Setting Traps


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Anyone who has blogged for a reasonable amount of time will be well acquainted with the problem of spam. Spam comments abound on most blogs although, luckily, readers don’t usually get to see them because they have been filtered out. It’s the perennial problem – how to deal with spam and keep it dealt with.

You could, of course, arrange your setting so that every single comment has to be moderated, but that is both time consuming for the blogger, and frustrating for the visitor who took the time to put their thoughts in a comment. If we’re honest, most of us still secretly celebrate when someone posts a genuine comment on our work, don’t we? Having taken the time to compose a response, it would be nice for the commenter to see their comment straight away, surely?

Personally, I use Akismet, as many bloggers do. I love it. In all the time I’ve had this blog,it has never let me down. It does occasionally class a genuine comment as spam, but it has never done it the other way around. This impresses me, especially if you look at how sophisticated some spam comments are becoming – a well(ish) written response to a post, that addresses what you’ve written, makes sense, sounds genuine. But it’s submitted against the wrong post and the URL attached to it is spammy. You might miss this if you were filtering manually. Anyway, it’s a good system.

The captcha that put me over the edge and caused this post

The captcha that put me over the edge and caused this post

And then there’s another option, also fairly popular. The captcha. I’m going to come right out and say it: I hate captcha. Because they are so easily bypassed, they’ve become more and more elaborate, and the characters you’re asked to copy have become more and distorted to try and trick those nasty bots. Unfortunately, they also trick a fair amount of genuine people. If they’re printed on any kind of patterned background to make them difficult to see, it works – I can’t see them properly. If they are twisted and turned and half hidden, I can’t make them out either. Today I wrote a comment on a blog and went to submit, my heart sinking when I saw the captcha. It was

Is this one better for you?

Is this one better for you?

a nightmare, and prompted this post. I couldn’t read the first enough to even attempt it, nor the second. I tried the third and got it wrong. Twice. And then I gave up. I don’t love your blog enough to spend longer trying to satisfy the captcha than it took me to write my reply.

Is this really the best way to filter out spam? No, is the short answer. It’s hard enough to entice people to comment on blog posts as it is, without putting them off when they decide to.

So, here is my plea: Bloggers – scrap the capthca, please. Fix yourself up with a decent spam filter and give everyone’s eyes (and sanity) a break. I thank you.

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