Akismet vs. reCaptcha: The Definitive Comparison

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Akismet vs. reCaptcha

Every day, you’re finding more and more spam messages that have to be sorted and removed from your website. The amount of time it’s taking is really adding up. We get it. It’s exhausting. But it’s necessary because spam comments are never good for your site. 

Fake signups can damage your deliverability rates and sender reputations. Additionally, spam bots can flood your comment sections with malicious links, skewing your traffic analytics or leading to your site getting blacklisted by Google. Not to mention, your subscribers are exposed to phishing emails and malicious links. We understand the repercussions. Luckily, there are dedicated security plugins for spam removal.

In this article, we’ve pitted popular anti spam plugins Akismet vs reCaptcha to tell you which is better. 

We will cover:  

  • Effectiveness as anti-spam tools
  • How well can they detect spam? 
  • How do the plugins remove the spam? 

We will compare features, usability, prices and more. With this information, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on which solution is best for your website.

Both solutions offer effective protection against spam and can be used together to ensure the highest level of security for your website. Akismet is custom-built for WordPress, so it works well for comment and form submission spam, while reCaptcha can be used in places where Akismet cannot be used. Keep in mind though, spam bots are just one type of bad bot. To keep out the rest of them, you’ll need a good WordPress firewall.

Akismet and reCaptcha are two of the most popular anti-spam solutions on the market. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that Akismet comes installed by default on your WordPress site. You may also have seen reCaptcha’s “I’m not a robot” form on other sites. In this article, we will provide an overview of both solutions, compare their pricing models and customer support options. Read on to find out which solution is right for you.

Summary of Akismet

Akismet is the most popular plugin built by the WordPress team and only cleans up comment and form submission spam. It’s integrated into other popular plugins like Jetpack and Gravity Forms, and provides an effective shield against comment spam. We love that you can install it and forget about it, much like the spam folder on your email inbox. 

Akismet spam protection

It should be noted that there have been concerns about data privacy with Akismet, but these are unfounded. In fact, all security plugins, including MalCare, learn from the sites they are installed on. This helps to provide proactive security without collecting or selling any user data. Akismet is silent and effective, and is a great way to protect your site from comment spam.

Summary of reCaptcha

Like we mentioned earlier, reCaptcha is Google’s anti-spam initiative. It wasn’t built for WordPress specifically, so it needs a plugin for implementation on your site. 

There are several variants of reCaptcha, categorized under 3 main versions, depending on how you want the anti-spam functionality to be implemented on your site. reCaptcha v3, for example, assesses site interaction with a score and enables the site owner to take an action based on that score. Whereas reCaptcha v2 has the more familiar photo identification grids. You can choose which version to use, based on how much you want your visitors to actively engage with the anti-spam shields on your site. 

For more sophisticated anti-spam requirements, there is also an enterprise version of reCaptcha, which requires you to get in touch with the support team to install it. You will also need the enterprise version if your site has more than 1 million monthly site visitors.  

reCaptcha is a reliable and widely-recognized anti-spam solution, and is an excellent choice for protecting your site from spam.

Head-to-head comparison: Akismet vs reCaptcha

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. In this section, we will compare the features, usability, price and more. We will talk about what each plugin has to offer so you know which one is better suited for you. Let’s get started. 

Spam removal: Which plugin is more effective?

reCaptcha is more versatile because it handles more types of spam than Akismet.

Akismet is designed to handle spam from form submissions and comments. First, it can detect spam by analyzing the content and comparing it to a database of known spam. If the content matches the known spam, it will be flagged as spam and discarded. Akismet can also detect spam based on the behavior of the user submitting the content. For example, if a user submits multiple comments in quick succession, Akismet will flag it as potential spam and require moderation before it is posted. 

reCaptcha can detect spam anytime a user submits something online. It works by presenting the user with a challenge, such as a distorted image or a mathematical equation, that must be solved before the submission can be completed. This challenge is designed to be easy for humans to solve but difficult for computers and bots. It can also detect bot-like behavior, in case of scraping, for example. 

Installation and usability: Which is easier to use?

Akismet is easy to install and use as it is built for WordPress. Plus it doesn’t require any site integration. reCaptcha may require some integration, if you aren’t using a plugin that has the setting.

Akismet is easy to install, and is typically preloaded on most WordPress installations by default. You can sign up for the plugin, and enter the API key sent your email into the provided field. That’s the extent of setup needed with Akismet.

Once it is installed, it will silently filter out spam without any fanfare, meaning comments are quickly and easily moved to the spam folder without any action required from the website owner. This makes the process of moderation painless and efficient. 

reCaptcha is integrated with most form plugins, like Fluent Forms, and page builders, such as Elementor. To get it set up and running, you will need to sign up for an API key pair for your site on Google, and fill in the details. 

Next, copy the keys to the right fields on your site. In Fluent Forms, there is a reCaptcha screen in the Global settings that makes the integration painless. 

In terms of usability, there is nothing else you need to do. As soon as it is set up and running, it will silently filter out spam without any additional action required from you. Unlike Akismet, there is nothing to see on wp-admin with reCaptcha. You can view site analytics on the Google dashboard as required, and set up email notifications about your site from there.

Retrospective removal: Which will help remove existing spam comments?

Neither can remove spam that already exists on your WordPress site.

reCaptcha and Akismet are both powerful tools for preventing spam, but neither can do anything about spam already present on a website. This is an important point to keep in mind for websites already overrun with spam comments. In such cases, it is advisable to use a tool like CleanTalk, which can help remove existing spam.

User experience: Which plugin creates a better experience for your site visitors?

reCaptcha challenges your users but Akismet doesn’t require any user interaction. 

Akismet is a spam filter that works silently and without the user ever knowing. It works by not posting spam that has already been posted. 

reCaptcha v2, on the other hand, presents a challenge to the user, such as asking them to prove they are not a robot or recognizing an image. While this is usually not a dealbreaker, some UX designers may not want to add any additional friction to the process. 

v3 works in the background, and evaluates site activity to determine if it is spammy or not. Only then does it present a challenge.

Site performance: Which has a positive impact on your site’s performance?

Neither help improve site performance or page load speed. 

reCaptcha can add bloat and slow down a website. This is because the challenges presented by reCaptcha require extra processing power, which can result in slower loading times for pages with the field. 

It’s also important to note that bots can put a tremendous strain on a website’s server resources, which can lead to the site slowing down. Unfortunately, Akismet does not offer any protection against bots. It can detect potential spam comments and filter them out, but it cannot stop bots from accessing a website or consuming its resources. 

In all honesty, anti-spam plugins aren’t enough to fight bots. You will need a dedicated WordPress firewall for that, and MalCare is your best bet. 

Support: Which has great support?

Akismet has better support overall. 

Akismet is maintained by the WordPress team and regularly receives updates, so it is unlikely to experience any major issues. However, there is not much in terms of support except for what’s on the forum.
Google’s support for reCaptcha is often lacking, so it is best to consider it to have no support. This means that users may find themselves struggling to get the plugin set up and running without any assistance from Google. In such cases, it is advisable to seek help from third-party reCaptcha experts and the WordPress community.

Pricing: Which is more affordable?

Both options are affordable. 

Akismet is free to use for personal websites, while other types of sites can set their own pricing. This makes Akismet an affordable and effective tool for protecting websites from spam and unwanted comments, regardless of the type of website. There are also plans that start at $10 a month. 

reCaptcha is free to use up to 1 million API calls per month. For anything above this limit, ReCaptcha charges $1 per 1000 API calls. To access the enterprise tier of reCaptcha, users must sign up for a paid plan.

What are some other ways to prevent spam on your website?

In addition to using Akismet and reCaptcha to guard against spam, there are other methods that can be employed to protect your website from malicious attacks. Here are the most effective ones: 

  • Install a firewall: A firewall protects your site against bad bots. MalCare has superb bot protection, which not only blocks bad bots but is able to distinguish good bots and let them in. This is an essential component of website security and performance. 
  • Geoblocking: Geoblocking is another way to secure your website from spam attacks from specific countries. This technique involves denying access to certain countries from accessing your website. MalCare offers a powerful geoblocking feature that enables you to configure which countries you want to block from accessing your website. 
  • Double opt-in forms: Double opt-in forms are another great way to reduce spam in your email sign-up process. This method requires users to confirm their registration before being added to your mailing list or subscriber list. This may seem like it adds extra steps to your sign-up process, but it helps to ensure that the users who register genuinely want to become part of your list. Double opt-in forms are a great way to filter out any potential spam registrations, and can help to increase the quality of your list.
  • Honeypot fields: Honeypot fields are not visible to humans, but they are visible to bots. When a bot attempts to fill out a form, it will also fill out the honeypot field. This will alert you to the fact that the submission is from a bot, and it will be blocked. Honeypot fields are a great way to keep spam bots off your website and protect your website from malicious attacks.

Wrapping up

We can all agree that spam is terrible. It is painstaking to remove and can have bad repercussions if left alone. After testing both Akismet and reCaptcha, we can also say that they are both great tools for spam removal. However, we recommend that you use MalCare in addition to these plugins. So, while you’re able to filter out spam, MalCare can help to detect and remove malware, and protect your website from malicious bots. When it comes to security, we will always recommend a more rounded solution for your site. 

FAQs

Is Akismet better than reCAPTCHA?

Both Akismet and reCAPTCHA are effective tools for preventing spam, but they bring different things to the table. Akismet is great for filtering out spam comments, while reCAPTCHA is great for protecting against automated bots. Ultimately, the best solution is to use both tools together, along with a comprehensive security solution like MalCare.

Recommended read: Alternative to Akismet

What is the difference between reCAPTCHA and CAPTCHA?

The difference between reCAPTCHA and CAPTCHA is that reCAPTCHA is a more advanced version of CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA is a security tool that requires users to prove their humanity by solving a puzzle or typing in a code. reCAPTCHA is an updated version of this tool that uses more advanced algorithms and user behavior analysis to identify bots and keep them from accessing a website.

What is the best anti-spam?

CleanTalk is the best anti-spam plugin for WordPress. It is designed to protect your WordPress website from spam comments, contact form submissions, and trackback spam. It uses advanced algorithms to detect and block spam before it even reaches your website, and it also allows you to set up custom rules and whitelists to further customize the protection. CleanTalk is also very user-friendly and provides detailed reports and analytics to help you monitor the effectiveness of the plugin. You may also want to see our guide on Akismet vs Cleantalk

Is Akismet anti-spam safe?

Yes, Akismet is safe. It is a reputable plugin that is used by millions of websites with no reported security issues. It uses an advanced algorithm to detect and block spam, and it does not collect or store any of your personal data.

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