Friday, March 22, 2013

CAPTCHAs and Spam

I tried an experiment a couple of days ago — I turned off word verification to see what would happen. For a couple of days, there were a very few Anonymous spam posts. Then, this morning, I woke to about 120 e-mails notifying me of comments on this blog from Anonymous — all spam, all posted between 2130 and 2200 GMT. Now, many of them complimented me on the extraordinary nature of my blog posts and my incredible talent as a webmaster. LOL! Really?

Well, fortunately, my self-esteem doesn't depend on anonymous postings from people who want me to click on a link to their (likely) virus-infested web sites. And, I certainly don't want an ever-increasing number of spam notifications filling up my inbox. So, I've reenabled word verification for comments.

Maybe hate is too strong, but I get seriously annoyed by CAPTCHAs. About half the time, I can't figure out what I'm supposed to type and either get it wrong or have to click on the button that gives a different CAPTCHA. (The example to the left is easy to decipher.) However, I find the other option — having commenters register or sign-in — equally annoying. My apologies. I do really like legitimate comments. I like reading other opinions. I like knowing that someone has found a post interesting or helpful. It's nice to know that someone has taken a moment from their day to let me know they read what I wrote.

As an aside, did you know that CAPTCHA actually means something? Google's Help page says this:
The term CAPTCHA (for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) was coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University. At the time, they developed the first CAPTCHA to be used by Yahoo.

  • What security measure do you find least annoying for blog comments — CAPTCHAs or something else?
Run well, y'all,
Bob Allen
Nairobi, Kenya
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