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We initially reviewed spam prevention service Mollom back in April and I noted that it gave me back an hour a day because I didn’t need to spend as much time picking out the good comments in the thousands of spams we get a day. I worked with the Mollom team of Dries and Benjamin over the summer to get the plugin working correctly on CN. There were tweaks on both sides that needed to be implemented because of our cloud computing setup.
Since the kinks were resolved, Mollom has worked really well. It seems at this point that only Svetlana has issues posting comments from Russia – no matter what I’ve tried, I can’t get them to come through! Mollom has been working as well on CN with our Drupal setup as Akismet works on our WordPress-based blogs.
Mollom has made three big announcements over the past week: leaving the beta period, hit 10 million blocked spams and their pricing model.
The pricing model is listed on the Mollom site and there are free and paid options. The differences are simple. The free account is limited to 100 blocked spams a day and there’s no uptime guarantee. The paid plan is
$30/month 30 Euros/month and blocks up to 10,000 spams a day and has a more robust environment and support policy.
I don’t see many WordPress users switching from Akismet to Mollom. I do imagine that with the right marketing plan, Mollom could do very well for a variety of CMS and blog platforms that don’t already incorporate a spam protection tool. Once the base is strong, then go after the platforms that have built-in spam protection tools.
We are going to remain on as a tester for Mollom going forward to provide feedback and a testing platform as they improve the service. My hope is that they will create hooks into other Drupal features like trackbacks – I sure would love to turn those back on sometime!
Update: Andrew has a good spam prevention comparison from earlier this year.
Ten days ago we posted a review of the new Mollom spam protection system. What I learned over the next few days is that every comment/tech directory listing that a CN reader attempted to post was hit with a message suggesting that the comments or tech directory listing might be spam.
I posted a message on the Mollom support forum along with the Drupal support forum. Thursday I decided to attempt to email the Mollom founders, explain the situation and tell them that if we can’t get this fixed, I will need to remove Mollom as my readers are mad!
After a brief email exchange with founders Benjamin Schrauwen and Dries Buytaert, they were able to get the problem fixed. Apparently there was a bug that caused some sites (i.e. ours) to force all comments to show as "unsure". The "unsure" flag forces the CAPTCHA validation.
In summary, the issue has been resolved and you should now be able to comment quickly and easily. Big thanks to Dries and Benjamin for immediately resolving the issue and thank you for your patience!
On a related topic, you can now subscribe when you post a comment. Check the subscribe box and you will receive an email when someone replies. It’s a great way to keep the conversation going!
Here on CenterNetworks, we use the Drupal content management system and have tried a variety of spam blocking applications. Earlier this month on HTMLCenter, I explained how I believe spammers are able to attack posts we create within 1 second of posting. I’ve tried the basic spam plugin which was barely effective, Akismet which I believe is the most popular spam protection service and now we are using Mollom.
On our WordPress blogs, Akismet is awesome and blocks nearly all the comment spam that comes in. For some reason with Drupal, it seemed to let through a good bit of spam both in comments and in the Web Directory.
Last weekend I installed the new Mollom spam prevention service. Mollom was founded by Dries Buytaert who also founded the Drupal project. Perhaps that’s why the first Mollom plugin is for Drupal. Installation went very smoothly and I was up and running in minutes. The plugin provides a chart showing the number of spam messages destroyed by Mollom.
Mollom works differently than Akismet and also different than CAPTCHA verification. CAPTCHA verification forces each user to enter a code to let the system know they are human. I found adding this forced verification reduced the number of comments on CN – you want to make it as easy as possible for people to interact.
At a basic level, Akismet looks at each comment, compares it to their list of spam and if it’s deemed to be spam, it goes into a folder which you then have to check (or set to delete). I found that while Akismet caught the majority of the spam, going through the pages of spam looking for the few legitimate comments was taking nearly an hour a day.
Mollom works differently. When you post a comment on CN, Mollom scans the comment and if Mollom thinks it might be spam, it sends you to the CAPTCHA page. So while a few real comments might get sent to the CAPTCHA page, the majority go through without ever knowing Mollom is active. Here’s where Mollom gets bonus points. By sending the potential spams to the CAPTCHA page, I never see them and they aren’t in a spam folder – they just don’t make it. Hello one hour at the gym! So far, one spam comment made it to the live page – but it appears that comment was from a human.
Mollom works on the same pricing model as Akismet – free for most, pay for the largest sites and those that need customizations.
I’d like to see Dries add the ability to customize the message that a reader sees when Mollom thinks the comment might be spam. Right now the message suggests that the message might be spam and frankly if it isn’t sure, just ask the reader to enter the code, no reason is frankly needed. No reason to potentially piss off a reader.
There’s only one part of CenterNetworks that Mollom does not currently protect — trackbacks. If Mollom could remove the 8,000-10,000 trackback spams we get a day, I could easily turn them back on the site. Currently I have to manually look through each batch of 500 at a time to find the one valid one in between the 499 spams. It is just out of control.
Both Akismet and Mollom are some of the best spam protection services out there and while some bash when they miss, just think about if they weren’t around. I will report back after a longer period of time with more stats.