When I moved to the new design, I switched the “popular posts” plugin to the much more feature rich plugin “Popularity Contest” by Alex King. I really like the plugin and the features that it added. I like that I can weight the different aspects of the posts popularity. If I think that Comments are most important, I can weight them higher than pageviews.
One downside to the plugin is that it counts all comments made. That means that any comment that a spammer leaves gets counted. Even if Akismet catches it. What that does when you have a couple of popular spam comment targets is to skew the popularity counts and make your spammiest posts your most popular. In effect, it becomes a most popular spam post list.
I haven’t yet found a permanent fix to the problem. One way I’ve found to help with it (I haven’t implemented it) is to use both Akismet and Spam Karma. I haven’t done that because I didn’t like Spam Karma the last time I used it. Personal choice.
I did, however, find a bit of a workaround to the problem. The plugin options page has a button for recalculating the numbers. Every time I go to delete my spam from Akismet, I then just add the step of going to the options page for Popularity Contest and click that button. It resets and recounts the counts without the deleted spam comments included. Giving a bit more accurate list.
Of course, the downside is that if I don’t delete spam for several days it still will be heavily skewed until I delete them and recalculate. I’d like for it to be automatic or just not count the spam queue comments altogether. I’m sure that it could be done via some code to eliminate certain flagged comments in the DB, but I really don’t feel like tearing apart the plugin code to figure it out. Hopefully, Alex will find a way around it in a future release.
Until then, that’s my workaround.