Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oh, Captcha, how I hatecha!

Like many others that blog about sewing, I have ditched the captcha. You no longer have to type a captcha so comment away!

I read and appreciate every comment. But I find deciphering captchas so difficult, I often forgo commenting on others' sites. How many others do, too?

So, as an experiment, I decided to ditch captchas.

Then I discovered that Blogger has a pretty good spam comment detector. I did not know about it until last week. From the Blogger Dashboard, select the blog you would like to manage, then click on the comments tab at the top. You should see something like this:

The comments that Blogger suspects are spam are not published until owner approval. I found a genuine comment in there that had languished in spam purgatory since 2010. (Sorry!)

Now that I have figured it out, it's fairly painless and easy. Whenever I post, I make it a new habit to check the comments, delete the spam, and (possibly) liberate the "ham*" mistaken for "spam". The Blogger algorithm must be pretty good because I have only found one false positive, a genuine comment in the spam box, and EVERY spam comment has been correctly identified.

Read more about the Google/Blogger Comment Inbox. I hope you, too, will decide to take advantage of AI and get rid of captchas.

* Don't you love the technical terms, "ham" and "spam"? I learned that in the online Artificial Intelligence class I took last year. For homework, we even calculated the odds that strings of words were spam or ham based on a "training set". Fun!


  1. that's great news, thanks for sharing! I'm also slightly put off by the 3-step comments process, it's annoying.

  2. Clearly, I am a robot as it takes me two or three tries to get the captcha right every time I try to make a comment.

    I now have a habit of copying my comment before trying to publish since blogger often deletes my comments as it reloads a new captcha. I look forward to hitting PUBLISH here and having my comment appear as if by magic.

  3. I hate the captcha as well, and have had to stop commenting a few places because I just can't get it right. It is especially bad when they put a word in white type on the dark background.

  4. I spent some time trying to figure out how to turn the captcha off. It turns out that it's impossible from within the new (and improved?) Blogger interface. I verified that the following instruction, found online, do seem to work:

    "The new word verification system has a lot of people annoyed. Most of them are difficult and some of them are impossible. But you do not have to use Word Verification. You may have to go back to the old interface (gray/tan background dashboard) to change it. If you have the white background on your dashboard you are in the new interface. Click the blog name to get the overview and then the gear to open a dropdown menu. Choose to return to the old interface and go to settings--comments. Word verification is there--say no and save changes. You can return to the new interface now, and the Word Verifications will be gone from your blog. "

  5. @Brent
    Thanks for the detailed instructions. I have yet to switch over to the new Blogger because I can't read the white on white interface. The UX is so poorly designed, I cannot fathom how it could have been released.

  6. Thanks badmomgoodmom and brent for encouraging me to eliminate captchas on my blog. They are a pain. Just like the new interface. I tried it for one session, and quickly decided it wasn't easy to use. I love my old dashboard!

  7. I'm glad @Brent posted the detailed instructions! I just followed them. I HATE the new captchas. They have gotten too hard. We'll see if I get a bunch of new spam now- a few spam comments get through the filters from time to time even with the captchas.

    Now, does anyone know how to make the link back thing actually work? I've enabled it, but it doesn't work. And I can't be bothered figuring out why!

  8. It's not only annoying, it's completely inaccessible to folks who use screen readers -- and yes, blind people read blogs! So thanks.


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