There has been a repeated question over the last few days coming up in comments about auto-moderation. For instance prism asks
Some were wondering what initiates moderation. I have just used Latin quotation – quid pro quo and the system may not know that one. ‘Lickspiitle’ politicians might be new. Mentioning Matthew Hooton? (Okayed in a few minutes.)
Right now the most common reason for auto-moderation is coming from akismet‘s servers are getting hammered in the battle against spam. It is affecting the rate at which comments are getting automatically moderated on this site.
Normally we’d get akismet to check 300-600 comments in a day for spamness. This includes both the actual user comments and the bot comments. But if you look at the graph above, it shows the numbers of spam comments that akismet has processed from this site over the past 60 days. You’ll notice that just under a week ago we went from having less than 50 spam per day to having more 600-900. With the legitimate comments on top, it means that we have massively increased the number of spam being passed to be checked. Part of this appears to be because it counts resubmitted comments (more on that shortly), but the base load of comments arriving appears to have increased markedly.
I’m seeing the same pattern in several other sites that I have admin access to. I suspect that over the last 7 days the number of comments being processed at akismet’s server has gone up about 10 fold or more. Most sites get the same amount of spam comments, but will only have a fraction of our daily comments. Their server system is struggling under the load.
How does all this relate to auto-moderation? Well, when our akismet plugin is unable to get a timely answer from the akismet servers, it will pop the comment into auto-moderation. You’ll see this showing as it being moderated. The akismet plugin will automatically resubmit the comments shortly after and will keep doing so until it gets an answer (also increasing the load on their servers). Most comments are clearing within a couple of minutes automatically.
So for the moment, you’ll have to just put up with it. If it persists past this week, then I’ll start manually tagging IP ranges in .htaccess to not accept comments from (as I have already done for trackbacks and pings).