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What is Akismet and Why You Should Start Using it Right Away

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What is Akismet and Why You Should Start Using it Right Away

Every WordPress installation comes with two plugins pre-installed. One of them is Akismet, which is definitely in our list of must have WordPress plugins. Even though Akismet comes pre-installed, it is not activated by default. You will have to take some extra steps to activate it. In this article, we will explain what is Akismet and why you should start using it right away. We will also show you how to setup Akismet on your WordPress site.

What is Akismet?

Akismet is a comment spam filtering service. The name Akismet comes from Automattic and Kismet. Auttomatic is the company behind Akismet, and it was founded by the WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg. Akismet catches blog comment and pingback spam using their algorithms. This algorithm learns from its mistakes and from the actions taken by participating websites. For example, when a number of websites start reporting similar looking content as spam, then Akismet will learn to identify that kind of content as SPAM in the future. As of June 14, 2013, Akismet has caught more than 83 Billion spam comments.

Why you should use Akismet?

On popular websites, the amount of spam comments could get as high as 85%. This means out of every 100 comments only 15 are legitimate. Comment moderation is a time consuming task, and Akismet can save you hours. Akismet will catch spam comments before it lands in your moderation queue as pending. This allows you to focus your energy on moderating comments by real users.

Criticism by Users

In the past users have criticized Akismet for giving false positives. False positives are legitimate comments that gets marked as spam by Akismet. This can happen for variety of reasons. One of the most common reason is if a user’s comment is marked as spam by a number of blogs, then Akismet would learn to mark all comments by that user as spam. Like any other automated platform, Akismet is not perfect, but it is the best there is.

How to Know if your Comment was Detected as Spam

If your comment was marked as spam by Akismet, then you will not see the Awaiting Moderation notice like you normally would. If you submit a comment on a site, and you do not see your comment text along with a notice saying awaiting moderation, then you should immediately contact the site administrator. They can help pull your comment out of the spam box, and overtime Akismet will learn from its mistakes.

How to Set up Akismet in WordPress

First thing you need to do is go to Plugins and activate Akismet.

Activate Akismet in WordPress

Upon activation, Akismet adds a new menu item at Plugins » Akismet Configuration. Clicking on Akismet Configuration will take you to Akismet Configuration screen. On this page, you will be asked to enter your Akismet API Key. Leave this page open and open a new browser window. We will come back to this page after creating an API key for Akismet.

How to Get API Key for Akismet

In order to set up Akismet on your website, you need an API Key. Go to Akismet website and click on Get a WordPress Key Button.

Get an Akismet Key for your WordPress website

This will take you to Akismet plans and pricing page. Akismet is free for non-business and personal sites. For business websites, there are different plans and packages available. Choose an option that best suits you. The pricing is setup on honor system, so theoretically you can get away by using a personal plan on a low traffic site. No matter which plan you choose the remaining steps will be similar. Click on the Sign up button to proceed.

Choose an Akismet Subscription plan for your website

Clicking on the sign up will bring you to the next screen where you will be asked to sign up with WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a blog hosting service by Automattic, the same company that brings you Akismet. However, WordPress.com is not the same as your WordPress.org self hosted website. For more information, check out Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. Free WordPress.com [Infograph] and How are WordPress.com and WordPress.org Related. You can create a WordPress.com account without creating a blog. Click on Sign up with WordPress.com button to continue. This will open a pop up window with a simple sign up form.

Akismet sign up with WordPress.com Account

If you already have a WordPress.com account, then you can click on the link I already have a WordPress.com account. If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, then simply fill out the details and create one.

Once the authentication with WordPress.com is complete, you will be taken back to the Akismet website. There you will be asked to provide some user details along with the payment information. If you picked the free plan, then simply drag the price amount to $0.

Akismet signup and payment page

Click the continue button and you’ll be taken to the screen that shows your API key. You will also receive an email from Akismet containing your API Key.

Copy your Akismet API Key

Remember, an API key is like a password. Do not share it with anyone. In case you lose or forget your API key, you can always visit Akismet.com and click on the sign in button to access your account page. After signing in you will see your Akismet API key hidden. Click on Reveal link to display your API key.

Get your Akismet API Key anytime from your Akismet Account page

Using Akismet API Key in WordPress

Copy your Akismet API key and go back to your WordPress website’s admin area. Go to Plugins » Akismet Configuration and paste the API key. Rest of the options on this screen are optional. Once you click on Update Options button, Akismet will now verify your key and show you a success message:

Akismet all set up and ready to catch spam

Showing Akismet Stats on Back and Front-end of your Site

After logging in to your WordPress website, you will see an overview of Akismet Stats. It will show you the number of Spam comments caught by Akismet, and how many of them are in your spam queue right now. It is highly recommended that you take a look at your spam queue every once in a while so that you don’t miss a legitimate comment getting deleted by mistake.

Akismat stats overview on WordPress admin dashboard

There is a detailed view of Akismat stats available under Dashboard » Akismat Stats menu item. Clicking on it will show you detailed statistics of spam and ham comments on your website. You can also see the number of spam comments caught by Akismet since you activated it.

Detailed Akismet Stats for Ham and Spam comments on your website

If you want to display the number of spam comments Akismet has caught on your website, then you can use the Akismet Widget. Go to Appearance » Widgets, drag and drop Akismet Widget to your sidebar.

Akismet widget to display the number of spam comments caught by the plugin

We hope this article helped you set up Akismet on your website, get an Akismet API Key and learn why Akismet is important. Spam comments is a big issue faced by many WordPress sites. As your site grow, you will find that you need other options to work along side with Akismet to reduce the amount of spam. For example, you can block spam comment bots in WordPress with honeypot. Since most spammers want to leave spam links on your website, you can remove website URL field from WordPress comment form like we do. We have also compiled a list of tips and tools to combat comment spam in WordPress. For questions and feedback please leave a comment below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  • RW

    Akismet is an awesome plugin. I do agree with some of the other posters here that it’s worth pointing out that it is not free. The Editors point out that it’s free for personal, non-business blogs, but I don’t believe the majority of your readers are interested in personal, non-business websites.

    I was saddened when Akismet went the paid route, but I understand. It’s a great plugin if you have the budget for it…

  • John Brinkley

    What does the ‘Filter’ button do between ‘Show all comments’ dropdown box and ‘Empty Spam’ button?

  • Justagurlinseattle

    This Akismet is marking almost every reply I write as spam.

    It is getting rather frustrating. I see that they like to keep a running count as to how
    much spam it is blocking, however, if 8 out of 10 of my replies are being marked as spam,
    this is a highly inflated number of comments that are not spam.

    I tried using my wordpress account to log in and make my comments, this did not work,
    so I tried logging in via my Twitter account, this also did not work.

    The Admins inform me that they are not able to retrieve my comments.

    Can you help me???
    any suggestions as to what I should do????

    any suggestions as to how the Admins of that blog can release my comments????

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

      Contact Akismet support. Your comment is not marked spam for no reason. For example, if you comment on example.com and a moderator thinks that your comment is spammy and marks it as spam. Then your future comments on example.com will automatically go to spam. Until an admin or moderator on example.com looks into spam and unmarks your comment.

  • Dineen Miller

    I made a query at the Akismet site but didn’t get an answer so maybe you can answer my question? I’m looking at the Pro plan for my site but I want to know if commenters will be required to answer some kind of security question. Is this standard on Akismet? A feature we can turn on or off? Or does this plug in work completely in the background of the site? Thank you!

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

      It works completely in the background.

  • Abdullah Munir

    Its not free which was worth mentioning.

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      It’s free for personal blog users.

      • Abdullah Munir

        Yes, but do you really think that it would provide that professional level service for spamming?

  • Betsy

    Does it bother anyone else that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are used interchangeably? I’m trying to figure out if Akismet works with WordPress.com but all I can find is that it’s a plugin available for .org. Meanwhile, you need to register in .com to get an API account. I have a blog through wordpress.com but since they don’t allow plugins, I can’t figure out how or if Akismet runs on WordPress.com. Does anyone have the answer to this? Am I missing something?

    I know there is a widget that I can put on wordpress.com for Akismet but all it does is allow you to show it on your sidebar but it doesn’t actually do anything. Very frustrating!

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      WordPress.com automatically runs Akismet. But if you want to register an API, there are more than one ways available now. You can go to the official Akismet site to apply for an API. Furthermore, you can also register a WordPress.com account without a blog, and get an API as well.

      WordPress.org although, the plugin must be enabled for it to run. It does not run by default like WordPress.com site does.

      • Matt

        Its not free, though, which is important to mention.

  • http://www.exactwebmarketing.com/blog Ethan

    There’s some changes with akismet. Now you can actually apply directly from akismet website.

    http://akismet.com/personal/

  • http://www.nutt.net Ryan

    83% spam seems low to me. I would have guessed mid to upper 90s for the percentage of spam comments. But that would just be a guess and Akismet has the data to back it up.

    I’m always amazed how many people don’t know about Akismet when they setup a blog. Almost seems like it should be on by defaults and signing up for an API key should be part of the process setting up a new blog.

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      Yeah even though Akismet comes bundled with WordPress, Many bloggers continue to ignore it because they do not know how to get this API.

      • Caitlin Dundon

        The thing that is currently confusing me is that I switched from wordpress.com to wordpress.org and I downloaded the plugin – but when I go to the Askimet site it asks for my wordpress.com login…which I still have, but I am not using that blog anymore since I am now selfhosted…Will that key still work with my selfhosted blog?

        • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

          This is a recent change that they made. The answer to your question is yes it will still work.

  • http://www.comm100.com/livechat/ Tim Live Chat

    Fighting spam is a must. My previous company has a forum. Guess PHPBB is too popular, we need to spend several hours per day to clean up the spam posts.

  • http://wpantivirus.com Sergej Müller

    Please test http://antispambee.com – the simple antispam plugin for wordpress. It’s easy.