Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing: Captcha Gone Crazy!

Is it me, or has Captcha gotten a bit … out of hand lately?
Captcha, in case you’re not familiar with it, is the verification code you have to enter in order to comment on some blogs, or register for certain websites. I always assumed it was just a jazzy way of saying ‘capture’, but it’s an acronym that means “Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart.” Seriously.
Anyway, I started keeping a list back in May of 2012, a list of the strange word combinations I was encountering while trying to leave my pearls of wisdom around the blogosphere. Something struck me about those twisty little things. Mostly, they made me laugh. They also made me think, “I can use this!” For what, I didn’t know, but I was compelled to copy them down, certain that I could use them in some bizarre work of fiction yet to be thought of.
sporse nizoe  
sistf manymob   
chicero ptiera
See what I mean? Catchy, aren’t they? That last one sounds like a South American nightclub singer.
At first, they were a source of amusement and mild annoyance, but somewhere along the line, they made them twistier, harder to read. That might have actually been what prompted me to start keeping the list in the first place. Some blogs, it seemed were tougher to crack into than others, and I was curious. Still, they were a mere annoyance, a brief speed bump on the road to commentary. But then they started to change. They started to add numbers.
smsvI 45
spitaggl 13
byaques 14
It was an interesting new wrinkle. And it was also the point where it started to become a pain in the butt. I usually had no trouble with mere letters. But the numbers were frequently hard to read. They were blurry. They looked like grainy photographs of house numbers taken with a cheap camera by a sleep-deprived PI staking out a wayward spouse.  I started guessing, and some of the guesses were so blind I wondered if coming close is good enough – that or I’m getting extremely lucky. I also started getting them wrong with greater frequency, but, fortunately (or unfortunately, if you’ve been on the receiving end of many of my comments, hah hah) not often enough to make me not leave a comment.
I stopped keeping track of the Captcha codes, but I’ve started up again, because they just seem to be going crazy lately.
shonees 12636
orldVeq 4519
8931 myUSBus
I suppose it’s just a way of trying to keep ahead of the bots.
I remember considering the comment options when I started this blog. Verification on, or off? Comment moderation: yay or nay? I’m pretty sure I started with verification on, because I’m pretty sure someone told me not to bother, that it was an impediment to conversation, and people wouldn’t bother if they had to wade through the trouble of captcha. Comments are important. I want to hear what you have to say. In hindsight, it was a silly decision to use it for me, especially because I receive every comment as an e-mail, and I have the luxury of being able to act quickly, should anything spammy or objectionable come in. Maybe if I were receiving hundreds (or even scores or dozens) of comments per post or had thousands of visitors per day, it would make sense, or if I found myself having to clean up loads of obvious spamments each  day. As it stands now, it doesn’t make sense for me to keep that barrier up. (On the other hand, I must have crossed some  threshold; twice in the last month I’ve received offers of free quality eye-wear should I promote some company on this blog – big time, baby!)
Anyway, I think I’ll stop keeping track of Captcha codes for a while. At least until they change things up and make it interesting again. Viva, Chicero Ptiera!

18 Responses

  1. Just say no to Captcha!! Really, in two years of blogging I've had maybe three incidents of spam getting on the blog. It's really easy to hit delete on those, so, yeah, ditch the captcha.

    Although…..some of those words do make good fantasy story character names. 🙂

  2. No, it's not you. It's definitely out of control. It's to the point now that ONLY a robot (or covert government agency spy software) can decipher them.

    Oddly enough, SPAM comments on my blog have exploded over the past month, but Blogger catches almost every single one. Whatever algorithm they use is impressive, maybe even scary if pondering on it too long.

  3. Oh those codes drive me nuts! I don't even know if I have them on my blog or not… do I?

    What I hate most is when, on the odd occasion, I actually CAN read what the number and letter combination says… but it still tells me that I'm wrong. And the fuzzy, blurry numbers are insane! Why?!

  4. I think, if you're the sort who gets TONS of comments, it can be helpful, rather than have to wade through your inbox and verify/approve everything yourself. For people like me, it's certainly not needed.

    Chicero Ptiera is going to be my pen name, I think…..

  5. Yes, you do! It's probably purely random, but your blog seems to have a lot of the four or five number, five or six letter combos. Janet Reid's blog seems to consistently have fewer numbers, but they're harder to read. Or maybe I'm just seeing patterns because I want to.

  6. I get spam several times a month (without CAPTCHA), but you know what? Google still stops it. I only get the email notification; it doesn't show up on the blog.

    So, no crazy guessing games for me! 🙂

  7. The house numbers are the worst! It's just a blob usually.

    I got the eyewear email too! Sheesh, of course I'd love to advertise your dodgy wares on my blog, why wouldn't I?

    I've also seen a lot of spam, but only in my email. Blogger catches almost all of it, so no captcha necessary!

  8. I don't get much spam at all. I used to get it while I had anonymous comments turned on but I turned it off for a while and the spammers disappeared. However, it's worth checking if blogger has sneakily activated word verification. That happened to me once and when I discovered it, I was not a happy blogger 😉

  9. I didn't realize Captcha stood for something – that's hilarious! 🙂
    I despise the Captcha phrases and agree they've gotten nuts. Sometimes I have to try 4 times before I get in!

  10. I noticed the recent changes in CAPTCHA, too. I don't mind it in theory, but when it keeps giving me pixelated images with numbers after I refresh, I sometimes give up.

  11. You are certainly right, CAPTCHA is going mental these days. They are almost unreadable a lot of the time and like "the golden eagle" I am also having the blurrry numbers problem. I have started using a CAPTCHA bypass browser extension program called RUMOLA to read them and fill them in for me. Seems to work a treat if anyone is super frustrated with CAPTCHA.

  12. Thanks for stopping in, Alicia. Now I'm dying to know what 'RUMOLA' stands for! I just eyeballed their site, just to see what this was all about, and I found this: "Just an instant and your captcha will appear on the other end of our planet where our workers are always ready to enter your captcha." That brings up images of little kids squinting at captcha codes in some sweatshop somewhere, earning pennies per day!

    Of course, it will only be a matter of time before Captcha makes us go through more gymnastics to beat RUMOLA.

  13. Best captcha I ever got: wrecht oligarch. It made me think of a wretched oligarch. It really got me thinking. Those thoughts never went anywhere, but they were fun.

  14. The one good thing about CAPTCHA is the potential fun of using the words in a sentence/story. "After his ouster, Chicero Ptiera was a wrecht oligarch." Wrecked or wretched, either works.

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