An great alternative to Captcha’s for WordPress

Filed as Guides on January 30, 2006 11:11 pm

by Duncan

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I’ve had to stop using WP-HashCash as the anti-spam filtering feature here at The Blog Herald (due to server issues and the load it was taking up) so I went on a hunt to find a new comment moderation feature, and after 3 days of having it in use (and only getting 1 piece of comment spam, that’s right: 1 entire piece!!!) I’m going to link to it: WP-Gatekeeper.

Regular readers would know that I don’t ever support the use of Captcha’s, because Captcha’s prevent people with visual impairments from posting comments, and I know there are a few regular readers out there who do have these disabilities. In fact, if you do use a Captcha’s on your blog, you are essentially putting up a big sign saying “F. U” to anyone who wants to post a comment to your blog who needs to use a third party reader program or similar due to their disabilities.

WP-Gatekeeper is similar to a captcha however it doesn’t use those crazy letter/ number image combinations, it uses a set of customizable challenges to readers when they go to make a comment, for example: how do you spell blue?. and I believe, because of the way it’s formatted that it is friendly to readers with visual impairments.

If you are a regular commenter at The Blog Herald you’ll be seeing these challenges when you go to comment. So far, so good on the spam front (touch wood) and if you’re using WordPress it’s definitely worth a look.

And if you need more information on making sure your blog is friendly for the visually impaired, drop on over to my friends at the American Foundation for the Blind and send them an email, I’m sure they’d be happy to help.

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  1. By Bob Morris posted on January 31, 2006 at 12:20 am
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    Askimet, also by WordPress, works great against comment spam. Virtually 100% accurate.

    http://askimet.com

  2. By Duncan Riley posted on January 31, 2006 at 12:24 am
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    Unfortunately Bob in my situation I’d have to pay for it.

  3. By Eric Meyer posted on January 31, 2006 at 1:14 am
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    Hey, Duncan, it was really great to read that you like WP-Gatekeeper! It’s sort of ironic that I don’t use it any more, preferring Akismet (which is free in my case), but I’m glad to be able to keep it available for others to use.

    I should point out that the actual URL is http://www.meyerweb.com/eric/tools/wordpress/wp-gatekeeper.html — once you’ve corrected the link, feel free to edit this bit our of my comment.

  4. By Tina E posted on January 31, 2006 at 4:02 am
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    Thank you so much for mentioning alternatives that can be used as an alternate to CAPTCHA. I happen to be one of these blind web surfers, and I find CAPTCHA to be a growing impediment to my ability to use various services on the web. A good friend of mine cannot even post to his own blog over on Blogger, since to prove he isn’t spam, he’d need to get around the graphical verification. He can’t even use the feature to have the spam tag removed, since that also requires input of text from a CAPTCHA graphic. Can you even believe that? He wrote Google’s customer support this morning, and still, as if this very writing, has heard NOTHING from them.

    Realize that these access issues will become an ever-more-important area of concern, as a certain number of senior citizens will end up with decreased vision due to various conditions like Macular Degeneration, and the senior population is growing each year. Those who are technologically savvy will wish to remain that way. Then, it won’t be only those of us who are blind or have had visual impairments all of our lives, who will be locked out of a increasing number of websites who have implemented CAPTCHA with no reasonable alternative.

    Thank you again for your support of equitable access for all of us, not only sighted humans who can pass the CAPTCHA test.

  5. By Tina E posted on January 31, 2006 at 4:09 am
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    P.S., your challenge questions work great! What a refreshingly easy means by which I’m granted the opportunity to post comments to your blog!

    A big huge THANK YOU again!

  6. By Gordon posted on January 31, 2006 at 6:28 am
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    I’ve seen a combination of this idea, where you randomly generate a number each time the comment page loads, then the user is prompted to enter the number.. all done in text on the screen so ok for the visually impaired.

    Alas this issue, I feel, falls into the growing category of ‘nice to haves’. What percentage of visitors to your site fall into this category? Is it more or less than those that use a 640×480 resolution? What’s the tipping point that makes you consider a category as worthy of action? These are all the questions that web designers need to answer and, alas, sometimes the answer isn’t ideal.

    BTW, Tina, I’d give Google Support a little more than a few hours to respond. I hear their site is quite busy these days… LOL

  7. By Sale posted on January 31, 2006 at 9:40 am
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    Thank you for mentioning alternate to CAPTCHA!

  8. By Darrell Shandrow posted on January 31, 2006 at 9:48 pm
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    Gordon,

    Despite my blindness, I am a human, a real person. Visual verification tests for the presence of a real human being rather than a computer program. If a reasonable accomodation is not made so that it is accessible, then it not only locks me out of participation but serves to deny my very personhood. This is, of course, offensive to say the least. Gordon, my friend, close your eyes for just a moment and tell us all how you would feel if you were needlessly excluded, locked out and told by some computer program that you weren’t, after all, a real person!

    The very concept that it might be acceptable to purposely exclude me based on my blindness through one of these inaccessible CAPTCHA devices is absolutely repugnant!

  9. By Darrell Shandrow posted on January 31, 2006 at 9:51 pm
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    Hi All,

    I am asking all of you to please ask Google to fix their inaccessible CAPTCHA by visiting http://www.blindwebaccess.com and signing the Google Word Verification Accessibility Petition today! I did regain access to the ability to post to my own blog 25 hours after being censored due to this inaccessible word verification. Thanks for covering this absolutely critical topic!

  10. By Eddie Goldman posted on February 1, 2006 at 1:32 am
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    Thanks again to everyone for raising this issue. CAPTCHA’s are evil, period. I have poor vision which is worsening with age. I’m a baby boomer who has worked online for the past ten years, and has recently been blogging regularly.

    I can often still make out CAPTCHA’s, but it is getting harder and harder, especially the ones used by Yahoo where there is inadequate contrast and the characters are almost indecipherable. They make me use these when sending mail from one of my accounts to another one!

    So far Blogger hasn’t dogged me with this, but from what I read that day may be coming.

    So we all have to speak loudly against what is a form of discrimination, perhaps even a violation of U.S. law and the Americans With Disabilities Act. As also mentioned, there are plenty of alternatives to CAPTCHA’s, so an easy solution which is not discriminatory can be found. Google should act before this affects their high stock price.