reduced to NIL, and the calls on my database have dropped significantly.

    Combined with Akismet, this seems to be the best solution for blocking comment spam.

  3. Posted January 9, 2007 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    If we say “this url has been used from 100 spam last week, then we shall ban it from our search engine”, then it would be a bit too easy to ban any website from this search engine, including the one of your competitor. Wouldn’t it?

  4. Posted January 9, 2007 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    No doubt that Akismet has helped prevent lot of spam comments but I still don’t understand why Bad behaviour isn’t preferred over Akismet? I installed Bad behaviour on my blog and spam comments reduced to 0! Akismet wasn’t even needed!! Or is there something I don’t know?

  5. Posted January 9, 2007 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I love akismet, it works a treat on my blog, but recently tried it out on a phpbb forum I help support.

    We found that “legal” forum posts got blocked because people like to post holiday pictures (so lots of img tags) without any real content, so I guess akistmet couldn’t work it out. Getting search engine backing would be a great move as it would allow the database to learn about more spam than just blogs (in the same way we submit spam, so could the search engine), a unified system for blogs, forums, e-mail & mailing lists would be awesome !

  6. Posted January 9, 2007 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I love Akismet. It already helped me against 295 spammers. Also have it in use on 2 SMF forums.

    Thumbs up for Akismet.

  7. Posted January 9, 2007 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I’ve recently had a lot of comments from .info domains that all pass through Akismet.

  8. Matthijs
    Posted January 9, 2007 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I wonder when the spammers are fed up with it and start attacking the Akismet service directly with DOS attacks and stuff.

    Akismet is a centralized service isn’t it?

  9. Posted January 9, 2007 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I think Akismet is a great service and has really helped so many web masters save hours dealing with spam. The idea of SE’s working with Akismet’s data is awesome, but I think more thought can be put in this.

    There are three levels in all, where we can work on (just off my head)

    1. Delete the spam comment itself.
    2. Penalise the website the spam is used to “promote”, is any.
    3. Penalise the person owning the website!

    Mining Akismet’s data to observe which websites are the spammer site belong to the second level. However a major drawback to this approach is that websites do change hands, and so do IP addresses. This approach allows the spammers to wash away their dirt and leave a dirty domain in the web. Just imagine how you would feel if you bought a new domain and then realise every comment you make goes straight to spam!

    Should this collaboration also involve the name registrars, and every website that provides for user generated content? I don’t know how this is possible, because it seems like a crazily massive idea… but this way, we tackle spam at the root – the spammer himself!

  10. Posted January 9, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s an “interesting” idea but it makes me nervous.

    Like Matt says, it would be easy to automate spam comments that look like they come from a legit site. If, through mistakes or bad behaviour on the part of an ex employee or a competitor, your site were to vanish from search engines, it would take a lot of effort to work out why and to try to rectify the problem.

    Yes, do all we can to beat the spammers but when we begin to shoot ourselves in the feet, we have more problems!

  11. Posted January 9, 2007 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    sharique: the brilliant minds behind Bad Behavior are also working on Akismet. Bad Behavior has a specific use, and works differently and together with Akismet. I’d love to see them incorporated in many ways to stop the hits on the database as well as filtering comment spam.

  12. Posted January 9, 2007 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle, I put together a Greasemonkey reskin for the Akismet bin on blogs.

    I’d really appreciate if you could mention it in a post since you get so much more traffic than I do. 🙂

    * Moves navigation bar to the bottom instead of the top.
    * Reduces text size.
    * Truncates long comments.
    * Click to open a popup with full comment.

  13. Posted January 9, 2007 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Give me a bit to check it out and will do. Just for you. 😛

  14. Posted January 9, 2007 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I’ve update the document to clarify that it goes from 3-6 comments per screen of text to 17-20 comments per screen of text.

    Includes a nice side-by-side screenshot. Looking at the scrollbars is interesting because with the Greasemonkey script it’s about 5 screenfuls of comment spam per page, and without it is about 18 screenfuls of comment spam per page.

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