The best part of blogging is getting comments. The worst part of blogging is getting comment… spam. Every escribitionist knows the crestfallen sensation of receiving a delicious morsel of feedback that turns out to be a crude pitch for pills, porn, or trading secrets the fat cats on Wall Street don’t want you to know.
A massive amount is effort is expended in the blogosphere to fight comment spam. WordPress, which runs Hawaii Blog, has several fantastic tools available. To keep this site especially neat and tidy, I also briefly required you to register for an account before being able to post a comment. Sure, spammers were less likely to jump through that hoop… but I imagine many fine, upstanding netizens were put off by it as well.
Now, CAPTCHA systems are everywhere. The acronym stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart,” and the test is administered in the form of distorted, fragmented, or blurry letters, numbers, or words that you have to decipher and type in before you’re allowed to do something. You hit CAPTCHAs when singing up for a social network, logging into bank accounts, and yes, posting comments to message boards and blogs.
This little test, administered to thousands of people every single day, adds up to over 100,000 hours of time and effort. Why not put all that work to good use? The great folks at reCAPTCHA have found a way to combine those ubiquitous “type the letters in the image” spam blockers with the greater, noble need to make volumes of untapped information available to the masses. As they explain on their site:
To archive human knowledge and to make information more accessible to the world, multiple projects are currently digitizing physical books that were written before the computer age… reCAPTCHA improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher.
So, I’ve turned off registrations and turned on reCAPTCHA. You can remain anonymous if you want, but now if you want to have a say on Hawaii Blog, you’ve gotta do at least one good deed first.