How Annoying Is the Captcha?


Over here Randy asked a really good question: Why does every comment require a Captcha response (that's the little thingy where you type text that's hard for spam robots to read)?

Here's why ... some comment spammers will create accounts manually (easily answering the Captcha) and only THEN turn their robots loose on comment forms that don't have Captcha. Those robots work fast and, before you know it, we've got tons of spam comments that need to be deleted. So that's why we require the Captcha for every comment.

But there are some alternatives. One that we've considered selectively shows the Captcha depending on the "reputation" of the commenter (i.e. comment history) and text analysis of their comment. It's free/cheap, but would require some work to implement.

It's times like this that I love to turn to you, the Network community!

What do you think ... how annoying is the Captcha? Does it deter you — even a bit — from posting a comment? What about new users?

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Tim: Thanks for explaining that. At LAST someone tells me what that annoying thingy is. Why didn't I ask you before? Now that I know it serves a useful function, I will more eagerly and committedly use it not only for Network comments, but for the many other internet sites that use Captcha. Thanks again. (But sometimes these old eyes have trouble reading the script--not your problem, I guess.)

I think requiring the captcha based on reputation would be worthwhile, or even moderating (I imagine they would/could be moderated quickly) comments if it gets bad again.


I should have mentioned that the tool we use - reCPATCHA - actually serves an additional function...helping digitize old texts that require human (rather than computer) recognition.

It's nice that those 30 million entries/day are being harnessed for some extra good. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.


If it's based on reputation...that explains why I have to do it every time! You can never escape your past.... ;)

Hi Tim,  The captcha is usefull. Maybe we could make it words more distinct. I have MS and it

is difficult to read and prosess.  





I have MS and it is difficult to read and prosess. 


Thanks Ken and others who have raised this concern. With the continued growth of The Network, we've decided to pursue a more advanced spam-prevention system. Among it's many features, this system (Mollum) will require much fewer Captchas from legitimate users while still requiring them from new users (including spam robots).

I can't give a specific timeframe yet, but will post an update in the coming weeks.

Thanks Tim,

   Sounds great, But are you sure you want to make access for me easier? (just jokeing) thanks for opening a portal of believers to people like me! God will remember this.  God bless you


Greetings, all who are following this thread.

I wanted to let you know that our new spam-prevention tool just went live in the past hour. So hopefully you'll see fewer Captchas as you post on The Network. The new system analyzes the content being posted to determine the likelihood of spam, and then only displays the captcha if it thinks it necessary.

We'll be keeping a close eye on it in the next 24-48 hours to make sure it's all working correctly. If you see any problems, feel free to email us at [email protected]  Thanks for helping us continue to improve the Network's accessibility and user experience.



Old thread but after returning to network after continuing illness, captcha and login requirements are more difficult. I really don'tsee the need anymore. What are we protecting ?  I'm not worried about my password because who is going to hack a account when you can join annoymously? What are we protecting other than spam which can be blocked other ways. Thanks

Hi Ken,

Captchas are not about protecting the integrity of a user account but about preventing bots from registering on the Network and posting SPAM such as links to advertising or to malicious or 'immoral' websites. Humans can much more easily decipher distorted characters than any computer program currently available. Theoretically, Captchas ensure only humans can register and post comments.

Anyone can set up a Twitter account so why hack them? My Twitter account was hacked and then followed a litany of Tweets purportedly from me but all featuring links to 'amazing new products'.

Anyone can open an anonymous Hotmail account but ALL users that I know have had their accounts hacked and all their contacts, including me, started getting torrents of SPAM.

Ease of availability of anonymous accounts of all conceivable types is no assurance that existing user accounts won't get hacked. A scenario: a malicious new account with a name you don't recognize SPAMs you. Do you open the email and click links or do you delete it because you don't recognize the sender? Hopefully the latter Ken! If a trusted friend APPEARS to have sent you an email, are you not much more likely to click on links in them, perhaps expecting to see something pertinent to both your interests? That's why user accounts get hacked.

Hope that helped.