Q&A about Akismet with Pete Davies

(a-kĭz-mĭt)

Pete Davies is a Business Engineer at Automattic and you’ll probably find him writing articles on the Akismet blog.

Akismet is an anti-spam filter for comments. If you visit the website, Akismet is described as “possibly the best way in the world to protect you from web spam”, which from my experience is not far from the truth.

However, with over 9 million websites that use Akismet on a daily basis, questions about privacy and differences between the personal and commercial account are bound to appear and Pete was really open to answer a few of them.

Akismet filters out your comment and track-back spam for you, so you can focus on more important things.

Question: Tell us a bit about what you do over at Akismet and Automattic.
Answer: I work with the Premium Services group at Automattic, which is responsible for VaultPress, VideoPress and Akismet.

Question: What are there any limits on the free account?
Answer: Yes, as stated in our ToS, each Personal API Key should be used only on one site, and with no more than 80,000 comments/month. (There’s no restriction on the number of Personal API Keys that someone can have, however).

Question: Does a site that displays ads fits under the Commercial account?
Answer: I think your question is the wrong way around. Can a site with ads ever be under a personal account? Absolutely. Personal doesn’t mean you can’t make any money at all — just that it needs to be for a personal site. If you make beer money from some Google AdSense, that’s great — we have no desire to take that off you.

Question: Will Akismet enforce users to move from Free to Commercial (of course, if they are using it for commercial sites)
Answer: If we notice a site or an API Key that is blatantly abusing our Terms of Service then yes, we absolutely will ask them to move to a paid subscription, or stop using Akismet. We always give plenty of notice.

Question: Will Akismet add a back charge in case of users that should be under Commercial but are still using the Free account.
Answer: We’ve never asked anybody for back payments. I don’t expect that we’d ever start either.

Question: Anything else you might want to mention to Akismet users?
Answer: Akismet now filters close to 2 billion pieces of spam every month from over 9 million websites. That takes a lot of resources to keep the service up and running reliably and with the accuracy levels that we have. Some people seem to think that the service should be free — we simply couldn’t afford to do that… so somebody has to pay something. I’m always open to ideas about how we could structure our subscriptions better, but this is the best and fairest we’ve been able to come up with to date.

Conclusions

While Akismet isn’t perfect for everyone, I think they’re doing a pretty good job keeping spam away from millions of blogs.

Other solutions exist like Anti-Spam Bee (I’m currently using it and I’m happy with it), but they are based on some smart css/javascript/php tricks and mostly work because spam-bots are stupid.

As the spam-bots continue to increase in complexity the only thing that will stop it will be human curation and machine learning. The only way to achieve something like this is to use a centralized service like Akismet or if some smart guy/gall will go and build a decentralized system similar to BitCoin. (although I might be talking about fairy tales here since I don’t know how BitCoin really works)

About Cristian Antohe

Cristian Antohe is the co-founder Cozmoslabs. He's a WordPress developer, web designer and Open Source fanatic. He's part of the team that developed Profile Builder and WordPress Creation Kit and also helps curate wpMail.me.

Find me on: Google + | Twitter

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