The worst enemy of popular forums
The most frustrating problem that plagues many forums today is Web Spam - unsolicited ads (often with links to spam sites with malicious intent) pretend to be genuine forum posts, preying on your members.
And these Web Spammers are difficult to deal with. Sometimes spam posts are created by spam bots (computer program), which can be more easily defeated using things like Captcha. In this case spam posts will be rejected before they land on your forum.
Other times spammers hire people to register multiple forum accounts and post ads on their behalf
. In this case Spam can be very hard to prevent as there are no reliable ways to differentiate human spammers from regular members, until they post something on your forum.
In the past, forum owners rely on 2 basic methods to try dealing with these spammers:
- Asking members to report or flag spam posts - hoping the community members will self-regulate by identifying and removing spam themselves. Software like APG vNext has the ability to automatically remove posts that are flagged as spam by forum members.
- Screening every new post and approve each manually - employing trusted members as moderators to read and approve posts before they show up on the system.
The problems with the above methods are they only work short-term, or they don't work at all. Many people won't even bother reporting / flagging posts and would just leave feeling frustrated seeing spam posts everywhere.
And moderators aren't as reliable either - people could get busy or simply become lazy and reluctant because the work (filtering spam) feel like chores and unrewarding.
So here comes the solution for these issues:
Entering Akismet Integration - the automated spam fighter
Scenarios like above are where automated spam filtering shines compared to methods that involve a lot of manual intervention, like the ones I showed above.
Akismet has been on the market for a long time
, primarily designed to filter comment spam on the Wordpress platform. It works by comparing forum posts or blog comments with it's massive spam database to see if they match any spam characteristics. It then either flag the posts as spam or non-spam.
And software that has the ability to work with Akismet can then delete or hide the posts that are flagged as Spam without involving any action from it's users.
Due to the popularity of Wordpress, to date Akismet has filtered more than 141 billion
spam comments. And for sure it's learned a lot about spam. In other words, it's perhaps the most intelligent automated web spam filtering solution on the market today.
And it gets better the more you use it. Akismet allows you (the forum owner) to report false positives (non-spam flagged as spam) and false negatives (Spam that slipped through the filter) to Akismet so you can train the filtering system
to recognize spam better for your particular case.
APG vNext 5.1 comes equipped with Akismet filtering
In the upcoming release, you'll find a section in the Admincp for Akismet integration. And it means you'll be able to use Akismet to filter every single post that got sent to your forum, removing all possible Web Spam without any manual intervention from you or your staff.
And this integration is completely customizable, too. You can decide...
- whether to filter all new posts or only posts marked as approval required by the forum
- whether to notify moderators or simply delete the post when Akismet returns the Spam flag
- whether to notify moderators or simply approve and send out new post notifications when Akismet returns the Non-spam flag
- each setting can be configured on a per-forum basis
- the software logs all posts sent to Akismet for filtering. You'll be able to report false positives or negatives to train Akismet with the click of a button, if necessary
What to do now before version 5.1 is released
For any APG vNext users, while you wait for version 5.1 to be released, you can sign up to get your own Akismet API key now
. You'll need this key to enable Akismet integration (you'll enter this key in the forum's AdminCP). Akismet API key is free for personal sites
. For commercial sites, for as little as $5 per month
, you can submit up to 80,000 checks (i.e. 80,000 new posts, which is A LOT). It's the most economical way to give yourself and members a peace of mind, knowing that you're using the best possible automated solution to protect your community.
What else will be available in 5.1?
There are a bunch of improvements that will be available in 5.1, especially the Page Creation
and 3rd party API integration
features of the software. You'll be able to control Avatar upload permission better with Group based settings.
I'll make another post for these features when 5.1 is released. Stay tuned!
vNext: Online Demo
| Latest version: 5.5 Consultation / Custom Programming