Apr
27
2008

How Akismet And Defensio Create Another Line Of Spam Defense

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All the data validation and CAPTCHA’s in the world sometimes wont save you. If its too much work for you to manage your own filtered IP’s, and emails that have spammed your site in the past, then you might want to seek yet another automated line of protection: Defensio or Akismet. Each have their strong points and quirks.

One thing holds true for both. If you’re developing your own software, its pretty important to have a CAPTCHA form and data validation in place since you want to limit your requests when integrating these into a 3rd party spam application. Why? Because usage of Defensio and Akismet have commercial limits on them. Akismet states two things on their commercial use page:
-”Commercial keys have higher priority over free ones”.
-”Service is faster and more reliable” (for commercial keys).
Defensio also states that you can be a “Developer” for free as long as you only call their API 15,000 times or less a month. With new sites or sites which have additional anti-spam systems implemented BEFORE it sends a call to the anti-spam apps, you’re probably safe without having to pay for a special license.

Akismet is not lying. I’ve done enough development with Akismet on non-blog integrated sites to see the significant slow ups that often result in some funky page renderings on your standard “Thanks for your comment” page. I have not tested Defensio to the extent that I could say one way or another on this. However, Defensio does not appear to discriminate between the priority of the calls to their API. They also don’t mention any difference like this between their Professional, Enterprise, or Developer usage rules. Defensio wins this one for me but this is really dependent on your use (and usage there of).

From personal experience, I have continued to use Akismet for spam protection. Mostly because its quick and easy. Defensio does claim to have a better spam catch rate, however, most of the research I turned up from Google showed that Defensio seems to be “spam flag happy”. Marking several items that are not spam, as spam. This can be corrected via Defensio’s personalized filtering in which you “train” it, telling the system what is and isn’t spam in some cases. Yet that would require more of your own time dedicated to spam.

Defensio also seems to be more widely praised for their UI (user interface) more than Akismet is. When it comes down to it you can build any kind of UI you want if you’re not using it on a WordPress site. (Also note that as of right now you need WordPress 2.0 or higher to use Akismet and WordPress 2.1 or higher to use Defensio).

At the end of the day, you really cant go wrong in implementing either of these systems. Just make sure they’re you’re last line of defense and that you always have a backup place to push data through if a 3rd party script fails (service timed out). You can check for this easily with both scripts just as you can push data to different tables dependent if it is or isn’t spam.

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