For years, the vast majority of Akismet releases have been centered around bug fixes and improving compatibility with various plugins. Version 5.0 was released today, following 4.2.5 earlier this month, with a new feature that should improve Askismet’s ability to detect spam comments.
Akismet engineer Christopher Finke explained how the plugin will now analyze how a comment is posted, in addition to analyzing what is posted:
A typical human commenter on the Web takes about 40 seconds to read a blog post and another 40 seconds to write and submit a comment. Their typing speed varies significantly throughout the creation of their comment, and they regularly use their mouse to click around the page. An automated spambot (even one programmed to act like a person) doesn’t act so human-like: its typing speed and mouseclick speed are superhumanly consistent. It doesn’t spend time “reading” blog posts. Its mouse usage is sparse.
This new feature can detect spam that is posted in a machine-like fashion, even if the spambot is attempting to post a comment with content identical to one that has already been approved.
“The Akismet plugin will begin observing these behaviors so that they can be used as part of the spam-checking process,” Finke said. “None of this data is personally identifiable, and it won’t be used for any purpose other than identifying spam.”
Akismet is bundled with WordPress and is active on more than 5 million sites. More than 62% of users are running on 4.2.x and ~38% are on version 4.1 or older. WordPress users who are having a lot of spam breaking through Akismet’s protection will want to upgrade to take advantage of the new spambot detection features in version 5.0.