Mollom is a new blog spam prevention tool that’s shaping up to be serious competition to Automattic’s Akismet, the current market leader.
Belgium based Mollom was founded earlier this year by Dries Buytaert, the founder and project lead of the Drupal project and Benjamin Schrauwen, a Post-Doc researcher at Ghent University and Machine Learning expert. Mollom automatically blocks comment form spam, contact form spam and fake user accounts using a filtering technique based on the combination of content analysis and CAPTCHA challenges.
When new content is analyzed by Mollom’s intelligent text-analysis filter, and Mollom is unsure whether it is ham or spam, it asks the user to answer a CAPTCHA challenge. This challenge-response procedure doesn’t block human users. If an unwanted message still makes it onto a website, users can help fight back by reporting to Mollom. The service learns from its mistakes.
According to statistics from Mollom (they publish a full scorecard here), the service is 99.94% accurate, making 6 mistakes per 10,000 comments, but one key to the service is its ability to learn as it goes along, so the team is aiming to improve those figures over time.
The business model will be similar to Akismet (they’re currently in beta testing only); the basic Mollom service will be free with commercial/ high-traffic websites paying but getting more advanced features, improved reliability and performance. They also plans to offer dedicated, managed Mollom servers for high-end users. Current Mollom users include Sony BMG, Adobe and FastCompany.
Buytaert told me that although offering the same features as the competition, Mollom’s goal goes further than spam-blocking alone.
We want to increase the overall quality of your site’s content. For example, Mollom’s CAPTCHA service already helps block fake user accounts, and we are experimenting with various automated content-quality assessments, including blocking obscene, violent and profane content.
The service is already getting a lot of positive buzz in the Drupal community and the statistics are impressive. They don’t currently have a WordPress version, but they did ask that I mention they’re looking for a WordPress developer to write one, contact details here if you’re interested.