Spam. No, not the kind you might serve with eggs, fried rice or ramen. We’re talking about email and blog spam.
Especially blog spam.
Those pesky automated comments from sites shilling their wares. Folks looking for a backlink without any real contribution to the topic at hand. The saccharine flattery for your genius layout and “certainly distinctive understanding” of the subject, though the subject is never defined in the comment and the same flattery appears for more than one post.
That kind of spam is likely to give you indigestion.
Okay, the other kind might give you indigestion too. But anyway…
What are we to do about it?
The answer for many blogs seems to be CAPTCHAs, those twisted words
you’re required to decipher and type in to prove you’re not a computer. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.
As a blogger, I appreciate the desire to ixnay the amspay, I find them rather irritating as a reader. When I have to squint, stand on my head or repeatedly type in collections of letters that look increasingly like the names of some Lovecraftian beast because my ability to type what I see the first time around seems to have inexplicably failed, I get a wee little bit cranky.
Sure, I keep commenting on blogs regardless of the presence or absence of CAPTCHAs because I do respect another bloggers desire to keep the spam at bay but I can’t say that I always will.
Surely, there’s a better way to best the SpamBeast. The free version of WordPress offers a built-in Akismet Spam Filter that neatly wrangles the spamsters. WordPress.org also offers a free spam filter plugin. It seems likely that other blogging platforms have spam filters either built-in or available as a plugin.
Maybe we don’t need CAPTCHAs to keep our blogs spam free.
In my experience with Aksimet, virtually all spam is detected and collected in a spam folder. I can then delete the comments, save them for when I need a smile or future Gems from the Spam Filter posts. Aksimet alerts me to comments that seem iffy but may be legit and allows me to check comments from new visitors before approving the comment. This does take a little time but not much. Of course, I don’t get hundreds of comments a post either.
As my only experience with spam busting is through the built-in filter on my blog, I’m interested to hear other’s take on the situation.
So what do you think? Do CAPTCHAs work better than spam filters? Do they save valuable time for bloggers that get high traffic? Do CAPTCHAs irritate you as a reader? Enough to stop you from commenting?
Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
CAPTCHA Insanity by JillOW, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
DiffAngle by ColKorn1982, on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
Kitten vs Hand Wrestling by pinguino, on Flickr CC BY 2.0
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- CAPTCHA-busting service relies on CAPTCHA to block bots (go.theregister.com)
- Civil Rights CAPTCHA Technique Fends Off Spambots with Human Empathy (hothardware.com)
- People, Please! Turn the Captcha off! (heartfeltbalancehandmadelife.com)
- CAPTCHA’s Effect on Conversion Rates (seomoz.org)