Saying No To Spam on Smitten Kitchen’s Popular Food Site


For many bloggers, they see their site as a path to transfer their passion in a hobby into a follow-time career. The site Smitten Kitchen launched the career of its creator, Deb Perelman, leading to book deals, cooking TV show appearances, and a Bloggie award for best food blog. 

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2.3 million spam

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In this case study, we sit down with Deb Perelman, creator of Smitten Kitchen, who wields Akismet to build her incredible online following.

Full Case Study

If you tour the world of food blogs there’s a good chance you have come across Smitten Kitchen. The site was created by Deb Perelman in 2006. The blog has catapulted Deb into the ranks of celebrity chefs, as she has three best-selling cookbooks, appeared as a judge on Beat Bobby Flay, and has other culinary achievements. continues to be the primary connection point with her fan base. Comments are critical. In fact, when Deb launched the blog it was focused on dating, and she met her husband-to-be in the comments section of her blog – he was the fourth person to comment. 

Reader comments for each recipe often number in the thousands such as this post for Mom’s Apple Pie and this post for Best Birthday Cake, with fans asking questions and sharing their stories of success and failure with the recipes. In some cases, a fan might just want to leave a single word or short sentence to express their appreciation. If the fan had to face a captcha every time, or worse comments were turned off, the site might have many fewer comments. 

What is vital is the lack of spam in the comment section. On other recipe and food sites, you might find self-serving affiliate links or off-topic promotions snuck in. If spam was prevalent on, it would send a signal that the community was not authentic and that nobody cared to curate the site. 

2000 comments for a single recipe on

Multiple Benefits to Akismet

For the past three years now, Smitten Kitchen has been running Akismet to block spam in comments. The benefits of Akismet are:

  • Smitten Kitchen doesn’t need to hire a moderator to manually review comments. As Akismet is a WordPress plugin and is automatically updated, nobody at Smitten Kitchen needs to manage it. 
  • Commenters don’t need to pass any captcha tests to prove they are not robots in order to leave a comment. 
  • Some sites don’t offer comments. However, Google indicates that it uses comments when it weighs which sites to give visibility over others. As recipes are a highly competitive market, the flourishing of comments on SmittenKitchen is valuable.  

With all of its commenting, Smitten Kitchen is rewarded by Google with search rank. This is invaluable in a space like recipes, where there are hundreds of listings for very similar foot items, and comments are key to standing out from the pack.

The community that supports Smitten Kitchen is phenomenal. When I check the stats I can’t believe how much spam would be polluting the site. Akismet has made it easy to keep our comments safe and clean.”

Deb Perelman, Founder at SmittenKitchen
Deb Perelman in her New York City kitchen; Source: YouTube @smittenkitchening
CommunityWelcoming a community starts with the Smitten Kitchen website. From there it continues to Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels. If the Smitten Kitchen website had no comments or put the community off solving Captcha puzzles, community engagement elsewhere might be lower.
SEORecipe sites are similar to many other niches where sites compete fiercely for search rank. Sites that ignore Google’s guidance that they value user comments, are dropping the ball, especially as managing comments with Akismet is so easy.
ReputationIf Smitten Kitchen were to allow spam comments it would impair the reputation of the site and its creators.
Smitten Kitchen’s website doesn’t have a staff committed to moderation. Having Akismet on hand to automate the moderation of the comments means that the site can be lively and active without constant supervision to make sure it stays clean of spam.

Smitten Kitchen is a Captcha-test Free Zone

Imagine asking your site visitors to solve annoying puzzles just so they can comment that your cake recipe was delicious? Granted captchas are ubiquitous. That’s what makes Captcha-free sites so pleasing as they are a break from low expectations. For Smitten Kitchen’s website, they want it to be a welcome and simple experience, rather than one where you might be blocked from commenting because you didn’t see stairs in one image.

“To click or not to click?”

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