Keep out the comment spam bots! On the receiving end of much internet spam roach droppings, I understand the use of captchas, those random letter combos generated as graphics, intended to keep out the automated spam bots on web submission forms. I have used them myself.

So I like them when the work for me, but oi! I cringe when I have poured my eneergy into writing the perfect comment and eager to see it posted, and Zam! I am forced to squint at some obscure twisted set of letters and punch the into the box. It really does short circuit the connection experience you just made with a blog writer and your communication. It completely drops a trap door open on your usability experience.

But okay, necessary, small evils we can live with.

What I do not like living with are crappy captchas, the ones that make you work hard to decipher, like this one:

craptchas.jpg

While this one is rather legible in terms of the numbers/letters you can see (as opposed to some of those twisted ones on Blogger and elsewhere), if I did not bother to read the caption, I would not have thought there were five characters to monkey type in the form it sure looks like C484 to me. And don’t you wonder on these things:

What if I get it WRONG? Does it eat my comment, does it put my IP address on a bad list? (I know the answer, but it is not obvious to the victim)

Sigh, one more thing 98% of the web needs to jump through hoops for due to the abuse of its open-ness by link spam harvesters. This could all change in a heart beat or two, if Google woke up, smelled the spam, and took away the incentives that link rank creates.

Ouch, I keep dreaming.

The post "C[r]apchtas" was originally pulled charred and crispy from a smoky charred oven at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2006/12/crapchtas/) on December 18, 2006.

4 Comments

  • I had the same problem on my forum Alan. The CAPTCHA that comes with phpBB has been cracked by bots for quite some time now, so I was getting all sorts of spam. I then tried an advanced CAPTCHA (that looks very much like the one you posted), and quickly realized it was a pain in the butt.

    The solution? I now textual confirmation instead of visual confirmation on my forum. Not only is it visually-impaired friendly, but it’s a lot easier for a human being to answer the question “What planet do we live on?” than to decipher some cryptic looking image, and I haven’t had a single spam bot register on the site since.

  • D'Arcy Norman darcynorman.net

    meh. I’ve been presented with a captcha every time I post a comment on your blog for a while now. It hasn’t liked me for months, and accuses me of being an evil spammer – punished by having to decipher a captcha :-)

  • Gulp, mea culpa. It was that, or everything you posted was flagged by SK as spam! I still think it was tripping up on that funky apaostrophe in your name — somewhere in PHP codeville, it was not doing a stripslash/addslash were needed.

    But hey, how bad is my craptcha? I’ve never seen it….

  • Don’t forget about accessibility issues. If you’re having problems, imagine the readers who are either blind or have other vision problems. I was using one for a while, till the accessibility issue came on in my head like a light bulb. I’m using a challenge/answer trap now: http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/wordpress/wp-gatekeeper.html