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A screenshot of our new Recaptcha spam catcher, now installed on the blog!

When the blog got its redesign in June 2010, it included a captcha, or a short challenge commenters would answer to prove they were submitting a real comment, not spam.

However, it was recently brought to my attention that the captcha didn’t provide an audio option for those with visual impairments! So we’ve switched to a new captcha plugin called Recaptcha, which provides an audio option. At the same time, the words you decipher to pass the new Recaptcha test are actually words from old books, newspapers, and radio shows that are being digitized! So you’re killing spam AND helping digitize books and radio. Double win.

Anyway, amid all this excitement, if you find you are encountering problems with the new Recaptcha plugin, please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail or leave a comment here if possible. If we need to roll back to the old captcha standard or try a different one because this is not working, we will!


  • By Cliff, November 30, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

    I remember some of the other posters saying that ReCaptcha would be a good idea. Good to see it implemented!

    The only issue might be on certain mobile devices. I haven’t yet encountered any problems, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

  • By Jacob, November 30, 2010 @ 8:55 pm


  • By Sally, November 30, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

    That’s a really interesting fact (I love random facts!) about the captcha. And well done on implementing the audio version.

  • By zack, December 1, 2010 @ 8:33 am

    The recaptcha sounds like a great idea, but I’m having hard time to listen to listen to the actual words. All hear I hear are some inaudible random conversations. And btw, was that voice at the beginning of the audio actually yours Jhen?

  • By Jun, December 1, 2010 @ 8:38 am

    It’s really cool and helps avoid spam in our blog.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, December 1, 2010 @ 8:53 am

    zack: No, it’s all garbled nonsense sounds. I think it’s to prevent smart audio programs from defeating the captcha. I also had a couple of problems figuring out the audio sounds too, but I’m not really the target audience, and Recaptcha seems to be a really popular captcha option around the web! So I figure it must be working for lots of people, and if I hear different here from folks who are relying on the audio version, then we’ll find another one that works better.

  • By Paul C, Vancouver, December 1, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

    Even though to to most of us we might find the audio version just a mess of words and find it hard to understand. The people who do use it are probably used to it.

    It would be like asking a person who can see to read brail.

  • By zack, December 1, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

    I get it! It’s like cracking a secret code! cool!!

  • By ;-), December 2, 2010 @ 1:36 am

    I didn’t like the old version because it’s too easy…. I find this is much harder.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, December 2, 2010 @ 11:35 am

    ;-): Glad I could up the challenge for you then :)

  • By Kenneth, December 5, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

    Testing audio. It’s nice. way to go!

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