Managing comments on multiple WordPress sites

There is a pursuit we all share; not having to deal with spammers. The promise of a clean spam-free web.

With that in mind, I'm pleased to announce that we released a new version of the Mollom plugin for WordPress. Mollom is an anti-spam solution for websites that offers some unique features not available in other solutions like Akismet. For example, the new Mollom plugin for WordPress ships with complete support for the Mollom Content Moderation Platform — enabling you to moderate all of your WordPress sites from a single unified interface.

This is a great feature for organizations that have many sites. If you have 20 WordPress sites and 10 Drupal sites, you can now moderate these sites from a single user interface that offers powerful moderation workflows.

The new WordPress plugin leverages Mollom's PHP library that implements Mollom REST API. The library is the basis for the Mollom module for Drupal but was designed to be reused by other systems. If you have a content management system other than Drupal or WordPress, you can also connect it with the Mollom Content Moderation Platform.

Give it a try! You may like it.

New Mollom content moderation platform launched

Today I'm excited to announce that we've released the next generation of Mollom - our Content Moderation Platform. For the past five years, we have worked hard to help companies stay ahead of the curve when it comes to content moderation. With today's release, I feel like we've secured our place as the leading enterprise-ready content moderation system.

With over 2 years in development, and 600 beta users, the new content moderation platform is built to help companies handle extensive amounts of user generated content with ease. The main features of the Content Moderation platform are:

  • Easy team management. Site admins can add moderators, assign privileges, and monitor how moderators are performing - keeping an eye on productivity while trusting that no malicious content is making it to their site.
  • Fast moderation. If we know it's spam, your team never sees it. If we're sure it's good content - we'll publish it to your site. For the content we're unsure about - moderators now have a very easy user interface where they can view the contributor, their comment, and their reputation, spam, and profanity score all within seconds. They can approve or decline, and even take bulk actions to speed things up.
  • Custom filters. The system allows each user to create custom filters so they can focus on a specific subset of commenters. If they only want to see users with low spam and profanity scores - creating a filter takes just a couple seconds and they now have a customized view.
  • Multi-site management. All customers can have from one to hundreds of sites in their system - which makes moderation for big brands with multiple site properties very easy. Adding a site takes just a couple minutes, and customers can view analytics separately across all site properties.

You can learn more on the Mollom site, the video below, or in the press release we issued this morning.

I'm really excited to finally show this off to the world, and continue to help more companies embrace social without fear!

How does it feel to sell your company?

I've acquired other companies, but the sale of Mollom to Acquia, was the first time I sold a company of my own. Being the seller felt quite different. It's a interesting mixture of satisfaction tinged with loss. During the negotiation phase you feel joy and excitement. Then you feel frustration as you go through the due diligence process. It's a lot of work. Eventually, the day you hand over the keys you feel like you sold your baby. At the same time, you feel a sense of achievement.

Selling Mollom was a life-changing moment. Not because it was a big financial transaction (it wasn't), but because it proves that I was able to bootstrap and grow a company, steer it to profitability, and successfully exit. It was a great experience, because I know that at some point, I'll have the desire to do that again.

Mollom acquired by Acquia

We're excited to announce that Mollom has been acquired by Acquia.

For the foreseeable future, Mollom will continue to be offered as it is today. I will continue my role as general manager of Mollom, Ben will continue to lead the development of our products and the Mollom team will remain unchanged. If you are a user or customer of either Mollom or Acquia, everything will remain exactly the same.

When Ben and I started Mollom almost 5 years ago, we wanted to do something important. While most people were trying to figure out the social web, we were paddling out ahead of the wave, knowing that many websites would soon have to deal with increasing amounts of spam and content moderation. In the past five years, we have helped tens of thousands of people fight spammers on their websites, including some of the world's leading organizations.

We have blocked almost a billion spam messages since we started. It has been very rewarding for us to see that we have helped make the web a slightly better place. At the same time, we also built a healthy business. We successfully bootstrapped Mollom, and organically grew a team of 6 people.

The social wave keeps on growing; we're helping more and more people and organizations every day. But now that social wave has grown so big, we can't rest on our laurels. There are more business opportunities to explore, some of which we have been working on for a while.

At the business level, it made a lot of sense to merge Mollom into Acquia. Ben and I were looking to raise capital for Mollom to help fund future product development and expand our operations. It was clear that it would require a long-term commitment of my time – just at the point when I wanted to focus more on promoting Drupal globally and driving Acquia's growth and expansion. By having Acquia acquire Mollom, I can still be a part of Mollom, and Mollom could receive the resources to accelerate our efforts and create an even more exciting future for Mollom. It also allows me to double down on Drupal and Acquia. In short, I'm really excited to have Mollom as part of the Acquia family.

Keep an eye on us!

Mollom.com website redesign (Woot!)

We're proud to present a new design for the Mollom.com website.

We first launched the Mollom.com site in 2007. For more than four years, Mollom.com was using the same design. As we grew Mollom, we wanted to address some of the issues that we've been stewing over since our original design. We have been planning to redesign the site for over a year now but work on the Mollom web service and developing new Mollom products have always had a higher priority so we haven't found the time to complete the new design until now.

Mollom.com January 2012
The old Mollom.com design that we used from 2007 to early 2012.

The new design is the first step in our plans to reorganize the website. We still have updates to make to the content of some pages, for example. Already, we think the new design is a fresh new change that improves usability.

Take a look at the new mollom.com, we hope you like it!

Mollom.com February 2012
The new Mollom.com website design.

Mollom 2011 retrospective

2011 was another excellent year for Mollom. We ended the year having blocked 630 million spam messages, up from 352 million spam messages blocked in 2010 -- and that doesn't even count some of our largest customers like Netlog and other large social networks. And, as in 2010, we ended 2011 with a spam classification efficiency of 99.95%, meaning that only 5 in 10,000 spam messages were not caught by Mollom.

The number of active sites protected by Mollom grew from 28,000 at the end of 2010 to almost 45,000 at the end of 2011. Revenues grew by more than 50% with virtually no sales or marketing efforts.

Team december
Almost the entire Mollom team in the Mollom office in Ghent: sun, Ben, Cedric, Thomas, Johan and Vicky. Missing in the picture are Keith and Dries.

All our revenue is invested back into the company. In 2011, we used those funds to grow our team and to fund development on an entirely new product, which may end up rebooting or repositioning Mollom altogether.

Specifically, we have been worked hard on what will be a "hosted comment moderation interface". That interface will provide an optimized moderation environment that will make it easier to moderate multiple websites, either as an individual or as part of a team of moderators. To do so we introduced a new backend with a REST-based API to replace our original XML-RPC API, we rewrote the Mollom module for Drupal, and started to change our website.

Moderation ui december

We also faced some new challenges in 2011 -- our support requests increased substantially, mostly due to the variety of sites that are now using Mollom. Based on many of these user requests, we tweaked our classifier performance, which resulted in a dramatic decrease in how often Mollom presents a CAPTCHA challenge, and in doing so, solved a number of real-world issues our clients were having with Mollom performance. Rolling out changes without impacting our up-time statistics was no small challenge -- every change we made on the backend has to be weighed against the impact it has on the effectiveness and responsiveness of Mollom on the client side.

2012 may also bring us some additional competition -- some of the world's best venture capitalists invested $8 million in a company called Impermium. Investments like this validate our belief that the social web needs good anti-spam filtering solutions. Impermium is still building its first product but will definitely be a company to watch.

Regardless of what happens in the social web spam market, we'll be busy in 2012. The first half of 2012, you'll notice some new things popping up on Mollom. Our primary goal for 2012 will be to make the "hosted comment moderation interface" available commercially and to refresh our website. Along with launching a new product, we plan to ramp up our sales and marketing efforts. It is time to do so now the Mollom technology has matured after years of intensive investment. We've also got additional work to do to continue to improve accuracy, maintain our high uptime statistics, and work with other open source developers on improvements to Mollom clients for non-Drupal systems.

In short, 2011 was a great year for Mollom. We're happy doing what we do, and we feel that we're helping to make the web a slightly better place. We wouldn't have made it this far without you -- our customers, users and friends. Without you, we wouldn't be a company at all. Thank you for 2011! We're looking forward to sharing a great 2012 with you.

Half a billion spam attempts blocked

We've just reached another huge milestones at Mollom: we blocked our 500,000,000th spam message!

Furthermore, Mollom is currently protecting close to 50,000 active websites, that is a 75% increase since the beginning of the year 8 months ago.

It's sad that our websites get bombarded by idiots. But the fact that Mollom blocked half a billion of their attempts, actually makes me feel a lot better!

Statistics august
Screenshot of the scorecard section on Molom.com.

New features for the Mollom module for Drupal

We have just released new versions of the Mollom module for Drupal 6 and Drupal 7. In addition to various bug fixes, as well as usability and API improvements, we have included two new end-user features. First, we've provided the ability to control the strictness of the text analysis. This allows you to control how aggressively Mollom should show CAPTCHAs and block spam. Second, we ported the profanity checking from the Drupal 7 version of the Mollom module to the Drupal 6 version. This means that you will be able to choose to use Mollom to block obscene language in addition to spam. Progress!

Mollom drupal text analysis strictness

Hosted moderation interface: call for testers

We're about to launch a new add-on product in private beta at Mollom. That new product is effectively a "hosted moderation interface". Our goals are to:

  1. Provide an optimized and intelligent moderation interface -- sort and bulk moderate comments by spam score, profanity content and more.
  2. Make it easier to moderate multiple websites -- moderate all your sites from a single, unified moderation interface.
  3. Make it easier to support moderation teams -- create moderation teams, define their workflows and track the performance of individual team members.
  4. Provide moderation as a service -- seamlessly outsource the moderation of your site fully or partially to a dedicated team.

The product is a work in progress, but we believe we'll soon be able to accept a limited number of private beta test users. If you're interested in being an early beta tester, sign up here or leave a comment on this post.

Mollom's highly-scalable backend infrastructure reviewed

High Scalability, a site dedicated to describing and cataloging successful, highly-scalable, websites, has recently posted a detailed review of Mollom's highly-scalable backend infrastructure.

As a web service protecting close to 40,000 websites, and handling about 100 requests per second, Mollom certainly qualifies as a site with much traffic. Currently, Mollom finds and prevents about half a million spam posts per day, and does a single spam check quickly, with low latency. Every feature we add to Mollom is carefully analyzed for its impact on speed. Personally, I can't wait to see Mollom grow even larger so that our scalability challenges become even more interesting.

The article, written from a series of interviews with Ben and Johan from the Mollom team and then interspersed with the author's own experiences with installing and using the service for himself, is incredibly detailed. It accurately describes much of Mollom's history, the challenges that we faced early on, and how those challenges were overcome. All in all, it provides a great look behind the scenes of the Mollom service. Thanks for the profile, HighScalability!

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