I still have a general distrust of automated spam filtering tools, like Akismet for WordPress. The reason for this is, simply, that I worry about false positives. It’s simply too easy still for an automated filter to filter out something that isn’t actually spam. What I’ve been using instead of Akismet, or any similar automated filters, is a two-tiered approach.
The first is a requirement to preview your post before submitting it, which is also useful in helping induce people to edit their own words before posting since editing a post once it’s posted is something only I can do here. This serves a secondary purpose in that it allows for an opportunity to make sure silly typos don’t get posted in your name while still preventing people from coming along later to change what they’ve posted after others have read and responded to it, at least without contacting me to let me know the very good reason you might want something edited.
The second is moderation. Once someone has signed in, posted with that user account, and had that post approved by me, future posts do not go into moderation. This means that anonymous posts always go into moderation but, even after I started allowing anonymous comments, most comments were made with a user account. My desire to avoid false positives on spam filtering in any way keeps me from going back to a policy of only allowing registered users to comment, regardless.
I’ve tried out Akismet for a while. I just turned it off today, because it wasn’t actually doing anything useful for me. I found that Akismet dumps everything into what is effectively a moderation queue, with a few changes from the standard moderation queue. First, it deletes everything that’s fifteen days old, which is great for laziness but not so great for eyeballing the list for false positives (and I did find a false positive today). Second, it seems to be incapable of letting me see more than the first 150 items in the list, so if I let it go for too long without checking there may be some false positives that I will never catch. Third, it doesn’t provide me with any email notifications to remind me to check for false positives. Fourth, it has a spiffy marketing name, Akismet.
Aside from those four differences, it does nothing for me that moderation does not. In fact, there are things the WordPress built-in moderation queue does that the Akismet plugin doesn’t, like providing more categories to which I can assign something than “not spam” and “delete”. The interface for the moderation queue is just generally preferable, for me at least — and if I decide I don’t want email notification, I can just turn it off.
Since, after all that, I’ve come to the conclusion Akismet does nothing for me, I’m back to using the standard moderation queue as of today. Hopefully no incoming legitimate comments got thrown out with the bathwater.