Activating Akismet to Control Spam on Your WordPress Blog

No blogger likes spam. In fact, blogging services such as WordPress have spent untold hours in the name of stopping spammers in their tracks, and for the most part, the services have been successful. Occasionally, however, spammers sneak through.

Many spammers are offensive, and all of them are frustrating because they don’t contribute to the ongoing conversations that occur in blogs. (A spammer’s only goal is to generate traffic to his website.)

All WordPress installations have one significant thing in common: Akismet, a WordPress plugin. Akismet is the mother of all plugins and that no WordPress blog is complete without a fully activated version of Akismet running in it.

Akismet is already included in every WordPress installation, so you don’t have to worry about downloading and installing it, because it’s already there. Follow these steps to activate and begin using Akismet:

  1. Click the Plugins link on the left navigation menu of the Dashboard to load the Plugins page.

  2. Click the Activate link below the Akismet plugin name and description.

    A yellow box appears at the top of the page, saying Akismet is almost ready. You must enter your Akismet API key for it to work. An API key is a string of numbers and letters that functions like a unique password given to you by Akismet; it’s the key that allows your WordPress.org application to communicate with your Akismet account.

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  3. Click the link in the yellow box to navigate to the Akismet Configuration page.

  4. If you have an API key, enter it in the Akismet API Key text field and then click the Update Options button to save your changes.

    You can stop here if you already have a key, but if you do not have an Akismet key, keep following the steps.

  5. Click the Akismet.com link on the Akismet Configuration page.

    The Akismet website opens.

  6. Click the Get an Akismet API Key button.

    The signup page on the Akismet website opens, where you can choose from several different options for obtaining an Akismet key:

    • Enterprise: $50/month for people who own multiple WordPress-powered websites and want to use Akismet on all of them.

    • Pro: $5/month for people who own one small, nonpersonal (or business) WordPress-powered site.

    • Personal: $0–$120/year for people who own one small, personal, WordPress-powered blog. You can choose to pay nothing ($0), or if you’d like to contribute a little cash toward the cause of combating spam, you can opt to spend up to $120 per year for your Akismet key subscription.

  7. Select and pay for (if needed) your Akismet key.

    After you’ve gone through the signup process, Akismet provides you with an API key. Copy that key by selecting it with your mouse pointer, right-clicking, and choosing Copy.

  8. When you have your API key, go to the Akismet Configuration page by clicking the Akismet Configuration link on the Plugins menu on your WordPress Dashboard.

  9. Enter the API key in the Akismet API Key text box and click the Update Options button to fully activate the Akismet plugin.

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On the Akismet Configuration Page, after you’ve entered and saved your key, you also have two options that you can select to further manage your spam protection:

  • Auto-delete Spam Submitted on Posts More Than a Month Old: Enable this option by selecting the check box next to it to tell Akismet to automatically delete spam comments on posts that are more than a month old.

  • Show The Number of Comments You’ve Approved Beside Each Comment Author: Enable this option by selecting the check box next to it to tell Akismet to display the number of approved comments each comment author on your blog has.

Akismet catches spam and throws it into a queue, holding the spam for 15 days and then deleting it from your database. It’s probably worth your while to check the Akismet Spam page once a week to make sure that the plugin hasn’t captured any legitimate comments or trackbacks.

You can rescue those non-spam captured comments and trackbacks by following these steps (after you log in to your WordPress Dashboard):

  1. Click Comments on the left navigation menu.

    The Comments page appears, displaying a list of the most recent comments on your blog.

  2. Click the Spam link.

    The Comments page now displays all spam comments that the plugin caught.

  3. Browse through the list of spam comments, looking for any comments or trackbacks that are legitimate.

  4. If you locate a comment or trackback that’s legitimate, click the Approve link directly below the entry.

    The comment is marked as legitimate. In other words, WordPress recognizes that you don’t consider this comment to be spam. WordPress then approves the comment and publishes it on your blog.

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