March 7, 2015

Must I put a captcha on my blog to stop spammers?

We knew that captcha is a dirty word among bloggers, but only during the current survey of blogosphere for compilation of the best blogs' directory have we realized that it is an extremely hated thing among blog visitors.

We all are annoyed by the twisted, unintelligibly written, confusing text and numbers that we have to enter before we are allow to go ahead, e.g. before filling an online application. Captchas reside everywhere: utility sites, online forms, comments on blogs and other interactive websites, etc etc. Captchas annoy no ends when they are extremely undecipherable and when our correct answers are rejected by the site. Some of us are put off at the sight of captcha and would run away from the site unless we are forced to bear it because we want to do some online transaction.

But blog posts are seldom a necessity for a visitor. He can run away if he does not like something in the blog or in a particular post. So, should we force a captcha on the visitor wanting to interact with through the comment box or comment form?

Why we put a captcha at all?

Most bloggers who place a captcha at the commenting box do so as they feel that captchas protect the blog from automated comment spam. That is mostly true, though a captcha is not a guarantee that the blog is fully protected against a spam attack.

Some bloggers have never given a thought to it. If the blogging platform threw a choice to have or not to have a captcha, they sleepily clicked on 'yes'.

A much smaller portion of bloggers seem to feel that putting a captcha is a show of knowing more technology than not putting it.

Why you need not put a captcha, and why you should not put it.

Captchas are a nuisance even if technically they make it difficult for bots to fill comment boxes with spam. For a blogger, nothing can be worse than a visitor who wanted to make a comment on a post but has left as he was put off by the captcha.

Captcha is also disabled-friendly. Older persons too find it difficult to discern the mingled alphabets and digits. These also put a lot of strain on people whose mother tongue is not the same as that of the captcha.
 a reCaptcha

There are other, better, options to reduce spam. You can moderate each comment before publishing it. You can also think of allowing only certain verified users to comment – though that too is less friendly than allowing quick and anonymous comments.

If a website or blog receives a large number of genuine comments, it would need some form of automated check on spam because it becomes a big task to check each and every comment at regular intervals. In you are a hugely popular blogger, you can go for captcha’s more friendly alternatives such as reCaptcha offered by Google and some other websites. (In a reCapcha [image given here], the visitor has to just click once on a box or somewhere else.) There are some other ways, such as mathematical captcha (in which the visitor is asked to solve a simple math equation) and asking visitors to identify the correct picture from many given, but these too might irritate some.

By the way, do you know that ‘captcha’ is an acronym for completely automated public turing test to tell computers and humans apart?

You may like to visit this earlier post on comment spam.