August 2020 has arrived! And, oh boy, could this website be in a better state. But apart from my lack of writing content for it, there’s a bigger issue.
See, almost every page on this website has a comment field. Guess what spambots like to do to comment fields? They fill them up with dodgy links! This is a problem for two reasons:
- Sifting through hundreds of spam comments when checking for what to approve and reply to is unwieldy.
- It is costing me money!!
Whoa, so how’s it costing me money? Well, I have it set up so people can receive an email notification when their comment is replied to, and this in itself triggers a confirmation email. These spambots, playing it safe, submit an email address and stay opted-in to email notifications.
The end result of this is that during the month of July, I was billed $1.39 for sending 1,735 emails. I’d wager about 1% of these were sent to real people.
Since I’m in the UK, this might be quite a bit higher due to silly foreign exchange fees, but I can’t check because apparently being able to check your bank statements online isn’t important. Good thing it’s probably about time for another paper statement to arrive. They want people to move away from paper statements, yet their online systems are still botched.
Okay, so I’m getting a bit sidetracked. Point is, the sheer amount of spam comments submitted on this website were too much, in more ways than one. So I added a CAPTCHA to the comments submission, specifically Google reCAPTCHA v2 — “I’m not a robot”.
I’m aware that there are numerous downsides to Google reCAPTCHA:
- Added page weight.
- Users flagged by Google (such as Tor users) may have difficulty completing the CAPTCHA.
- Users for which Google services are blocked (such as those in China) will be unable to view the CAPTCHA.
- We’re training Google’s computers to recognise pedestrian crossings and if we pick the wrong answer a Google self-driving car might run someone over.
If you’re having difficulty with these CAPTCHAs, you can use the Buster browser extension. Yeah, computers can defeat the CAPTCHAs. It’s dumb. But fortunately most spambots still give up at the sight of them. Or if you can’t access the CAPTCHAs at all, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hopefully you can understand why I took the easy route and just stuck a CAPTCHA up, even if it’s a pain to deal with when just trying to leave a comment. It sucks that people trying desperately to sell drugs, mainly, ruin a CAPTCHA-free zone for everyone.