Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Word about "that word"

.... yep I mean that bliddy annoying word that appears in the word verification box, aka a Captcha.

Recently I have seen on more than one blog campaigns to persaude people to turn this annoying little device off. I have tried to leave a comment on one of these blogs which clamied they would accept comments both for and against the idea. It seems however that my comment and the aruguments I presented in favour of word verification was ignored.

Edit : I have since re-read that post and realised I have mis-interrpreted the bloggers statement about accepting comments. While the blog owner was happy to read politely worded arguments against the idea of turning off word verification there was no guarantee made that such comments would actually be published.

Anyhow this is why I have word verification turned on :

Firstly I have seen, by chance in real time, a friend's blog being spammed. I subscribe to her blog and saw she had posted so went to look - her post was only a few minutes old and I was surprised to see there were already about 5 comments! I clicked on the link so I could leave my comment and low and behold there were now 7 comments.... duh? how did that happen so fast..... well I looked at the comments and it was immediately obvious to me that the blog was being spammed and it was happening right there and then!

Google (it was a blog hosted on Blogger) then took over and I assume some safety measure in their programming stepped in to shut down the ability to comment on that blog. Certainly that stopped the spamming in it's tracks, but it left the blog comments facility locked up for quite some time - I know because I really wanted to leave that comment to tell my freind how fab her work was so I kept trying and it was quite a while before I was able to access the comments page!

I have seen spamming happen in real time to on a forum, the spam posts were hitting at a rate of over One Thousand per hour and were full of profanity. I worked as a sysop on the site and alerted a tech to the took him over an hour to write his own script to block the spams and delete them faster than they were arriving! That was the only way he could fight it at the time as the site owner was not available and the tech did not have full access to all aspects of the programming. The next day the site owner promptly added a Captcha to the forum to prevent similar spam attacks in the future

So while that word verification tool can be annoying why make it easier for script kiddies to have fun at our expense? Do you really want to find profane comments on your blog.... or adverts for god knows what unsavoury web sites? Sure the "word" can be the pits to read sometimes...but you know what ... some of them are dead easy to read ... so just keep hitting submit and the "word" will change each time till you get one you CAN read easily and type back into the verification box.

Edit : Incase anyone would like to know a little more about captchas then this site offers relatively simple information which you may find interesting, particularly if you have been led to believe that captchas are so easily broken that they are effectively worthless.


  1. Thanks Sweety I had my capthca turn off, cause thought it was annoying. My comments go to my email,but you have changed my mind. Hope everything is well Hugs

  2. Good point ! That's why I always moderate comments left on my blog. But the captcha system is useful for people who don't have the time to moderate. Having said that it helps sorting the wheat from the shaff when moderating...

  3. Yup I don't like it when captchas are extremely hard to read. But been there with the crummy leeching spam attacks and they are much more of a pain! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. Well said and politely put Phree! I agree wholeheartedly. For the sake of 10 extra seconds - I'd rather be safe than sorry, fumming and out of action till goodness knows when.

  5. Thanks for this post Phree. I had looked on my blog settings to see if I could disable the word verification but couldn't find it. Thank goodness. It is annoying when you are trying to get round as many blogs as possible in a short time but now I can see how necessary word verification is.
    Beryl xx

  6. I'll stick with just having them arrive in my email with the annoying word verification that makes leaving comments for people so irritatingly long-winded. I haven't seen any arguments against capthca that suggest going without any protection as your friend seems to have done and I prefer knowing that my comment will be read by someone who has it enter there email. Comments on older posts, which I/we do get, would be pointless without that. The owner isn't likely to know they are there.

  7. I have mine turned off Phree, I moderate all comments so I thought I would try it.

    I have had three or four attempts at comments by obvious spammers which I rejected, so not too bad so far and of course they don't make it to the blog unless I say so.

    I have seen spammed blogs but the bloggers who doesn't moderate are leaving themselves wide open to spammers.

    I often end up having to retype the letters two or three times, and I know how annoying it is especially when you visit lots of blogs with little time.

  8. Thanks Phree. I had thought about turning mine off but was a bit dubious. Having read your post I'm going to leave well alone and not give it another thought.


  9. Hey there. I am totally in favour of the Captcha too. Sure its annoying, but I would rather have that than be spammed. Its also no more annoying than waiting to see your post if it has to be approved by the blog author.
    I'm with you - lets block the script kiddies (love that description) from messing up our blogs with their rubbish. I have encouraged heaps of people to use this feature on their blogs and will continue to do so.

    ps: found your blog through Michelle Zindorfs, through the link on your comment on her "You Rock" card.

  10. An interesting post Phree. I hate word verification and it's one of the reasons I moved to Wordpress because they really seem to have the whole spam thing sussed out so much better. There's a trust system in place so people who have had one previously moderated comment can leave comments subsequently with no moderation or captcha needed. They have a built in spam filter which catches the genuine spam and so far (touch wood) it has worked brilliantly.

    I see the arguments for and against and actually think it's lazy of Blogger not to get better at dealing with the problem at source I expect they'll steal the trusted commenter idea at some point in the future though.