Akismet shines above WordPress storm

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It’s been a long, frustrating, infuriating 10 days for WordPress bloggers. The new and improved editor that isn’t, with all its attendant bugs, hiccups, missing features, and malfunctioning has been driving us crazy and nobody is happy.

So in recent days, when some of my faithful readers were trying to post comments, they and I discovered that Akismet was holding some (not all) of their comments for moderation. It seemed like the final insult. I can’t imagine what they must have thought when they’d been actively commenting and then, without warning, they click on “Post Comment,” and their comment just vanishes. I don’t know if they got a message saying the comment was being held for moderation or if they were just left with an empty comment window.

Anyway, obviously it was a problem with Akismet, our trusty spam filter. Normally it works beautiful, sitting quietly in the background, protecting us from endless spam. But it seemed like this was the week for all things WordPress to malfunction. So why not Akismet, too?

In accordance with my settings, your first-ever comment here will be held for moderation. Once it’s approved, all of your future comments should appear immediately (unless they contain some links).

Except they haven’t been. Not always. A few comments from regular readers were unexpectedly held for moderation.

I checked first with WordPress and received the reply I expected: It’s an Akismet problem. Check with them.

So, last night, I sent an email to support @Akismet.com, complete with a screenshot of the posts awaiting moderation.

First thing this morning I received a personal reply from Greg Stewart. More grumpiness from me. I think when I said Akismet had “blocked” some comments and sent them to moderation, he thought I meant they’d been tossed in the spam bin. Poor wording on my part apparently resulted in a misunderstanding, so I replied, probably in an irritated tone, and tried rewording things.

A reply came within the hour. Aha! Greg had ferreted out the problem, which was so obscure I’d have never figured it out, even though I understand the “rules” for searches.

If you’ve dug deeply enough into the bowels of your Dashboard, you know there are settings for Discussions (comments). See Dashboard > Settings > Discussion. There are two sections there labeled Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist where you can list specific things in or about comments to cause them to be held for moderation or completely blacklisted. I’ve listed some specific IPs, URLs, email addresses, and screen names. Here’s where I goofed: I listed one screen name, Eric, to be held for moderation. That meant any appearance of eric either as a name or as part of word, would be flagged. And Akismet, like all computer algorithms, took me very literally and held all comments containing the word America. D’oh!!

Greg found the problem right away. I don’t think I ever would have. Such a simple little thing.

So a tip of the hat to Greg Stewart at Akismet for ending this very frustrating week with a burst of sunshine. Thanks, Greg!

21 thoughts on “Akismet shines above WordPress storm

    1. I’ll take another look at the settings. It looks like this particular comment was posted without a problem. I’m going to delete your email address so spammers can’t pick it up. When you fill in your address on the comment form, I can see it but no one else can. And don’t worry, the very few addresses I’ve blocked are from the distant past, people who thought it easier to vent here than start their own blogs.

        1. I know. It’s so frustrating to compose a brilliant, incisive response to something and watch it disappear when you click “Post.” At least if it goes to moderation, I can recover it for you.

  1. Just goes to prove PT, that while the pen may be mightier than the sword, that little bugger will still squirt ink back into your face on occasion. In your defense however, you were kind of set up for the blindside by recent events. 😉

    1. My, you really are a grumpy old curmudgeon, aren’t you? To me this experience proves yet again that Akismet is one of the best, most responsive parts of WordPress. But I saw what you did there with that word play. Clever.

    1. No, it was my mistake RE incoming comments here and it only affected a couple of people. It was intermittent, though, so I would never have figured out the cause on my own.

    1. Yep, I know. The few IPs I’ve listed (3) are in the “hold for moderation” category so I can review them. Wouldn’t want to actually blacklist a legitimate commenter by accident. Sometimes, though, the IP is the only way to control the situation. Thanks for mentioning it, though. Some of my readers might not be aware of the shortcomings of trying to block people. There are a lot of ways to get it wrong.

  2. Akismet is brilliant, but of course, like any other software, it can also go wrong sometimes.
    I have actually noticed the behaviour you described, of hitting “Post comment”, but then no message back on a couple of blogs I read in the last few days.
    I hope this was fixed and all is well now.

    1. Yes, it was my mistake and quickly fixed. I’ve only had one previous minor problem with Akismet (don’t remember what it was) and then, too, I got a quick personal response and the problem was solved. When commenting elsewhere, I’ve only gotten one of two results. Either the comment posts and appears immediately or I get a message saying it is being held for moderation. I’ve never had one just disappear, although I suppose that might be what happens if your post gets sent to the spam bin. That would probably be because of some setting by that blog’s administrator. I’d contact them and ask them to check on it, look in their spam bin, etc.

... and that's my two cents