Akismet: Simple Comment Spam Filtering

So I have developed a few websites in the past year that included blogs. One of the big issues is comment spam. Normally the standard procedure has been to implement reCaptcha. While I do love helping to digitze books recently several methods have come to light forbypassing reCaptcha. The amount of Viagra comments started to get to an extreme. There are certainly some less creative solutions such as automatically dropping comments with certain keywords, or blocking comments from outside of the country. You could also simply block all comments by default and approve comments as they come but that inhibits active discussion on posts, and frankly is kind of crappy.

I did some research and happened upon Akismet. This service offers a pay as much as you want model which I love. You can pay as little as nothing or as much as 120/yr. Now that I found a service the question came down to implementation. I found this fantastic gem called rakismet which offers easy integration and provides helper methods for checking if a message is spam, and best of all, letting them know if a comment was truly spam or not via api calls.

I wont dive into the setup of the Gem because the instructions are really fantastic. I do want to briefly talk a bit about a great way to implement this functionality to place comments marked as spam into a queue for approval or deletion.

My Comment Model includes:

The important thing here is really the approved bit, as by default, comments are approved. When you iterate of your comments you can check to see if approved is true before displaying the comment in your view.

Our comment controller might look something like…

The important thing to note in the exampe above is the spam method. When we call it on comment this reaches out to the Akismet API and checks the comment to see if its considered spam. The API will return either true or false, which if true means the comment is spam and thus sets its approved status to false. You can now leverage this data in your admin panel or whever to see your comments that are pending approval.

So the best thing about this service, is that you get to help improve it. You can use something like the below to help Akismet learn which comments are spam and which arent.


Overall my experience with the service so far has been excellent. Integration is easy with any rails app, documentation is excellent, and you cant beat the pricing model of pay whatever you want. You’re users are happy because they dont have to try to guess the hard to read words, solve a math problem, orselect the cats.

TL;DR: Captcha’s are dead. Get rid of them, and start effortlessly filtering comments with Akismet.

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