I use Akismet to filter my spam, and I have to say it does a pretty thorough job. I hardly ever get an offer of free Viagra, Cialis or Phentermine, and almost nobody leaves a comment saying The Regard! The Excellent forum! Thank you fucking dogs!
So all in all I find it good.
But in the last week or so, Akismet has started to treat two of my regular correspondents as spammers, even though they are most certainly not. One is Dan Sullivan, a local political blogger, and the other is a longstanding acquaintance of mine, The Nut.
Now, if I found myself on Akismet’s list of spammers I would like to know three things.
How did I get there?
How can I get myself off the list?
Where can I appeal if Akismet decides not to remove me from the list?
Spam filters such as Akismet are extremely useful tools that save people like me having to wade through hundreds of shit spam comments every day, but they have another side. It seems to me that such filters also have the potential to silence people, to sentence them to exile without the benefit of a trial.
Therefore, it seems to me that legitimate bloggers, like Dan, and like the Nut, can be silenced on a whim, without recourse to any explanation or any appeal. Your jailer is also your judge when you find yourself in cyber-Guantanamo.
Now, perhaps I’m wrong and perhaps there is some independent arbitrator I could appeal to if somebody decided wrongly that I should be on a spam list. I hope so, because otherwise it would be a simple matter for companies like Akismet to silence anyone they didn’t like, and that would be very sinister indeed.
I’m grateful to Primal Sneeze for pointing out that Akismet is not a company but a single person. This information makes me even more uncomfortable.