Did you know that approximately 80 to 90% of email received every day day in and day out by our mail server is spam – unsolicited, bulk email?
Spam-bots are automated systems that surf the Internet looking for ways to post spam messages to forums, blogs, wikis, guest books or any of a wide variety of web forms. Worse still, spammers are now paying people to post their spam.
We all know spammers change their methods frequently. But there are also some broader trends that slowly emerge over long periods. The economics of spam has changed considerably since Akismet first started back in 2005, and that has led to some new trends and changes in spam patterns recently. Here’s a quick summary of some of the most important changes in web spam we’ve seen over the last year. — State of Web Spam blog.akismet.com/
John Suler, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, Science and Technology Center, Rider University: A strong relationship exists between one’s presence on the web and the amount of spam received. The more places in cyberspace that your e-mail address is listed, the more likely the spammers will find it and add it to their mailing lists. Paradoxically, then, the more available your address, the less likely people will be able to clearly contact you through the noise created by the spam you receive. Currently, I receive up to 100 spam emails a day.
— The Psychology of Coping with Spam
CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart and is a challenge-response test that was developed to fight ‘spam-bots’. Captchas are security tools for preventing spam postings and log-ins. You have experienced them as images of random letters and numbers that some sites require you to decipher in order to submit a comment or log in to a resource. The most common type of Captcha requires that the user type letters or digits from a distorted image that appears on the screen.
Software can be designed so both the able and disabled users can use any site with ease. Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. Web accessibility also benefits older people, with changing abilities due to aging.
Millions of people have disabilities that affect their use of the Web. Currently most Web sites and Web software have accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for many people with disabilities to use the Web. As more accessible Web sites and software become available, people with disabilities are able to use and contribute to the Web more effectively.
This is the case against using Captcha.
1. Captchas are an annoying inconvenience to legitimate commenters who do not like being delayed by having to type in Captchas codes or having to type in numerical solutions to arithmetic questions. (Arithmetic questions are a barrier to people who have learning difficulties or cognitive disabilities.)
2. Captchas render content inaccessible to blind users or anyone who uses a screen reader system. If you’re a US company, this is potentially an AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) violation.
3. Many Captcha codes cannot be read by people who are visually challenged and those with dyslexia also have trouble reading them.
4. The use of Captchas is NOT a barrier to unethical humans, who are paid to spam. To get around Captchas and math comments, spammers are now paying people to make comments for them ie. to post their spam.
5. A surprising amount of Captcha software is buggy. Many Captchas do not work as expected and the bloggers who have buggy Captchas on their sites are not aware of it.
7. Captchas are hackable.
8. No anti-spam solution can ever be 100% effective or foolproof. Captchas do provide a primary level of defense against spambots, but some of the more sophisticated bots are now able to read the more simple Captchas, and they are getting better all the time.
IMO CAPTCHAs are a barrier to commenting and Akismet and Defensio are better anti-spam choices. What’s your opinion?
Do you use CAPTCHA on your blog?
What’s your CAPTCHA user experience?
Related posts found in this blog:
Encouraging blog readers to comment
Can I turn off Aksimet, or view the spam it blocks?
How to deal with spam effectively