This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell
Late last year, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, launched a brash new anti-spam product for blogs called Akismet. Of course, at the time of launch, I took the product to task but quickly changed my tune as I understood the system better.
When I installed Akismet at Technosailor, I was truly amazed at how well it handled spam. Literally, I went to maybe one comment a month that needed to be moderated. That was with no comment moderation enabled (save Akismet’s), and only Akismet installed as an anti-spam plugin. I was truly amazed.
So when I heard about Akismet being released for Movable Type last week, I had to go check it out (even though I only own a sandbox Movable Type blog).
In typical fashion, the way to install Akismet (which can be downloaded here), is to upload to the Movable Type plugins directory. Excuse my ignorance of Movable Type, but I expected that the plugin would have to be activated at this point but apparently that is only a WordPress thing. (I shudder to think what happens when some malicious script kiddy writes a MT “plugin” full of malicious Perl code that gets activated automatically on a blog – but I digress).
Because my Movable Type blog is a non-published blog, it was hard for me to determine how exactly Akismet sorts comments/trackbacks it believes is spam. With WordPress, there’s a queue of comments that Akismet isn’t sure about in the moderation queue and then another queue of “scrubbed” comments. I imagine Movable Type handles comments in a similar fashion.
The important thing, I think, to know about Akismet is that it handles spam through a centralized service that learns from the bleeding edge. In other words, by learning what is spam from WordPress, WordPress.com and Movable Type blogs together, Akismet becomes stronger and more efficient.
was the guy who ported Akismet to Movable Type (Actually it was Tim Appenl) has some interesting insight in the comments over at John Batelle’s blog on the inner workings as it pertains to MT as well.
With WordPress, those two levels are identical in terms of server impact, since everything is dynamic. With Movable Type, publishing always requires a page rebuild, which is CPU-expensive. So the more you can prevent unnecessary publishing, the lower the impact on the server. What you really want to do is prevent spam submissions from triggering page rebuilds. Akismet is great at preventing unneccessary publishing, but so are a lot of other spam fighting tools. Fortunately, Akismet has a VERY low false positive
rate, so virtually all of its estimations about what is/is not spam are correct.
Nutshell: Akismet/MT doesn’t reduce the overall number of database inserts, but it does reduce the number of CGI-based page rebuilds that are ultimately triggered.
I’d really be interested to know if anyone is using this on their MT blog and how you’re finding the results. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.