November 15, 2012

Got CAPTCHA?

Loneybu to you too! Is that a fraction?! Are you serious?
Do you know what that sound is? Those are the shrieking eels commenters. If you don't believe me, just wait. They always grow louder when they are about to feed on human flesh have to type in the CAPTCHA word three times because it's completely illegible.*

Ahem. Sorry 'bout that. I got a little carried away. But if you find yourself with a permanent QWERTY face tattoo over the frustration that is word verification, you'll understand exactly how I feel about the whole thing. (Team Disable CAPTCHA over here)


So what is CAPTCHA and what purpose does it serve?
"A CAPTCHA is a program that can tell whether its user is a human or a computer...CAPTCHAs are used by many websites to prevent abuse from "bots," or automated programs usually written to generate spam."**

It's what you see when you leave a comment on a word verification enabled blog. Actually, what you see is a string of letters and numbers called reCAPTCHA. I'm not going to lie, the idea behind reCAPTCHA is really interesting. While it's keeping spambots from having a field day, it's also helping to digitize books and newspapers. Especially with old texts, computers still aren't able to decipher difficult to read fonts. That's where we come in. If enough people agree that this mess of letters says loneybu, then it's safe to assume that this is correct. Score: Humans 1 Toasters 0 (if you don't get that reference you aren't geeky enough). For more info on this digitizing text thing, see this video: CAPTCHA (Thanks, Colin, for directing my attention to it.)

Why are people so rabidly anti-CAPTCHA?
Because:
1) We all follow a number of blogs. We have limited time to swing by, read a post, and then leave a comment before moving on to the next blog. Having to type in CAPTCHA slows readers down and quickly becomes frustrating.

2) Lately the CAPTCHA words/numbers have been especially bad. (See photo above.***) On an average day, I have to re-type CAPTCHAs not once, but a number of times when commenting. And you know what? I have near 20/20 vision.

But what about the dreaded Cylons spambots?
About a year or more ago, I removed word verification from my blog, and I've gotten only about 2 or 3 spammy-ish comments in all that time. And it was completely harmless, nonsensical stuff. If you're concerned about spambots, you can always set up comment moderation (Settings > Posts and Comments > Comment Moderation) as an alternative.

Here's the thing...
It's entirely up to you whether your blog has word verification or not. I'm not here to bully you into removing it. What I am trying to suggest is that you might be missing out on comments because readers would rather not go a round or two (or ten) with CAPTCHA. Comments are one of the main ways that we know people are reading what we post, and it's how we connect. If it takes readers twice as long to battle CAPTCHA as it does to type up a comment in the first place, they'll be less likely to bother. Or they'll leave all grumpy-pants and that's not something I, as a blogger, want to cause.

So how do I get rid of CAPTCHA?
If you haven't actually gone to your settings and disabled word verification, you've got a raging case of the CAPTCHAs.

Here's how to cure it:


Go to your Dashboard, select SETTINGS, then POSTS AND COMMENTS, scroll to SHOW WORD VERIFICATION and select NO from the dropdown. That should do it. If you're worried it's still lurking, ask one of your commenters to let you know whether or not it's officially gone. Again, don't feel like you have to remove it. This is just my own opinion and you're free to disregard it. It's something to consider, though.

* Thank you, Vizzini for inspiring this.
** From the reCAPTCHA site.
*** This is a screenshot I took when I was leaving a comment on someone's blog one day. Seriously.



15 comments:

  1. YES! Thank you. I did a similar post last year. I like the collective problem solving aspect of Captcha, but in practical terms I HATE it.
    I find that the blogger Spam detectors remove 98% of the spam comments anyway. :0)Hooray for spreading the word!!!!

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    1. I feel the same way. I like the idea of what CAPTCHA is doing, but it's just so irritating. And I think you're right about Blogger's spam detector, because I get pretty well none. :)

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  2. I hope I have my captcha off, because plenty of times I've tried to comment on a post and I just can't crack the captcha code. And I swear I'm not a robot! haha

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    1. Just went to your blog and left a comment, and you don't have CAPTCHA. Yay! :)

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  3. I hate CAPTCHA so I'm glad you've posted this!

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    1. I think the greater part of the blogging community does, so I figured it was time for a PSA. :)

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  4. Thanks for the shout-out, Jaime! I am still really impressed with the idea behind reCaptcha... but I also admit that it can be very frustrating. Perhaps a solution would be to have a third option: make the reCaptcha optional. This way, those who have a moment to spare and want to help digitize books can do so, and those who have twenty more blogs to visit can just leave their comment and move on. No doubt this would greatly reduce the number of people who participate in the reCaptcha project. But I think it's a friendlier option than insisting you pass the reCaptcha test to have your comment accepted. A message above the reCaptcha saying, "Help digitize books (optional):" might actually encourage people to give it a try, knowing that if they can't figure it out, they can post their comment anyway.

    There's my 2-cents. :)

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    1. I have to say, after watching that video you recommended, I was a lot less grumbly about CAPTCHA. But lately it seems that a good number of the blogs I'm visiting (particularly on RTW) are still word verification enabled. I grit my teeth and just type in those illegible letters telling myself "I'm helping digitize books" over and over again like a mantra. But lately they've just gotten so ridiculous and so much harder to read that my frustration levels have climbed.

      I think you're CAPTCHA optional idea is great, but like you mentioned, I think most people would opt out in the interest of saving time (and frustration). Thanks for sharing your two cents! Always appreciated. :)

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  5. Thanks for the instructions! When you and I were discussing this the other day, I thought it was going to be a lot harder to get rid of. I disabled mine now, but let me know if for some reason it didn't work :)

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  6. I HATE CAPTCHA! Thank you for spreading the good word. At one point I was a hypocrite, though, because Blogger spontaneously turned CAPTCHA on for my comments without me realizing it. (If it ever does that again--please, please let me know).

    I have recently started getting a ton of spam comments from Anonymous, probably because I started allowing unregistered comments so people could trackback URLs. It's not a huge problem so far because Blogger has successfully weeded all those comments to spam and they don't seem to show up as visible on my posts. Annoying to get the notification emails, though.

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  7. It is getting worse, isn't it? And here I thought it might just be me :)

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  8. Yes, yes, yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    You deserve a cookie. No, lots of cookies.

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  9. Bah-- I hate CAPTCHA. Nothing like trying to decipher wavy and blurry numbers and letters to make me feel REALLY old-- as if my Wally World Reader glasses didn't do that enough already.

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  10. I am definitely on team rabid anti CAPTCHA. Its nice and all thinking that you are digitalising books but when you cant read the word because it looks like an ink blot test it loses its charm!

    I'm dyslexic so words blur together anyway but when they are deliberately smooshed it is literally incomprehensible! Have any of you guys tried CAPTCHA bypass software? I downloaded one called RUMOLA that is a browser extension. Its excellent, detects when there is a CAPTCHA on the page and then fills it in for you! I think it was developed for the visually impaired but I say its good for anyone who just hates CAPTCHA or can't decipher them! If anyone fancies giving it a go then you can have a try at skipinput.com. I hope this helps someone with their CAPTCHA woes!

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  11. I hate CAPTCHA, mostly because I'm convinced we're training SkyNet to read and become self-aware.

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