Comment Spam Resumes

Have spammers figured out how to pick reCAPTCHA‘s lock? All of a sudden I am getting hundreds of comment spam blocked by Akismet. When I added reCAPTCHA, it dropped to a few a month. Now 409 in a week.

Guess this is why layers of security are good.

UPDATE: Scanned through for false positives. The first word of many of them were Xanth characters: Bink, Chameleon, Dolph, Iris, Smash, Goldy, Grundy, Cherie, Chester, Roogna, Imbri.

reCAPTCHA and Chrome

Was using this RSVP form with Google Chrome and found the reCAPTCHA was telling me I repeatedly failed the Turing test. After the sixth time, I decided it might be my browser, so I tried it in Firefox which worked fine.

Curious, I went looking for a possible problem between reCAPTCHA and Chrome. According to a post there, the Transitional XHTML DOCTYPE is the cause. Changing that DOCTYPE to Strict ought to fix the issue. Given the audience, I doubt there is anyone else using Chrome to fill it. So fixing it probably isn’t worth it to them.

Interesting. I’ll have to look into issues with Chrome and the XHTML Transitional DOCTYPE.

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Lost in Communication

Would you believe United States employees cost their employers $650 billion in productivity costs in the seconds it takes for them to return attention back to the task at hand? The time spans lost are the same amount of time required to interpret a CAPTCHA. E-mail, instant messaging, Twitter, etc. are all distractions from getting the work done. Those who choose to disconnect or limit the distractions improve their productivity. At least that is what the technology corporations studying the problem have decided. I have my doubts. This sounds like a restating of “all employees with access to the Internet just surf all day and get nothing done.”

What I like about instant messengers is they are more efficient than email but cheaper than a long distance phone call. By marking availability status, employees alert others not to contact them. Employees also may ignore messages until they have are done concentrating on the task at hand. Another article, also from the New York Times, supports this view employees using instant messengers effectively are not distracting.

Looking at an alert just to decide whether to respond would “waste time.” Then again, so would talking about a cool movie, the family, or any of the standard means of bonding which establish trust between individuals (without which far more time would be wasted in mistrust).

Guess there will be more research to debate what is really the problem.
🙂

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Turing Digitalization

Some 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved daily according to Luis von Ahn (on Wired Science on PBS). His technology project reCAPTHCA will use unknown words in these challenges for solving the unknown words in OCR digitalizing books to solve these words in an a quasi-automated sort of way.

I wonder though. Even if reCAPTCHA a) becomes the default at major sites like Yahoo or Google and b) is solved 100% right ever time, then how many books would be completed per day? Certainly no one really comments on this blog, so its almost why bother. (hint, hint)

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UPDATE: Trying to clarify. reCAPTCHA integrates two technologies.

Optical Character Recognition always has questionable results. The worse the quality of the text (age or damage), the less capable the software. It takes a human on average about 10 seconds to recognize and provide the correct spelling of a piece of unknown text.

CAPTCHAs are the little pictures used to verify you are a human and not a spammer at various web sites. The problem is coming up with good digital letters OCR software cannot easily recognize.

Luis’ reCAPTCHA idea is if OCR software has trouble with a piece of text from these scanned books, then they have would make excellent candidates for objects to confuse the spammer bots trying to defeat CAPTCHAs. At the same time, humans validate the correctness of the unknown words where the OCR was confused.

Better?