Empathic Captcha Likely as Useless as Regular Ones

Kimber Streams at The Verge has written about, New Captcha system uses empathy to distinguish humans from bots. Instead of a highly distorted set of letters to be parroted back, this captcha asks a question like this:

<%image(20121007-empathycaptcha.jpg|427|251|Empathy Captcha)%>

This is a nice idea. Unfortunately, what I’ve found with any captcha system is that they do no good. The only spam that gets through my automated systems is that which is done by hand. And there is a lot of that!

My understanding is that people get paid ridiculously small amounts of money to spam me—perhaps a penny per spam or less. But no spam gets through. Why do they continue? Even at this cost, it does no good. Shouldn’t they move on to other more fruitful sites?

It isn’t hard to spot spam. Most of it has a user name that is obvious: “adult film” or “liquid diet for weight loss” or “Free Games Directory.” And then, the spam comments are all the same 10 or so canned bits. One of my favorites is this, “hello there and thanks for your info ?” Note the space before the question mark? It is always there.

The one good thing about using a captcha is that it would slow the spammers down a bit. Of course, it also slows down users. I’ll have to think about it.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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