One of the downsides of managing a blog is having to fight comment spam. The first defence against spam is moderating comments — actually approving a commenter, the first time he or she adds to the blog post. This means that readers of the blog don’t see links to undesireable sites.
Automation helps sort out most comment spam. Akismet has become a standard spam detector for WordPress, and I’ve used it since day one. I’ve also now installed Bad Behavior and Referrer Bouncer, but they don’t really reduce the workload.
I’ve resisted using CAPTCHA — “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” — because I’ve been trying to ensure that my blog continues to be readable by the visually impaired.
I’ve just implemented the reCAPTCHA plugin for WordPress on my blogs. There are multiple reasons for this:
- This plugin provides the option for audio validation, i.e. instead of having to read a graphical image, a visually impaired person can have the letters read out to him or her.
- Having a commenter type in two words have the productive side benefit of digitizing books on the Internet Archive. In May, the book was Psychology, by philosopher John Dewey.
- The plugin is free, and is a project of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Ben Maurer is an undergrad student there.
I’m looking forward to having a reduced number of comment spam attempts to read.