Star Trek Spam Control = Akismet + Defensio???

Recently I initiated CloudFlare  (CloudFlare) on a client website. The success is overwhelming in stopping bad bods (robots) and other malicious entities.

We also have the plug-in AntiSpam Bee installed, if a bod should evade CloudFlare’s defenses. This plug-in tricks the bod into using a non-existent comment field, as well as doing some other checks.

Image representing Defensio as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

What it doesn’t protect against is human spammers. For this, we have used WordPress Akismet with great success. However, there are concerns expressed by some bloggers, about Akismet engaging in a pricing model.

As an alternative, I’m recently added Defensio. Defensio is free for small businesses. It also is owned and operated by Websense, an international company. They also have the 2.0 version available and a usable WordPress plug-in.

I’ve started used Defensio on my FaceBook account and it has impressed me. Now there are two different views of using Defensio with other Spam plug-ins.

  • Defensio says, “Deactivate Akismet and/or any other anti-spam plugin…”
  • Akismet in there FAQ says, “But if you are investigating alternatives, we recommend checking out Mollom and Defensio, both which integrate with Akismet nicely.”

Well, this is interesting. Unless we look at things like Akismet mentioning it classifies 90% of SPAM comments successfully – which translates as 10% false positives.

Computers at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base are...
Image via Wikipedia So let's add Defensio to Akismet and run some tests.
  • First I hide behind different proxy servers, so neither server bans me via IP address for testing.
  • I set all comments to have an approval process.
  • It’s time to try a good comment. It takes about 3 – 4 minutes to process through the Akismet and Defensio servers. But the comment gets on the pending approval queue.
  • Next I set a spam comment with name viagra-test-123. It first goes through Akismet and gets flagged as SPAM. Then it goes through Defensio and ends up in their SPAM queue.
  • When I went to the comment in the Defensio Spam queue and clicked the history tab, it say: “Akismet caught this comment as spam.”   If I click the details tab, it says “Spaminess: 99%”.  Defensio rated it at 99% for Spaminess.

What about false positives? Now think of the movie critics analogy. If two critics think a movie is bad – guess what – it probably is. Similar logic occurs if they both think a movie is good. When they have a divided opinion, it’s up to a movie goer to make a judgment call.

But a strange thing happened:

I decided to add an entry with swear words.  Akismet approved the comment and Defensio accepted its recommendation.  What?  Defensio has a profanity filter and Akismet should know better.

Next I decided to test each service separately, using the same swear word entries.

  • Akismet classified the comment as SPAM
  • Defensio did the same thing and gave a SPAM rating of 100%

So let’s go back to what both Akismet and Defensio say about working together:

  • Defensio says, “Deactivate Akismet and/or any other anti-spam plugin…”
  • Akismet in there FAQ says, “But if you are investigating alternatives, we recommend checking out Mollom and Defensio, both which integrate with Akismet nicely.”

CloudFlare, Bad Behavior and AntiSpam Bee focus on the automated invaders. Defensio and Akismet can deal with the human element – but not together.  I have to trust Defensio’s judgment on using both your systems. My testing so far has defended this assumption.

The Anti-Spam Barnstar is awarded to users who...
Image via Wikipedia

There’s an interesting article at Fighting comment spam in Rails with Akismet and Defensio. It says:

“In order to test the two services head to head, I’ve put Akismet on the Plexus site and Defensio on another new site we recently rolled out. I’m going to compare the amount of spam each site receives through its comments and see which does a better job of recognizing spam. So far in my tests I have found both to be quite correct.”

Now let’s look at his testing updates:

“UPDATE (5/25/2010):In the month or so since I installed Akismet on this site, I found it had about a 95% success rate. Not bad, but not perfect. Some spam did still slip though. Today I switched to Defensio, and I will report back how that turns out.”

“UPDATE (8/13/2010):I had high hopes for Defensio, but it ended up letting a bit of spam through. I was pretty disappointed at its success rate in the end. Having used both for a while, I would say that Akismet is the more consistently effective solution, although as I noted above it is not perfect. Some spam is still going to get through, but Akismet seems to catch a lot more of it than Defensio.”

There’s also an interesting article weighing the pros and cons of Akismet, Defensio, Bad Behavior and captchas at Captchas, Anti-spam services, and Bad Behavior. The author gets great success using both Bad Behavior and Defensio.

  • I highly endorse reading the article and seeing the author’s pros and cons for Akismet, Defensio, Bad Behavior, Mollom and recaptcha. 

I like to see how the new 2.1.x version of Bad Behavior looks, when it goes live. It will be mostly object orientated code.

Am I the only one testing both these services (i.e. Akismet and Defensio) together?



4 thoughts on “Star Trek Spam Control = Akismet + Defensio???

  1. Hi, although I am not a WordPress user, my cousin has a WP blog and her favorite spam fighting plugin is GASP.

    I hate spam and I can’t believe that even though I just started my site, spammers already found me.

    1. There’s a recent blog post covering GASP at

  2. It’s a pretty informative post.It’s my first visit.I like very much your way of presentation.Some great information to be absorbed in this post.Thanks a lot for sharing.I have bookmarked this for my friends. Keep blogging.

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