Instead of analyzing the content of each comment as well as having a giant database with information about which URL’s, IP’s etc. to mark as spam, G.A.S.P. does something far more simple:
- Adds a checkbox below the comment field, which must be checked, before submitting the comment (to confirm the commenter is not a spammer)
- Adds an extra field “behind the scenes”, which users do not see, but spambots will usually insert text into.
Also, the extra field added behind the scenes (invisible to real users), is a trap for the spambots. Spambots will usually enter text into all the form fields before submitting the form, and if G.A.S.P. detects text in the hidden field, it will throw a warning and prevent the comment from being submitted, as it’s most likely spam.
As you can see, it’s quite simple – and it’s a very good idea. Unfortunately, I knew the second I read how it worked, that it wouldn’t work 100% and it’s just a matter of time before more spambots will figure it out.
The thing is, the spammers are most likely aware that WordPress is a widely used blogging platform, so they can set up their spambots to only fill out the required field and steer clear of the hidden fields that might be traps, like with the G.A.S.P. plugin. I’m guessing most spambots are not that clever, which is why G.A.S.P. does indeed prevent a lot of spam.
As for the checkbox that must be checked, well, apparently the spambots found a way through that one as well. After I’ve been running G.A.S.P. for about two weeks, with Akismet disabled, I’m getting some 20 e-mails a day with spam comments held for moderation, such as the examples below:
The two first looks like automated spam, that Akismet puts directly into the spam folder so you never get to deal with them – unless you look in your spam folder from time to time, of course. How they made it through G.A.S.P., I don’t know, but I’m getting around 20 of those a day. Before, I was getting maybe 100-200, so G.A.S.P. surely stops most of it – but not all.
The last one is clearly some guy being clever and abusing the fact that TechPatio is a do-follow blog. That “testking 650-393” link has nothing to do with his comment and is something about a Cisco exam – why did he link to that in a comment about Google and Chinese government? Do-follow abuse, that’s why! Some of you might be fine with comments like that, but not on this blog 🙂
So, what’s the G.A.S.P. conclusion?
On the plus side:
- You definitely get less spam into your comments database. Mine went from 100-200 daily to around 20. Some bloggers even report zero spam comments are making it through, so your mileage may vary.
- Real human comments will never go into the spam folder by accident because of whatever reason Akismet might think it’s spam (the main reason why G.A.S.P. was developed in the first place, I believe).
- It’s a free plugin, developed by Gail from GrowMap and also Andy Bailey who’s the genius mastermind behind CommentLuv. (read more posts about CommentLuv)
On the downside:
- You’ll see all the comments that makes it through G.A.S.P. – including the spam comments such as the ones listed above. If you have e-mail notifications enabled, you’ll also see them in your e-mail inbox. You’ll also have to manually trash/spam them from WordPress dashboard.
- Real human commenters taking advantage of do-follow blogs only to spam their product/website will also make it through G.A.S.P. – and you are likely to approve it, since you have no way of knowing if he’s only trying to take advantage of your do-follow blog or not. Akismet might have caught him as a spammer, because other bloggers marked the comments as spam.
For some of you, I think G.A.S.P. will prove a better solution than Akismet.
For me, however, I’ve disabled G.A.S.P. and went back to Akismet. I’d rather see a few questionable real-human comments go into spam per month, than having to see real automated spam comments appear in my e-mail inbox 20 times a day and having to mark them as spam in WordPress afterwards. Maybe it’s possible to run both G.A.S.P. and Akismet at the same time, I’ll have to consider that…
But that’s just my priority 🙂