Akismet anti-spam software really is free – even for commercial use, once you know how to get that necessary Akismet API key, at no cost. Bloggers are always looking for ways to prevent spam, so most bloggers try to install the Akismet antispam software from the plugin link that comes with all new WordPress installations [I wonder how much Akismet paid for that!].
BUT, when they get to the Akismet ‘Choose Your Plan’ screen, most people think that the only option is to buy a Key. So they give up on Akismet, and use some other anti spam software plugin that really is free. And there are definitely lots of perfectly good free spam prevention plugins available. But….
Never fear, dear readers! I’ve donned my trusty Sherlock Holmes hat yet again, and delved deep into the bowels of all-things-spam, and survived to tell you: Akismet is free! Yes – it really is free, or it can be free, once you know how to can get that API Key to unlock the plugin at no cost.
1. Akismet Welcome Screen
Click on the Install Akismet option at the top of your WordPress Dashboard. It takes you to this screen at Akismet:
Click on the Get an Akismet API Key, and you get this screen:
2. API key signup – It’s easy
Most people look at this, and think they have to choose between the Enterprise Key at $50 per month, the Pro Key at $5 per month, or the Personal Key at $120 per month….hang on…it’s not per month…. it’s per Year! Damn, they fooled me again! [See below.]
And they know the High Volume pay per call option (the small print below these plans) does not apply to them…yet. That’s what I did anyway. So maybe, you then look at the far right hand side of the screen, where it says:
If your site is for a business or if it promotes a product or service, you should pick from one of our paid account options.”
So most people then think: “#$%@ , …it’s not free!” And off they go to get one of the excellent free anti spam software plugins – and there is nothing wrong with that. There are some great free plugins available – see ‘Is it Spam: How to Check’, and ‘What Every Blogger Needs to Know About Spam’.
OK, all you clever clogs…maybe you didn’t fall into the psychological trap that I fell into when faced with that API Sign Up page – but many bloggers do, and you can see people all over the forums asking about how to get a free Akismet API Key, because they fell into that trap as well.
Clever Marketing Psychology!
It’s all about how most people look at a screen, well this is what I did anyway: we are so used to skimming screens and also scanning from left to right. We also tend to expect the cheapest option on the left of screen and the most expensive option on the right of screen. So, for the above screen of API Key Options, the choices go: Enterprise $50….no. Pro $5….no – and then we see Personal at $120, plus the advice that for commercial use you should pay for one of the Paid plans. So we give up…..BUT!
3. Click on the Personal Blog Option Anyway
and you go to this screen:
All you need to do now, to get free access to an API Key is to move that blue slider that is under the text: ‘What is Akismet Worth to You?’ to the left. It goes right down to zero, and the happy smiley face changes to a sad smiley face.
Now you can fill in your details and you get your FREE API Key.
Commercial Use Plans, Fees and Payment.
If you choose to purchase an API Key from Automattic, you may choose from one of four plans:
(a) a plan in which you pay on the basis of the number of API queries made per month (“Access API”); or
(b) a plan in which you or your users may use up to 80,000 API queries per month per key and are charged on a per site basis (“Pro” and “Enterprise”); or
(c) a plan in which you or your users may use up to 300,000 API queries per month per key (“Corporate”).
I’ve read these Terms and Conditions several times, and have found no reference to these ‘four plans’ anywhere.
From their pricing page it looks like there are only 3 plans, and none of the three options are called ‘Access’ or ‘Corporate’ plans. Maybe that ‘High Volume’ option shown on their API Key Sign Up screen, in small print under their main options, is their ‘Corporate’ fourth option, but who knows.
I’ve gone exploring to find out the details of their ‘Access API’ to see how many API queries you are allowed to have at no charge…if any – and found no information about an ‘Access API’ at all.
I asked some blogging experts I know, who use Akismet, what they thought about this, and they have the belief that you can use it free until the income from your blog goes over $500 a month. One said over $5000 a month, but I find that hard to believe. I could see no evidence of any reference to income limits at the Akismet website.
It’s Your Choice: You Decide
It’s up to you to decide if you want to get, and use, the free Akismet API on your blog. I did install the free API Key to see what it would do for me, and whether it was worth having.
On this blog, it has caught a few spammers trying to put advertising Pingbacks in my Comments, but I would have caught these anyway, with the free anti spam plugins I already have installed. See ‘Is it Spam? How to Check’ and ‘What Every Blogger Needs to Know About Spam’
I expected that in a couple of weeks, I would uninstall my Akismet plugin because I thought I didn’t really need it, and I wasn’t really sure about the legality of using the free Personal Use key on a potentially commercial blog.
On the other hand, Akismet does allow us to use that slider, so they must know that people will use it once they find it, so maybe it is ok to use – But decide for yourselves, and if anyone has any insider knowledge about this, please leave a comment so the rest of us can know for sure what the rules are.
Update: these days, I could not manage without Akismet!! It catches bucket-loads of spam Comments and saves me from going CRAZY! Also, I have used it for a couple of years now and Akismet is still performing at no cost… and no complaints from Akismet either.
Using Psychology For Good Marketing Outcomes.
I’m actually very impressed with the way they have used human psychology to get a good marketing outcome for themselves….good marketing outcome??? Yes. If you think about it, they don’t want hundreds of millions of low income and low traffic blogs, using a ‘free’ Key that generates no income for Akismet, because…. that would just clog up and overload their servers (which would cost them extra money and site speed) for no financial benefit to themselves. So they ‘hide’ their free key option in plain site.
If you go back and look closely, the Personal Key does say $0-$120
per month…no, per year – they fooled me again, month..per year, and they run away as fast as they can!
But, on the other hand, Akismet does want the high traffic and high income websites to sign up, because they will happily pay quite a lot of cash for the Akismet anti spam services they provide.
Big time Entrepreneurs will not miss paying out the odd $50 – $120 per month for a paid API Key, and most of the rest of us – newbie cheap-skates (online mega-stars in the making) will fall for the Personal Use blurb.
So we do the ‘right thing’ and don’t bother to click on the Personal Blog only option….so we never even get to find that ‘Get It Free’ Slider. So then we go elsewhere to find a free anti spam plugin, and leave only the Big End of Town entrepreneurs for Akismet – Akismet’s target market.
And those of us who do find it…..well, we are obviously smart enough (ethically challenged enough? :)) to click on the Personal Non-Commercial option anyway, even though we know we are potentially commercial users, and that we shouldn’t really be doing that.
So, it follows that…..because we have a devious and potentially fraudulent mind set, it’s obvious that in the near future, we will also be very successful, marketing super-stars. Then we won’t be bothered about paying out the odd $1000 here and there either, just like the other online entrepreneur Big Cheeses do now…..right? Of course that’s right!