[wp-edu] Akismet pricing

Pete Davies pete at automattic.com
Mon Nov 28 17:59:24 UTC 2011

Hi all,
I work with the Akismet team at Automattic, and given that the topic
of Akismet pricing came up earlier on a different thread, it reminded
me that it's long overdue that I let you know what we've tried to do
for educational institutions and pricing.
First, a little background: long before spammers started getting as
sophisticated as they are now (and Akismet didn't cost us much to run)
Matt and Toni would offer academic institutions free use of Akismet in
return for a link promoting Akismet in the footer of every page that
it was used on. We did this pretty much on trust, and we had no
resources (or inclination) to enforce it. But it's been clear that the
informality of the arrangement hasn't stood the test of time: API keys
have been lent to non-academic projects, re-designs have abandoned the
footer and perhaps critically (for us) supporting the weight of spam
on .edu sites has become pretty expensive.
As we gave Akismet more resources, we also revisited the signup and
subscription processes. We tried to simplify and make clearer to those
that get real value from Akismet that they should actually pay for the
service. We had an Enterprise plan that was based around the number of
sites, and an API plan that was based around the number of API calls
(basically the number of comments submitted). Allowing users to pick
between the two meant that almost all of our users could find a price
point at which they were able to use Akismet, while contributing to
the costs of running it. With one glaring exception...
Academic WordPress installs do tend to be unique because they spawn
huge numbers of individual sites, many of which are used for specific
projects and are then abandoned (attracting lots of spam). This means
that these installs tend to have (a) a lot of sites and (b) a lot of
API calls.. making Akismet prohibitively expensive. But the
misconception has been that we don't care about this: it's really not
true, we just struggled to figure out a good solution for a while.
In fact, the Enterprise (site-based) pricing didn't seem to work as
well as we'd hoped for some companies too. Thinking about the
edu/multisite problem and also the issues that some companies were
having, we decided to simplify the plan altogether and said that for
the Enterprise plan ($50/month) customers could now use Akismet on as
many sites as they liked, but with a limit of 80,000 comments per
So here's the exception: for .edu domains (only) using Akismet, we're
waiving the comment limit restriction. So you can use one API key for
a many sites as you like on your TLD, for $50/mo or $550/yr. So you
can have as many sites using Akismet as you like, so long as they're
hosted on either a subdomain or directory of [yourdomain].edu. There's
one small caveat: we simply don't have the resources to manage
invoicing, checks and Accounts Payable departments for this kind of
price: so we ask that you/someone pays by credit card or electronic
check. (You could also help my closing comments on unused sites.)
So -- that's the situation as it is now, and hopefully goes some way
to setting the record straight. It saddens me when I hear that Akismet
is unaffordable for academic institutions and they've had to move to
Typekit Antispam (if the age of their homepage and that Arrington
quote is anything to go by, it's not getting a lot of love these days)
or, worse, Captchas. Hopefully $50 a month makes it considerably
easier than it used to be. I know that it won't work for everybody,
but it might at least allow more of you to use the service.
Happy to answer any questions and hear your feedback.
[ Pete Davies | Automattic Inc. | http://about.me/petedavies |
pete at automattic.com | (415) 475-8007 ]

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