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Do Not Delete Comment Spam. Mark Spam as Spam.

WordPress Tips and TechniquesIs comment spam one of the things that gets you down? Are you taking it personally? Are you confused by comment spam and how to handle it?

I’ve been speaking at a variety of meetups lately on web publishing, blogging, and podcasting, and the topics often turn to managing comments and comment spam. “I’ve started getting a lot of porn comments lately.” “I’m so sick of all those credit card spammers.” “I spend too much time and energy on comment spam, I just don’t know what to do.” “I seem to spend all my time deleting comment spam and it just keeps coming back.”

My answer is always the same: Use the on WordPress, Movable Type, Drupal, phpBB, Joomla, and other web publishing platforms. Mark comment spam as spam and do not delete it to help Akismet do its job.

It appears that I have to be more blatant. If you delete comment spam, you make matters worse, so let me make myself clear.


Akismet works if we all work together. It’s a crowd sourced project. I mark a comment as spam and the data is transferred to Akismet’s database. You mark a similar comment as spam and Akismet begins to do the work of processing the data and filtering out comments across everyone using Akismet, thus, you don’t get the comment spam that I and some others got, and I don’t get the comment spam you and others marked as spam. Together we make the world a safer place to blog.


While there might be some jerk who likes sniping at you on your blog, comment spam is not personal.

The majority of comment spam is created by two different methods. The first and most common is by automation. A “bot” follows links to and from websites with comments to leave comments. Some bots are highly sophisticated and target sites by content related to subject matter and topics, which explains why that credit card or mortgage post receives more credit card and mortgage comment spams than your other posts.

A growing percentage of comment spam is created by humans called human spammers. Many of these are people moving up in the world from email spam to comment spam, all the same thing. Using low paying incentive sweat-shop projects to get people to search for high traffic and/or related content sites and putting on comments with links to their employer sites.

Akismet deals with both.

When you start to take comment spam personally, you may choose to put roadblocks in the path of your legitimate commenters and audiences. Don’t. CAPTCHAs are usually the first choice, the dumb number and spelling tests you have to fill out to prove you are a human being. Since most automated bots are programmed in very short time to break through every road block put in their path (if they didn’t they’d lose money), and human spammers can solve these in seconds, CAPTCHAs have been proven repeatedly to not work. Someone is always coming out with a better mouse trap, but trust me, Since about 2005, nothing has worked better consistently than Akismet.

Matt Mullenweg and his team came up with a powerful process of collecting comment spam data from every Akismet user and collating it into prevention filters. Take advantage of them and help them do their job to protect sites from comment spam.

Consider this a public service announcement. DO NOT DELETE COMMENT SPAM. MARK SPAM AS SPAM. If we all work together, we can make the world a happier place to blog.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Posted May 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    As usual Lorelle makes herself perfectly clear and I intend to obey her message. I must do so otherwise she will not reply to may emails!

  2. Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Lorelle! And, thanks for coming to our meet-up today. I could listen to you all day!!

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      You are so sweet. I couldn’t listen to myself all day, so thanks for the kind words. What a great group of people. Seriously passionate and fabulous. Let me know how I can help in any way!

  3. Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Good advice, it’s a very powerful and useful plugin. Tell me, is it ok to use the same Akismet API Key across many sites – I don’t mean multisite, not sure you can do that anyway?


    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Check Akismet’s licensing for how it works. The free version is for personal sites, not commercial. If you make money with your site, it’s nice to share the wealth for something that can save you 20 minutes to over an hour EVERY day, and protect the experience of your visitors, too. Nothing is worse for your reputation than someone landing on a spam filled post.

  4. Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Anyone running a blog without spam protection software like Akismet can’t possibly be serious about blogging. Akismet captures and removes hundreds of spam comments from my blogs every week. Flagging the spam comments it misses as spam educates Akismet and makes it work better.

    Manually going through all comments and deleting them is a time-consuming chore and waste of resources when a freely available tool works so well.

    Listen to Lorelle’s advice here: use Akismet and flag any spam comments it misses as spam!

  5. Posted May 11, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately the Akismet plugin for other platforms is not so at the state-of-the-art as for WordPress (ie. the Joomla’s one is 2009 old) and so I don’t think is really appealing to many …

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      The Joomla Plugin and other ones are community driven by those communities. Nag them or get on the ball and update it yourself. It’s not hard. 😀

  6. Jamie Hibbert
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    A really interesting post and glad I have taken the time to read it. I have simply deleted all spam, not marked it. I have considered that nothing is learning from this process and I am in no way feeding back into the system.

    I just wish I could prevent spam users signing up to my forum, thinking they are going to get a link from a profile page – I have requested bots not to venture there!

    • Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      As you’ve learned from the post, the system is learning – if people mark spam as spam and not delete it – and Akismet learns. Registration spam is different and a plague. I’ve talked about that before. The only way to prevent comment spam is to make comment spam unprofitable. Same with email. These companies make a living – a billion dollar industry – because people fall for the email and comment spam. Don’t fall for it, they make no money. They make no money, they don’t hire people to spam. That’s the only way. Help us all do our best to make this an unprofitable business.

  7. Oscar Gonzalez aka @notagrouch
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Well said! Akismet works so well because so many people do submit spam reports, but many other people I’ve met or helped out seem to prefer to just delete instead. But we just explain and it’s done! Glad I’m not alone on this one.

  8. Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, I have a question. When Akismet automatically identifies comments as spam and relocates them to the spam folder, under the comments are two options: Not Spam and Delete Permanently.

    Isn’t it good to then use the Delete Permanently option, because it is clearly already identified as Spam (by our not choosing Not Spam)? Is there an extra step to report that spam to Akismet, or is that automatic once it is in the Akismet spam folder?

    • Posted May 20, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Akismet will delete these automatically. Why waste time hovering over them and doing something in the spam panel? My advice is for the Comments Panel. Mark them as spam and they will go to the Spam Panel. Once there, ignore them. Akismet will delete them all permanently on a set time schedule.

  9. Posted June 3, 2012 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    Can we set time for automatic delete of spam comments?

    • Posted June 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Comments with Akismet automatically delete and currently I don’t believe there is a way to change that date. I just ignore them and forget about them automatically deleting, which I love.

  10. profromgo2758
    Posted June 3, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I love that WP installs Akismet by default and going to get my Akismet API key is something that I do for every new blog we create for our own personal use and for those of our clients. Thanks for sharing the great tips. I make it a habit of marking spam as spam. I’ve always wondered if there’s a better of way of detecting that a bot is leaving a comment versus and actual visitor but I guess it’s easier to base that logic on the subject matter of the comment itself.

  11. Mas Crazant
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    will it otomatic move on spam folder ? im using capcha pluugin and akismet antispam, i hope its work

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      If you mark spam as spam, it is moved automatically to the spam folder. You need do nothing more, except remove the captcha Plugin as it does you no good and gets in the way of your user’s experience.

  12. Jefry
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Every day I always get the blog comment spam that comes through the automatic software

    Is there a plugin that can help eliminate automated spam all comments that come to use software like this ?
    Please give information

    • Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Akismet is the best WordPress Plugin for fighting comment spam. You will NEVER get rid of all comment spam, but using Akismet makes you a member of a spam fighting team so we all help stop and cut down the comment spam. I describe the process in the article. Thanks.

  13. Leo Ari Wibowo
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I read somewhere that Akismet is always making mistakes by marking spam on genuine comments. That’s why I didn’t use Akismet. But now,… since the anti spam plugin I use not working correctly (genuine comments go to spam folder and spams go to pending folder), and knowing (just now) that Akismet is a crowd sourced project, I think I’m gonna try Akismet.

    I also want to make the world a safer place to blog 🙂

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry you read something that wasn’t true. The web is filled with misinformation, unfortunately. I’m glad you decided to give it a try and make the world a safer place. 😀 Thanks!

    • Ryan
      Posted March 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      In my experience Akismet has been accurate 99% of the time. I do occasionally get some comments that are erroneously marked as spam, though, so I go through them regularly.

  14. teachercloud
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on SEO Issues and Website Marketing Blog and commented:
    In Lorelle’s blog, she explains why we should not delete comment spam that plagues our forums and blogs but rather we should mark each spam comment as spam so that Askimet can filter it out in the future.

  15. teachercloud
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Great post, had to reblog it. Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. thomasvs
    Posted August 27, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I agree people should use Akismet.

    However, once you do, is there any good reason to keep spam around?

    Personally, I don’t like keeping 500K+ spam comments around in my database, it takes a lot of space and slow things down.

    • Posted August 28, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Akismet is crowd sourced. If spam gets through, it is another attempt by the spammers to try a new technique. Keep marking them as spam.

      As for the spam in your database, it is cleared on a regular basis, but if you wish to clear it out yourself, you may do so. You will find a solution on how to do this in Find, Search, Replace, and Delete in the WordPress Database.

      • thomasvs
        Posted August 28, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Ok, that’s what I understood. By the way, there’s a certain treshold after which wordpress no longer cleans out spam automatically. I suppose it has to do with how long the delete query takes and having apache timeout before that.

        In my case, I had 514K+ comments marked for spam in my case, and the only way to delete them was to run a manual mysql query that took over 6 minutes.

      • Posted August 28, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        I’m sure there is a threshold, but 500K isn’t much. I’ve cleaned out gigs. 😦 They are usually left there by migrations and changes to the system that disrupt Akismet’s functionality, to my understanding. It’s then that I find them stockpiled. Thanks!

14 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  10. […] In 2005, a report came out saying Americans spent 40% of their time online deleting spam. Most of that was from email, so increase that for bloggers deleting it from email and blogs. That’s a huge amount of time going down the drain. While most email services have vastly improved their email spam filters, and sites using Akismet save time with the crowd-sourced comment spam fighter, it’s still a lot of time wasting with no return other than a feel-good that you are helping others avoid spam by marking spam as spam not deleting it. […]

  11. […] works through crowd-sourcing models. The user does not delete the comment spam, just marks it as spam and the comment spam information is added to a huge database which monitors and tracks comment spam […]

  12. […] areas over a decade ago, and like in our email inbox, there seems to be no escape. Just remember to use Akismet to crowd source the comment spam prevention. Currently it is the best tool we […]

  13. […] Mark comment spam as spam and protect the good comments. This keeps legitimate commenters from being in the spam comment queue, sends comment spam to the comment spam database to help all of us fight comment spam on our blogs, and keeps our blogs clean for our readers. […]

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