The SPAMmers Were Getting Too Smart


I hate to do this. But those of you where are either subscribed to the comments feed or simply to any individual comments around here have been treated to a steady diet lately of SPAM from some bot who want your junk to be larger, IYKWIMAITYD.
To fight back, I’ve gone out and tried implementing as unobtrusive a human checker as I can find. Please give it a try to see if it is a pain, and leave me some feedback on whether you like it, you’d rather not have it, or if you don’t care.

If they don’t care, why on Earth would they leave a comment?

Have you seen how many people will follow the link to an internet poll and then answer Don’t Know, or even Don’t Care?

Point taken.

Here’s a little something cool to justify the hassle: The technology of making someone read some blurry, scratched out text that OCR software will hopefully get wrong is called Captcha. I’m using a service called reCaptcha, which throws a little public service into the mix. Originally developed by assorted boffins at Carnegie Mellon, and now owned by a company with the motto Don’t Be Evil Unless There’s a Lot of Money In It™, reCaptcha will give you two words to read instead of just one. For a while, I had wondered why two words, especially when one was usually easier to read, and often one wasn’t actually a word at all. There’s a reason for this.

Only one word is the actual test to see if you are a human, or really a disguised sub-routine of SkyNet, saving up money for the takeover of the world while ensuring that the men of the human race will be unable to run away from terminators due to tripping over their artificially enlarged members. That’s the one that usually isn’t a real word, has lines through it, odd blurring, etc.


He’d kill you, but he can’t read….

The other word is a real word, usually in English, that is often much clearer or in an archaic font. This word is an actual scan from an old book, magazine, or document that is being digitized. It’s one that has been flagged as giving the OCR software trouble. reCpatcha will take the consensus of readers logging in all over the world of what this word is and use it in the final electronic document. Cool, huh? By commenting here at the Pegu Blog, you are helping preserve our world literary heritage.
(Source: This podcast episode from How To Do Everything, which I just posted a review of.)

So please don’t pass on commenting just because I want to know you’re human, and because I’m well-enough endowed already, thank you.


  1. Doug

    13 May

    Test post, since some say it isn’t working….

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Dagreb

    13 May

    “some”, eh?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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