Thursday, October 23, 2014


Sou | 9:34 PM Go to the first of 17 comments. Add a comment

Someone complained about Captcha changing and becoming more difficult to read. The reason I use it is to save work. I recently disabled it for a short time and got a huge amount of spam, more than I can cope with. And that was in only about four hours or so.

Thing is, I don't have any control over it. (I don't even see it.) Just the same, I'd be glad for some feedback. Let me know if it's worse than normal and I'll send a message to Google on the slight chance they'll read it and do something about the situation.

(If you're on the main page, click "read more" to send feedback.)



  1. Sou,
    I also have a Blogger blog. I don't generally use captcha, and I get quite a lot of spam. But Blogger is good at spotting it and it doesn't get through to the site, or appear in latest comments or RSS (as it used to).. The main annoyance is that I get email notification. But I could scrub all email notification if that got too bad.

  2. Captcha here alternates between numerical and character modes. The numerical mode is relatively easy but the character version can be a bit of a bugger. I much prefer numerical. If it could be set to that permanently, that would be ideal and by the sound of things it would suit you as well Sou. (FWIW, we are back on numerical mode again...)

    1. With regard to format changes, it's helpful to know that Google's captcha offers the relatively easy numerical challenges or the more difficult puzzles depending on whether or not the system has reason to believe you're a bot.

      Per Google:

      "The updated system uses advanced risk analysis techniques, actively considering the user’s entire engagement with the CAPTCHA—before, during and after they interact with it. That means that today the distorted letters serve less as a test of humanity and more as a medium of engagement to elicit a broad range of cues that characterize humans and bots.

      As part of this, we’ve recently released an update that creates different classes of CAPTCHAs for different kinds of users. This multi-faceted approach allows us to determine whether a potential user is actually a human or not, and serve our legitimate users CAPTCHAs that most of them will find easy to solve. Bots, on the other hand, will see CAPTCHAs that are considerably more difficult and designed to stop them from getting through."

      So just don't behave like a bot and you'll be fine. :-)

      More here:

    2. So now a bloody machine is setting *me* a Turing test and (occasionally) telling me it has its doubts...?

      It's political correctness run mad, I tell you.


    3. BBD -

      Just think, in a few decades the machines will be running their own blogs, and setting tests to make you prove that you are not a human before being allowed to comment..


    4. So, let me understand this. You fail a captcha so the machine thinks you might be a bot. So it sets you a more difficult captcha to confirm that. Which of course, as it is even more difficult, you fail again, thus confirming you are a bot.

      Has no-one told these machines that "To err is human"?

  3. I agree with BBD. I used have much trouble over at Eli's with character mode, and here too, and had to keep Previewing until something appeared that was recognisable. It can depend upon the viewing device. Now let me see what happens.... OK cycling using Edit I see for sure that it flashes up an alternative first and then another, but both are recognisable at this time. Had to use a magnifying lens to read the last number presented.

  4. Some time ago the character Captcha's were so hard, that I almost wondered whether the test was whether you could recognise the solvable puzzles. Currently the number Capcha's are perfectly solvable for me.

    If you turn Notify on, you also get all the spam. Thus I would prefer a version with as little spam as possible.

  5. I use wordpress blogs (both The X Blog and Scienceblogs.com). I allow comments to go through only after a person has had a comment approved, and akismet is installed. Akismet catches all the spam, spam simply never reaches the site.

    1. Akismet catches me too.
      Though my good name seems to be recovering.

  6. Thanks everyone for the feedback. Google and Wordpress have different ways of coping with spam. Google is pretty good at filtering spam. What Captcha does is prevent most spam. Almost none gets into the spam folder when Captcha is enabled.

    The results of the survey so far:

    20% found captcha harder than usual, 80% didn't.

    Like vs dislike of captcha is 50/50, though almost everyone (>90%) prefers Captcha to spam.

    22% of respondents hate HotWhopper - 78% love it :)

    I'll remove Captcha for a couple of days and see how things go.

    (The trade-offs are the huge amount of spam that comes through without captcha, though you probably won't see most of it vs the risk that your comment will get caught in the spam folder and I won't notice because the folder is so full of spam vs your pain in having to go through Captcha.)

    1. Sou

      One commenter, one vote. I speak for myself alone but I say turn Captcha on if it saves work. This blog must consume enough of your time as it is. I can cope with the twisty letter puzzles when the impertinent and wretched software decides that I may be less than human.

    2. I agree with BBD. If you had some control of the type of captchas then I would suggest using the number ones. But as you don't then I am sure we can live with the occasional captcha riddle.

  7. After promising to turn off Captcha, it looks as if I can no longer do so. I turned it off a few hours ago and wondered why there was no spam. Turns out that Google in its wisdom has just in the last couple of days made Captcha compulsory. You cannot turn it off.

    If you're logged into Blogger or Google you might not see it. Otherwise you probably will.

    I'm sorry about that.


  8. I really HATE this change, I moderate all comments on my blog so the captcha is just making users stop leaving comments!


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