Banned By Akismet: How To Stay Off Their Blacklist

Sep 18 2011

Banned by Akismet

Recently, I discovered that Akismet banned one of my sites.

I’ve used blog commenting as a means to build back links for years. Through all the updates to Google’s ranking algorithms and quality filters, dropping a URL in a blog comment has always produced great results; it’s the one strategy that I trust and depend on.

And let me be clear — when I comment, I always produce a well-written, on-topic blurb that is often like a mini-article in and of itself. I put in the time and effort to give something of value back to the high quality blogs that I comment on. These are the kinds of blogs that have high PR value and offer do follow links.

Well, blog commenting worked great until Akismet labelled me a comment spammer!

 

My troubles with Akismet began a year ago when I realized that commenting frequently led to a blank screen (the white screen of confusion) after hitting the ‘submit’ button. After some trial and error with the input fields, I realized that only my email address had been banned.

Feeling the indignation, I contacted Akismet and debated my status as a spammer. In their response, they insisted that my commenting behavior was spam-like enough to warrant a ban. Obviously, I was pretty upset, but the workaround was easy; I just used a new email address.

So I went back to my regular blog commenting without much consequence. But some months later, I must of hit their spam filter once more. This time they took the ultimate step to stop me — they banned my site’s domain address!

The reason why they’ve taken action against me, twice now, is likely because I was commenting too frequently.

I had totally forgotten, but Akismet had actually warned me about this when I had contacted them about my banned email address. Somehow, I let this essential piece of knowledge slip from memory.

You see, I like to open a bunch of blog URL’s to comment on at once (I often use Scrapebox to find them in batches). I’ll hand write the comments one after another. Unfortunately, Akismet considers this as spamming, regardless of the quality and relevance of my comments.

I think it can be said that this method of back link building is just not acceptable as far as Akismet is concerned. Even if you post in small numbers and produce high quality comments, you’re still at risk for getting banned, because some blog owners will label any comment with an accompanied link as spam. The more you comment, the more likely you will one day get slammed by the filter.

So does this mean I’m officially done with blog commenting? No way — it works too well. I just need to be more careful, and, well, expect that sometimes the worst will still happen.

Here are my personal guidelines going forward:

Keep your commenting as spaced out as possible:

I don’t know how many comments Akismet will allow you to post per day, or hour, but considering what’s at risk, keep this number very low.

Target high value blog posts:

Make commenting worth its risk. Look for posts with high PR and do follow back links.

Target blogs that already have approved comments with back links:

If the blog you’re visiting doesn’t appear to have any comments with backlinks, it’s possible that they don’t accept such comments. Even worse, they may automatically label comments with backlinks as spam.

Know when to use keywords:

Some blogs will allow you to use keywords in place of your name, others will consider this as spam. Look at existing comments to determine what’s acceptable.

Target blogs with recent commenting activity:

If you’re on a blog with no recent comments, it’s possible that the moderator has given up approving comments, especially if it’s a high value blog that likely attracts tons of spammers. Perhaps the blog owner carelessly clears out their moderation queue by instinctively hitting the ‘spam’ button. Certainly, the vast majority of comments awaiting their approval will be of this variety.

Write your best on blogs that use Keyword Luv and CommentLuv:

Blogs that use these plug-ins are usually strictly moderated, because they inevitably attract hordes of spammers. Use your best writing and hit a higher word count to stand out from lesser efforts.

Build your own your blog list:

Always write down which blogs have approved your comments so that you can use these sources again in the future. As a bonus, you’ll be able to reference your previously approved comment(s) to quickly check what level of writing is needed to ensure an approval.

I use a spreadsheet and note the post URL that I commented on, with details regarding its PR value, do follow status and use of KeywordLuv or CommentLuv plug-ins. Also, if the blog has any quirks — a hard to find submit button or no post confirmation — I make note of these details.

Getting unbanned from Akismet

Most people agree that once you’re banned by Akismet, requesting to get off their blacklist is near-hopeless. But there is a way to get your site unbanned if you can get enough of your future comments approved. This is, of course, quite difficult, as all of your comments will be going straight to a blog’s spam list. What this means is, the moderator will first need to find your comment in their spam list, set it as ‘not spam’ and then approve it from their pending list.

If you own other blogs, or you have friends who run blogs, you’re best commenting on these sites to ensure that your approval numbers go up. With any luck, you might be able to re-train Akismet to not ban your site.

So that’s my rant about Akismet. If you’d like to share any tips about how to stay off their radar, please tell!

21 responses so far

  • Akismet does take a hard line pretty often. I, like you, had an email account banned, but haven’t had a domain banned. I hope to keep it that way!

  • Hey, great post. Unfortunately I’m in the same boat. Our domain has been blacklisted. We’ve barely even started with our blog commenting programme so I think this must be from previous SEO teams overdoing it.

    I’ve contacted them to see what’s going on but I’m not even sure they’ll respond.

    Not good at all.

    Cheers,

    Chris

    • admin says:

      Hi Chris,

      “Overdoing it” would certainly be a problem, but it appears that Akismet’s banhammer is a bit overreaching.
      I’ve since disabled the plugin on my blogs and now I’m using CommentLuv with its built-in spam-filer.
      I hope others will do the same!

  • Ana says:

    I know exactly what you mean, although I don’t have time to comment that frequently on other blogs – too busy with my own. LOL

    When I contacted Akismet 3 times, I never heard back from them once.

    Anyway, came by to let you know I am including your blog on my CommentLuv enabled blog list – as requested.

    • admin says:

      Ana,

      Thanks for adding me to the list.

      I’ve already used your list to drop some comments, and I must say, the success rate and timeliness of my comments getting approved on those blogs have been OUTSTANDING.

      You have obviously built this list with a lot of care. I’ve never come across anything like it.

  • JohnC says:

    Akismet is pretty tough drawing the line. Hard to say nonsense on comment box, so beware of its rule I guess.

  • Julian says:

    Akismet is a pain in the **** I wont even be able to make this post because of it – hope I can get enough reply’s approved to get unbanned – thanks for the info

    • admin says:

      Julian, I have removed Akismet from this blog. And you’re right, it probably would of banned you! Keep working on your un-ban, but also try to target blogs that don’t use Akismet.

      I’ve found that many blogs that use the CommentLuv plugin don’t use Akismet. Many savvy bloggers that are very social know how much that plugin can hurt them and their visitors.

  • Arczi says:

    I think that akismet is the worst anti spam plugin for comments. Banish too many people who are not spammers. Better than akismet is AntiSpam Bee.

    • admin says:

      Akismet can be pretty harmful to bloggers and their honest visitors; I wish more people would realize this and use a different spam filter!

  • Sarah says:

    Ugh. I know that pain all too well. I found this post while searching about Akismet bans, I’m pretty sure I’ve been hit as well. Though, I don’t get that white screen you talk of.

    Normally, before when I posted a comment, my comment would still show but a little message would say “Your comment is awaiting moderation”

    Now I don’t get that at all :\

    I’ve been trying to contact Akismet for God knows how long, still no responses from them..

  • mike says:

    I’ve had a similar issue. I always comment on blogs, because that is what they were designed for. I always do my best to leave quality comments, as i cant stand when commentors leave 1 sentence that say “good job!”
    I tend to mark those as spam, but if someone makes an honest effort to make a real comment, i will approve it.

  • We are in the same boat bro, my site was banned about a year ago and I did not even know. I started to noticed that I was getting the white page after completion of comment. I tested it on one of my other site and there it was, straight to the spam box. I emailed Akismet, but no luck.

  • Joe says:

    I suspect that my domain has been banned by Akismet and CommentLuv as I have been getting that blank page also. I must confess that I hired an SEO company that although they deny it, they must have outsource overseas to have scrapebox blast mass commenting.
    I as previous posters mentioned, do manual blog related comments. I do like that idea you suggest of having other blogs re-train Akismet and KeywordLuv. I’m glad I came acroos your blog. (sorry if that sounds like a spam comment, is not!)

  • It has suddenly occurred to me that Akismet is becoming too powerful. After all, if some algorithm can label you a spammer and effectively remove you from the blogging community, isn’t that a bit much? I’m glad to see that a lot of bloggers are beginning to move to other anti-spam solutions. Personally, I’ve installed the GASP plugin on my blog and found that it prevents far more spam than Akismet ever did.

  • Cindy says:

    I really believe that some bloggers will place your site in the spam box as soon as they look at the url. I have just read another post at a site that tells people how he loves to label comments as spam if he feels that the person is not based in the US and they have a link that he doesn’t like. A link he doesn’t like and it goes into the spam box, banning your domain – its’ crazy.

    • Exactly. I think that a large percentage of blog owners are so completely against approving any comment including a URL that they just mark all comments as spam when the person leaving the comment puts anything at all in the “website” field. If that’s the way you feel, I think that you ought to just remove the field from your website. A small number of bloggers using Akismet can effectively prevent someone from commenting anywhere, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people have used that for black hat tactics.

  • Damon says:

    I think I might have one of my domains flagged in the akismet filter. I found this article looking for some information on the best way to identify and then possibly rectify the issue.

    I am wondering is there some sort of master database somewhere that you can plug in your domain to check and see if it is on any banned or blacklisted databases? It seems that I came across something like this at one time.

    I know you can do it for your email server. Anyone have any thoughts on that and if something like that does exist, where to find it?

    Thanks

  • Steve says:

    To make matters even worse, just imagine if someone hates you and launches a spam attack using your domain name. You wind up blocked and had nothing to do with it.

    Sometimes Akismet goes too far.

  • I’m going through the same thing. URL is blocked. This is the second time they’ve done this. The first time I did manage to contact them and they took me off the blacklist. It sucks because I only comment on subjects I know very well.

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