I’d been getting spam lately on my blogs, so I decided to give Akismet, the built-in WordPress anti-spam plugin, a try (usually i use the excellent Bot-check, a 100% effective solution for this blog, but I wanted to try something new).
Akismet activation however will be confusing for non-wordpress.com users (read: people who run wordpress by themselves, like myself and others who have their own domain). When a non-wordpress.com user activates it on his plugin area, it’ll say “Akismet is not active. You must enter your WordPress.com API key for it to work.”, after which it’ll give you instructions to look for it on your WordPress Dashboard, either on the Dashboard itself or when you click “My Account” (Users > Your Profile).
However if you’re not a wordpress.com user, there will be no API key. Which would normally be elementary information, if it were not for the fact that this is not explained either on the WordPress.com/api/keys page or on the WordPress.com FAQ page.
The way to get around it is to understand that Akismet is a wholly independent service from WordPress (the blog application and the free blog hosting service), and doesn’t really care if you’re hosting on WordPress.com or independently. Ergo, you should go ahead and sign up for Akismet just so you can get that key, and the only way to do so is by signing up at wordpress.com.
Fortunately, you can actually sign up without getting a wordpress.com blog, which is important since the only reason you’re signing up is to get that Akismet key and not to get another blog. (That’s not a very elegant solution btw, but I’m not gonna get into that right now.)
It will ask for your email address when you do, where it will finally send you your precious API key. You can then enter it onto your blog via Plugins > Akismet Configuration > WordPress.com API Key (even if, like I said, it’s not a wordpress.com hosted blog).
Confusing? Absolutely. These are one of those times when I managed to get around a problem because I knew what I was doing and I have had some background doing it (as opposed to the default, which is to rely on how-tos, readmes or FAQs). If I didn’t, I’d have given up and gone back to Bot-Check, or I’d be in the forums right now asking for advice.
Their FAQs need a rewrite. Akismet has a good thing going, and if it works I’ll find a way to work it into other php-based apps that have comment signups, like phpbb, vbulletin, coppermine, etc.
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