Captcha Or No Captcha

Don’t you just hate them?

I know I do.

I’m talking about specimen of this:

Captcha no.1

Or even worse, this:

Captcha no.2

Captchas. Beloved of the Google Keyword Tool and other online behemoths forcing you to try and try again, refresh repeatedly, then guess and eventually digress into foul language.

Why do they use them?

To drive us mad? Probably, but also to stop spammers and their tame robots from flooding website with machine generated, incessant requests, messages and spurious backlinks leading pretty frequently to quite nasty things that lurk behind those links.

These giants of the Internet generally can afford to use them because we have to use their sites and services whether we like it or not.

Most annoyingly, in spite of all the antipathy they generate, you see them in use at times on sites that are much smaller. There, they hang out at the comment area where blog followers gather.

Some people compare them to a bad stench that drives fans and visitors away because the prospect of battling with one of these captchas is something pretty much everyone can do without.

I fully sympathise. I don’t really want to have to fight one of those after having spent time writing my comment to a blog post. My time is precious and so is my energy. Why should I unless I absolutely have to?

Ah, the sweet sound of Radio WIIFM.

Ahem. Now I have to confess. Seriously.

Yesterday, I installed a captcha on my new site. Yes. It’s here (click if you don’t believe me):

Big Videos For You

May I claim mitigating circumstances, please?

Firstly, I did not install one of those hate, frustration and apoplexy inducing monsters. Mine comes from a more civilised lineage:

Si-Captcha for WordPress

I, for one, don’t mind these.

Why did I do such a thing, though? Do I really want to drive off visitors to my site by making them shudder at the mere thought of commenting on posts and articles?

Of course, not. That is why I chose this rather genteel looking bouncer. Because a bouncer it is, and it will hopefully deter any troublesome spambot.

There is a reason for this madness. Hence my plea for mitigation.

You see, my very first website had a completely unprotected blog. I didn’t know from Adam what this suspicious looking Akismet thingy was that hovered in the plugin den, let alone allow myself to use it. Not a clever move as I was about to find out.

I wrote a blog post about how to capture still images from videos. At the time this was a not altogether obvious procedure.

As a consequence of the chosen topic, my post received a large number of visits from Russian ladies who couldn’t wait to make my acquaintance. About 300 visits … per day.

As I didn’t know how to deal with this attention seeking behaviour intelligently, and as I had no spam protection, I opted for radical surgery. I pulled the post.

Today, of course, me and my now great friend Akismet know how to deal with such overwhelming attention. Unfortunately, though, my new friend is at times somewhat overzealous and occasionally relegates a genuine post to the slammer. Which means that I then have to trawl through dozens if not hundreds of spam messages to rescue the serious comments from their miserable existence in the spam folder.

To give you a live example: A couple of minutes ago a located a trackback to this blog from Ryan Deiss’ Digitalmarketerlab. It was one in only 55 spam messages, so easily spotted. But…

Add to this that my new site is about video creation, and you can easily imagine that it has the potential of attracting hundreds of Russian and other ladies every day. You bet that I won’t trawl through these hordes.

That’s why I decided to lend a helping hand to trusted old Akismet by recruiting the rather friendly looking Si-Captcha-for-Wordpress as a doorman.

It comes recommended by well over a million users, so cannot be all bad. Installation was a cinch. We’ll see how it will perform its duties.

So far, I resisted installing it here. What do you think, should I install it here, too? Leave a comment below and let’s exchange views.

16 thoughts on “Captcha Or No Captcha

  1. Yeah! sometimes I get mad about captchas because there are some captchas thaa I could not understand. But it seems that it is a good point on your post about captchas. I also guess that if you get so many comments on your blog it’s a decent spam catcher.I’ll something new about this.

  2. Hey Max:

    I use the TanTanNoodles Simple Spam Filter. The great thing about this plugin is that it blocks and rejects obvious spam comments. If a comment gets rejected, then an error screen will be shown with an explanation of why the comment was rejected. At this point, an optional captcha (provided by reCAPTCHA) can also be configured to display, which allows people to confirm that their comment is indeed legitimate.

    This has worked so well for me, you should check it out.

    Take Care!

    – Rick

    1. This sounds like a perfect solutions, Rick. Kind of a combination between Akismet and regular captchas.

      Thanks for that, I’ll check it out now.


  3. Hi Max,
    Oh those poor lonely Russian ladies!LOL.

    As for to Captcha or not, it depends how friendly the Captcha is. I’ve seen some that are impossible to read, so you hit the speaker button for the audio and even those are hard to understand as someone talks over a screaming child or a woman speaking a different language. How stressful! And one thing I’m never sure of, does it matter if you enter the letters as capitals or not? Not always easy to tell the difference.

    But there are others that are easier to read. I use one for my contact email that’s like this. And I’ve also seen those in comments where you have to do a simple calculation like 5+2= ___. I was good in math, so I can answer those rather quickly 😉

    If they’re easy, I don’t mind taking the one or two extra seconds to address them.

    1. I agree, Louise. That’s why I decided in favour of the more civilised looking captcha.

      I’ve come across the 1+1-1 = ___ as well, sometimes even used in addition to a tick box that makes you confirm that you are human. I found those maths puzzles rather taxing until I had to help my daughter learn her times tables. 🙂

      The length to which we have to go to protect ourselves from spammers…


  4. Hey Max,

    Good point regarding capchas, if you get so many comments on your blog it’s a decent spam catcher. I never thought about that. Learned something new. I’ll get that in mind now!


  5. Hi Max “I’m not into captcha at all” they are a right pain
    and with the improvement of captcha solving services
    like death by captcha “spammers will still get past your doorman”
    I just dont think people have the time these days to leave comments
    and get past the dreaded captcha no matter how simple thay are to solve.
    I could be wrong and the only way to see if it works it is to test it.
    Good post Max

    1. Thanks, Mick.

      Well, I haven’t installed a captcha here.

      Let’s see how this works out on my other site. Time will surely tell.


  6. Hello Max

    I agree the nasty captcha that can’t be read and it takes numerous times to get it right are very annoying. I cringe every time I get the one from the Google Monster.

    I myself use Akismet to filter spam but I only get 20-30 a day so it’s not to hard to go through and I do try to go through them each day to catch the legitimate posts that get caught as spam. So far I wouldn’t use captcha on my blog.

    Now if I had a site that was getting 300 spam a day I would consider using captcha. So saying that, I would guess that it has it’s place if it was like the one you chose to use.


    1. I frankly can’t be bothered to check the spam filter every day, Dennis. Hence the lazy way out with captcha in anticipation of the deluge.

      Having said that, I just checked: 38 spam comments since I trashed the spam content last time (3 days ago). That’s still doable.


  7. Hi Max

    I personally do not like captchas as on some blogs I have been unable to leave comments because I could not get round the captcha.

    There are of course reasons why they came into being as you have said in your post they are to try and stop the automatic spammers who will bombard you with comments.

    One type I have seen is a number captcha and it is easier to enter the correct numbers. When I have seen it I usually have no problem filling it in.

    To use or not to use I think is an individual preference. I don’t think they are suitable on a blog with only a few comments per post, however if you are getting hundreds of spam comments then yes use a captcha.


    1. Richard, you fell victim to friend Akismet’s excess zeal. I just liberated your comment from the spam dungeon.

      I suppose if Dennis had not left his comment, I would have taken my time to check, and your poor comment would have left in captivity in the belief that it had been abandoned by the world.

      No, seriously though, where does this leave our Captcha-No-Captcha discussion now?



        1. But, as we just learned, it can be trained. Your comment was not relegated to the slammer again.


  8. Hi Max
    Aaaaaaargh!! Hate ’em!!
    The first 2 are actually some of the best I have seen. One site I visited, I had 5 attempts before I gave up so couldn’t even say I hated the captcha!
    It is a sorry state of affairs when we have to install such things.
    I can understand the reasoning behing it, but still hate ’em.

    1. I guess the first two were on exceptionally good behaviour when they had their photo taken, Dee. Normally, they are downright hooligans, that’s why I chose no. 3 for my other site.

      Let’s see how that works out.


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