How to Use the Akismet Plugin to Combat Comment Spam in WordPress

Akismet is the mother of all plugins, and no WordPress blog is complete without a fully activated version. Apparently WordPress agrees, because the plugin has been packaged in every WordPress software release since version 2.0. Akismet is the answer to comment and trackback spam.

To use the plugin, follow these steps:

  1. On the Plugins page on your WordPress Dashboard, click the Activate link under the Akismet plugin name.

    A box appears at the top of the page, saying Activate your Akismet account. Almost done – activate your account and say goodbye to comment spam.

  2. Click the Activate Your Akismet Account button.

    Clicking this link takes you to the Akismet page on your WordPress Dashboard, where you can create an Akismet key, which is required in order to use the Akismet plugin.

  3. Click the Create a New Akismet Key button.

    This opens the Akismet website in your browser window.

  4. Click the Get an Akismet API Key button.

    This opens the signup page on the Akismet website. Because Akismet is hooked into the WordPress.com service, if you already have a WordPress.com account, just click the I Already Have a Wordpress.com Account link; otherwise, fill in the text fields and provide your e-mail address, desired username, and password to create one.

    Click OK to authorize your account with Akismet.

  5. Enter the URL of the site where you’ll use Akismet and select a plan:

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

    • Professional: $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.

  6. 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 selecting Copy.

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

  8. Click the I Already Have a Key link and enter the API key in the Akismet API Key text box. Click the Save Changes button to fully activate the Akismet plugin.

On the Akismet Configuration page, after you’ve entered and saved your key, you have two options 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 it 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 the plugin hasn’t captured any legitimate comments or trackbacks.

You can rescue those nonspam-captured comments and trackbacks by doing the following (after you’ve logged on to your WordPress Dashboard):

  1. Click the Comments 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 legitimate comments or trackbacks.

  4. If you locate one that’s legitimate, click the Approve link directly below the entry.

    The comment is marked as legitimate — in other words, you don’t consider that comment to be spam. The comment is then approved and published on your blog.

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