Akismet Saves Kansas City

akkcAkismet is a distributed team with members from all over the world (from Australia to Ireland to South Dakota). So, a couple of times each year, the team gets together to hang out and work on some fun projects. This past week, we all got together in Kansas City, Missouri (mainly for access to Google Fiber!). We were pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do around the city and found its midwestern charm quite lovely. The area of town we stayed in, known as ‘The Crossroads’, was full of great food and interesting sights to take in.

Heavy ReadingOnce we were finished with our projects and made sure that the world was safe from spam, we went searching for fun. We discovered that Kansas City is home to the world’s only subterranean paintball course, where an old limestone mine was converted into a colorful battleground. It was a really unique and fantastic experience – minus the bruises! Highly recommended if you ever visit.

The most visible change around here as a result of the meetup is our new and improved home page. The old version had been around for quite some time, and our designer, Dan, had a really great vision for moving it forward. Super clean, a great flow, and with some awesome custom illustrations. There is even a little easter egg for you to discover (hint: contra)!

May Stats Roundup

Welcome to the second post in a series of monthly articles summarizing some stats and figures from the Akismet universe. You can find April’s post here.

Atos Olympic Games male swimmers diving two London 2012 by Atos on Flickr

This image is a derivative of ‘Atos Olympic Games male swimmers diving two London 2012‘ by Atos. Used under CC BY-SA

In May, Akismet caught a total of 6,562,229,410 pieces of spam – including comments, forum posts, contact form submissions, etc. To visualize this number, picture each piece of spam as a sugar cube – that’d be enough sugar cubes to fill about 6 and a fifth Olympic swimming pools.

The amount of spam we caught in May is up 4% from last month, and up 269% from May 2012. Here’s a breakdown of the spam and ham we detected each day:

Akismet Spam and Ham Stats, May 2014

There weren’t any big dips or highs during the month of May. The busiest day of the month was May 8, with just over 230 million spam messages detected. The slowest day was May 25, with ‘only’ about 178 million pieces of spam caught. You may have seen similar ups and downs in the spam activity on your own site.

We had no service interruptions this month, so any fluctuations in spam numbers we attribute to the natural way spam is posted. If you want to hear about any service interruptions you can subscribe to this blog, or follow us on Twitter.

As usual, there’s much more spam going around than real comments (which we call ham). You can see this by looking at the purple bars in the graph.

Akismet detected a total of 294,312,590 real messages in May. If each real comment were a sugar cube, they’d only enough be enough to fill about 10% of one Olympic swimming pool.

In May, we missed only about 1 in every 7,404 spam messages. If you’ve seeing lots of missed spam comments on your own site, we are happy to help with that, so feel free to contact us about it, and please include your website & your API key in your message.

Some reads from the month that we recommend:
This month, we rather enjoyed reading this piece by Adrienne LaFrance about the history of spam (going back to snail mail!), and how it affects us nowadays. We also liked Seth Godin’s sage advice (as always) on how not to spam people as a business, but still get business. In fact, in July Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation will come into effect (similar to CAN-SPAM), making the suggestions Seth Godin recommends, and even stricter rules around emailing, into law, which should make Canadians much happier with their inboxes :). We like where this is going!

A Custom Measure of Akismet Performance

Just a little something for the weekend.

Chris Hemedinger, a technical architect at SAS, recently published a great post on his personal analysis of Akismet’s effectiveness across an entire network of company blogs.

He uses his own company’s software to connect to his WordPress database and aggregate data from all Akismet-protected sites on the network. He then produces some really interesting charts and graphs for the purpose of analyzing spam activity and Akismet’s performance. Chris also makes it clear that having to manually deal with all that spam can be quite time-consuming.

And we tend to agree. :)

April Stats Roundup

This is the first in a series of monthly posts rounding up some basic stats and figures from the prior month. Because we thought that you may like to know how we’ve been doing and also get a better perspective of spam activity across the web.

This was a special month, as April 12 marked the 20-year anniversary of commercialized spam, which is attributed to two US immigration lawyers. Happy Birthday, I guess?

Akismet caught 6,284,116,547 pieces of spam content (comments, forum posts, contact form submissions, etc.). That’s down around 6% since last month and up around 103% over April 2013. The peak of spam activity was Tuesday April 15 (the same day that Akismet 3.0 was released, coincidentally), when our service blocked over 252 million pieces of spam content. The daily breakdown goes a little something like this:

Akismet Spam Stats, April 2014

There was a bit of an interesting lull at the end of the first week, though nothing much of note to discuss. You may have certainly noticed some corresponding trends on your own site. We experienced no downtime or service interruptions throughout the month, so any dips in the chart simply manifest lower periods of general spam activity.

We missed only about 1 in every 6,904 pieces of spam content (0.0145%).

So, what does over 6 billion pieces of spam content really look like? If you assigned each piece of spam content its own seat, you could fill nearly 125,000 Yankee Stadiums.

Some reads from the month that we recommend:
+ A reluctant ‘happy birthday’ to spam
+ The rise of bad bots
+ Zombie spam!
+ Is spam the latest weapon of the US government?
+ Spam sushi is real

There’s a Ninja in Your Akismet

One of our favorite additions to Akismet 3.0 is the new discard setting. Previously, our plugin featured an option that allowed site owners the ability to automatically discard spam on older posts. But, as some may certainly agree, it was rather confusing and had little effect on the world’s smarter spammers.

After giving thought to how we could improve that particular setting and the overall user experience, we found that approximately 80% of spam could be flagged as “pervasive”, meaning that it is the absolute worst of the worst (of the worst!). In fact, that 80% is so bad that there is simply no benefit in paying any attention to it at all. Not even for kicks and giggles. Trust us.

We came up with something that would allow you to automatically and silently discard all of that pervasive spam attacking your site so that it never even appears in your “Spam” folder. The new setting identifies the worst and most pervasive spam (which can certainly change over time) on our side during the comment check and will immediately discard it if you’ve configured the plugin to do so.

If you’re new to Akismet, these spam comments will be stored by default; you must activate the new feature from the plugin’s configuration page (if you upgraded to 3.0, Akismet will use the previous value of your 30-day discard setting) :

Akismet Discard Spam Feature

It’s all very ninja-esque, we think. What’s more, enabling the feature can result in significant reductions in your storage and resource usage requirements.

This is a great step forward in our mission to make the web a cleaner place. We tested the feature on WordPress.com and received excellent results and feedback prior to rolling it into the plugin. So, we think (and hope) you’ll enjoy it. We are also working on an enhancement to the feature, which will highlight the pervasive spam comments in the “Spam” folder for users who choose to store them.

If you have any feedback on the new feature, we would love to hear from you.

New in 3.0: Activation with Jetpack

We launched Akismet 3.0 just a few days ago and hope that you’ve already upgraded to enjoy its many new features. One of the nifty items we added to the mix is a seamless activation process using the popular Jetpack plugin.

Let’s take a closer look.

If you have Jetpack and Akismet installed and activated on your site – and the Jetpack plugin connected to a WordPress.com account – you will find this new feature in your dashboard via Jetpack → Akismet.

There, you will see which WordPress.com account is connected via Jetpack and an option to activate the Akismet plugin using that very same account.

Akismet Activation with Jetpack

Click on Use this Akismet account, and you’re all set! Of course, you will have the option to disconnect the account at any time from the same page in your dashboard.

And if you want to use a different account to activate Akismet, no worries at all. Simply select the option to register a different email address or manually enter an existing API key.

Digging the new flow? Any problems with it? Drop us a line.

Akismet 3.0.0 is now available

Version 3.0.0 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress is now available.

This is a major rewrite of the plugin code. It includes many small improvements and some new features. In particular:

  • An easier signup and activation process
  • An even easier activation process for Jetpack users
  • A redesigned configuration tab
  • New stats charts (example shown below)
  • A new discard feature for outright blocking of the worst spam

stats-at-a-glance

To update to version 3.0.0, just use the plugin updater in your WordPress dashboard. If you’re running WordPress 3.9, there’s no need to update. If you haven’t installed Akismet on your WordPress blog yet, follow these instructions to get started.

Thanks again to everyone who helped test the new plugin and offered suggestions and bug reports.

Help test the next Akismet plugin

We’ve been hard at work on version 3.0 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress. It’s a major rewrite of the plugin code that includes a new configuration page, improved signup and activation, and some new features. We’ve shed most of the legacy code that was maintained for backwards compatibility with ancient versions of WordPress, and redesigned the code so we can bring you new features in coming months.

Since it’s a major change from previous versions, we could use your help testing the new plugin before its final release. If you’re comfortable manually installing a plugin in WordPress, you can download akismet.3.0.0-RC1.zip or use the 3.0.0-RC1 tag in the Subversion repository.

Try it out and tell us what you think – we have some exclusive Akismet swag for those who send bug reports and the most helpful feedback. Bug reports and detailed feedback is best sent via our contact form. You can leave general public feedback in comments below or on Twitter.

If you’re not sure how to install the plugin manually, or you’re not willing to run pre-release code on your site, we recommend waiting for the final release, which we expect to coincide with next week’s launch of WordPress 3.9.