The beauty of WordPress.com is that most of the technical stuff is already done for you. This is an absolute dream, as this means you can set up a blog in next to no time, and have everything working perfectly for you from the beginning without you having to worry about activating anything.
One of the most beneficial things WordPress does for its .com customers is to automatically set up Akismet as standard, without you having to pay for it. It used to be free for all WordPress users, but now WordPress.org blogs need to pay for an Akismet key to activate it. So what is Akismet?
I like to think of Akismet as a spam-eater. The internet is plagued with spam, and many clever people are continuously employed trying to combat it. Spam is almost like an ever-evolving animal, so it is a never-ending battle trying to keep on top of it, and sometimes it can actually take over your blog and your life.
Let me show you part of my Dashboard from this morning:
As this is a WordPress.org blog, I have already activated the Akismet plugin WordPress kindly supplied me when I downloaded it. Here you can see it has ‘eaten’ 159 spam since yesterday, not to mention all the spam I’ve ever received since setting up this blog. Without Akismet this spam would have appeared as comments, and would have clogged up my email inbox as well. Considering that some of this will not be particularly salubrious, I am glad Akismet has done its work.
And of course, it’s easy to get rid of spam, just click on the word ‘spam’ to view the list:
Don’t bother reading them. Akismet will have checked them for relevant content and if any of them are true comments, they would have been placed in the Comments section ready for your approval, and hopefully your reply.
Some spam will appear to be complimentary – this is to get you to approve them. Whenever you do approve a comment, it’s always wise to check the weblink it is associated with to make sure it hasn’t slipped through Akismet’s net, or you will be giving SEO credit to a website you would not like to recommend.
I had a friend who didn’t activate his Akismet on his blog, and started receiving 1,000 comments a day. Of course they were all spam, which he didn’t realise, and he approved the ‘nice’ ones thinking he was collecting a good following. What he was doing was sending a message to these spammers to send him more, which of course he got in spades. After I had shown him what a true comment was like, with the differences to a complimentary spam, he was at first devastated, and then resolute to activate his Akismet as soon as he could.
The image above shows a red ring about the button ‘Empty Spam’, which I suggest you use regularly! Not only will this give a short-lived sense of annihilation, it may trigger a message to spammers that they are not tolerated, and there are devices at hand to destroy them.