Get Akismet Anti Spam Filter For Free – Yes Free!

female sherlock cartoonAkismet 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.

Here’s how:….     

   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:

Get an Akismet API Free

Click on the Get an Akismet API Key, and you get this screen:

2. API key signup – It’s easy

Akismet API Key Options

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:

“Personal accounts

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:

Akismet Personal Blog AccountsAll 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.

Akismet Terms of Use

If you are anything like me you will be heading off to check their Terms of Use to see is if this is legal or not.  Here is the relevant part:

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, but many people don’t ‘see’ the $0 – their eye catches the $120 per 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!

……..Cue Motto!

Plan Well Start Small Think BIG!

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Get Akismet Anti Spam Filter For Free – Yes Free! — 21 Comments

  1. Hello There,
    I’m happy to read your tips here.
    You said to get a free account
    Just hv to move the word
    “what is askimet worth for you”
    how to do that? I can’t seem to move it to left?
    I hope ur not kidding thou.
    Can u help me pls?

    • Hi Jkie, no I’m certainly not kidding you.

      I’m not sure why you are having trouble, but maybe check you are not doing this:

      You have to go to the Akismet website itself, go through the steps that I outline above, and when you get to that page with the slider, move the Slider to the left, not ‘What is Akismet worth to you?’

      I’ve now edited the article to make the instructions for that step clearer, so thanks for alerting me to that – it could have been confusing.

      Also, you cannot move the slider on the screenshot I have included in the article above. That is just an image I uploaded here to show readers what they will see at the Akismet website during the signup process – in case that is what you were doing.

      Hope that helps.


  2. Our company has been using WordPress websites for over 4 years now. I hate to admit it, but I was one of those that was completely duped by this marketing ploy. I stand in awe of the person responsible for setting this up. Very clever.

    We would like to thank you for helping us find this information even if it took me 4 years to get here. I’m setting up Akismet now, and I’m hoping this will solve most of our comment spam problems.

    • Hi Michael, it is very clever, isn’t it!

      And it’s amazing how well it works in fooling people in a completely open and honest (but devious) way. I spent months dismissing Akismet as ‘not an option’ because I thought it was expensive. Well at least that it wasn’t free – and I needed everything to be free at the beginning with no money coming in.

      I can imagine some guy over in Akismet head-quarters chuckling to himself at how successful this clever marketing strategy is. You almost feel like paying them for their Psychology skills. Almost, but not quite…not yet, anyway. 🙂

      I should add, Michael, that Akismet puts everything it thinks is Spam into your Spam Folder. It took me a while to work that out!

      So you have to check on your Spam folder every few days to make sure that Akismet has not classified genuine comments as Spam. Its good, but it’s not perfect.

      In fact, that is where I found your Comment – in my Spam folder.

      And now…. on re-reading this post for the zillionth time, I see that they fooled me again! I had read the Personal Use price as ‘per month’ dozens of times, and ‘saw’ it just like the other 2 Pricing options – per month. But no. Today I see for the first time that it’s 0-$120 per year!

      Hats off to you, guys and gals at Akismet! Clever clogs that they are!

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  4. Thank you sooooo much for this information. I never knew this! I just would go into my wordpress blog and methodically delete all the spam. I knew that Askimet bugged me all the time about, you need to enable Akimet…get your key.

    I’m so glad I found your info! Boy you are a lifesaver…


    • Well done Leah, yes, I used to do exaclty the same thing, believing that Akismet cost too much for start-up blogs. Have you paired it up with a anti-spambot plugin? I use Spam Free WordPress and the two together seems to work well. There are also Captcha style plugins. I’ve weitten a few articles about how to combat spam. The Category where you can find them is Spam & Anti Spam: Reviews.

  5. Thank you SO MUCH for this info! I’m just like you.. I’ve avoided Akismet ever since my switch to WordPress. Given that I barely make anything yet, I also need free (for now). Maybe one day that won’t be true, and when it is no longer true, I’ll be glad to support a great tool by contributing to their coffer. For now though, I’m hoping to FINALLY be rid of the annoying, stupid spam comments. It’s still beyond me what the “fun” is for the spammer in sending the comments?? Thanks again! Just found your blog tonight and I think I’ll be visiting you again. 😉

    • Hi Sandy, it’s a great Aha! moment isn’t it? And I agree, why does anyone waste their life posting stupid and meaningless spam comments which only get deleted by the blog owner anyway – it’s a mystery to me.

  6. Hello Carol,
    Thank you so very much for the priceless information. I am now the proud owner of
    a free akismet -antispam- filter 🙂
    Regards and all the best with your site!
    Josee Marie

  7. Great Article, it was much needed, Thank you!

    I just really want to know what crime I may be committing by having Akismet active on my site for a period of time? These waters are soooo murky!

    I will use it and just say that they provide this option ergo I haven’t willingly comitted a crime. Thanks again for the article and have you made your second million yet? 🙂

    PS. I am new to this site and love the look and feel of it. I will register later.

    • Hi Dan, my conscience is clear and I don’t think I’ve committed any crimes, and…um…I’m still working on my second million: Plan Well, Start Small….Think BIG!

  8. Wow! what a good trick, initially I thought it is paid and left the site and was searching for other solutions, but found your this page and did the same trick and I successfully got my API Key, thanks a lot for this :).

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