reCAPTCHA: Stop Spam, Read Books.

As this site becomes more popular and easier to find on the internet, we have been targeted by more and more automated "spam posting" robots. They try to post comments anonymously and/or register as members so that they can do more spam posting.

To help prevent this, we have chosen to use a very cool system called "reCAPTCHA" to test for non-humans when either of the above two things occur. You've probably seen them before... The squiggled words that are easy enough for you and I to read, but are very difficult for a computer to decipher.

But what's so interesting about reCAPTCHA is that is has two great features. One is that you can choose to have something spoken to you instead of trying to decipher the words. This is good for accessibility by the blind and visually challenged. The other is that the squiggled words are actually words scanned out of old books that are trying to be digitized, and for every time that someone answers a challenge, the result is sent back to Carnegie Mellon University's book digitization project to help with the process. You can read more about it at the reCAPTCHA website.

We're only going to require this for comments posted by people who aren't registered for our site, so to avoid the annoyance, just Create an account for our site and you'll only need to do it once.



We abandoned reCAPTCHA

Andrew Wheeland's picture

The bottom line is that the words in reCAPTCHA were too often too hard to read and the interface for entering them in seemed too out-of-place with the rest of our site design which was confusing people.

For now are using a simple "enter the code in the image" technique and we'll see how well that works out for us.

Andrew Wheeland
Director of Interactive Services