Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Few Words on Spam

Note: This post does not apply to Google+ comments, which I have semi-recently started using, because you can't use word verification with Google+ comments. Yay!

A long while back, I was reading one of my favorite blogs when I came across a post on CAPTCHA and spam filters. (For those of you wondering, I'll explain what these are in a moment.) Basically, the post was so convincing, I turned off my CAPTCHA settings for this blog. In three years of blogging, never once have I turned it back on - or even considered it.

So let's talk about spam, because this is something that bothers me lately.

Obviously, I'm not talking about processed meat in a can. Nor am I about to launch into a discussion of how much I hate spam and can't trolls and hackers find something better to do? There's enough of that on the internet; it's obvious the only people who don't hate spam are the ones sending it.

No, I'm here to talk about CAPTCHA spam filters, and how they're really just as bad as spam itself.


First of all: Defining Filters

You're reading a blog. You decide to comment on a post. You type in your thoughts, your name, possibly a login or email... and then are asked to enter a bizarre selection of numbers and/or letters from blurred, swirly images to prove you are human. This is CAPTCHA. (Sometimes you come across the elementary-arithmetic variety of filter, but those aren't nearly as common or as problematic.)

It's kind of hilarious, when you think about it. But that's not all it is...

Second matter of business: The Problem With Filters

(1) They're annoying. I growl every time I see one. Not joking.
(2) They're time-consuming. I just wrote out my wonderful, totally important comment, and now you want me to prove it's worthy of your time with a bunch of pointless letters?
(3) They're inconvenient and, often, downright difficult. I mean, seriously, I'm almost out of high school and I still can't make out half those images. What's with this?!
(4) They're counterproductive. You may think you're keeping spammers away, but you don't realize how many real comments you're also blocking. Readers either get frustrated and give up, or don't see the filter come up after clicking "publish" and assume their comment is now live.

Now, finally: Going Filter-Free

The thought of all the spam that will be loosed upon your blog is frightening... until you actually take the plunge and discover that you were worried over nothing. Seriously, in three years of blogging, nearly all that time filter-free, I've had maybe two or three spam comments make it onto my posts. That's one per year. Not really a big problem! Plus it's super-easy to manually delete spammy comments.

So, if you'd like to get rid of filters yourself (and you use Blogger), I can tell you how! Trust me, it is sooo worth it, and a lovely something you can do to help out your readers. Go to your Dashboard, and then to Settings in the left-hand sidebar. Under Settings, click on Posts and Comments. There's a little spot reading Word Verification - the official/techy name for spam filters and CAPTCHA. Click NO in the drop-down bar, and make sure you save your settings. Voila - you're filter-free! Congratulations!

For another discussion of CAPTCHA and a photo-guided version of how to turn it off, check out my friend Cait's post: http://www.notebooksisters.com/2013/12/how-to-rid-your-blog-comments-of-captcha.html

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