Comments: Confusing But Tiny Changes

By Alec Meer on December 21st, 2009 at 5:21 pm.

You may have noticed we’ve introduced a CAPTCHA check into our comments. You may hate it. WELL IT HATES YOU TOO. But seriously – it’s only four characters, and it’s not one of those bastard illegible ones. It is indeed necessary, because we’ve been drawing in a frightening amount of spam lately – basically, it’s either this or you spend your time here reading about how to get herbal viagra and Ugg boots on the cheap. Deleting that stuff has become beyond tiresome.

Also! You can avoid the Captcha by registering. We have no particular reason for wanting you to do this, but it does make life easier for you. As does the new login button at the toppermost right of RPS…

It’s free, we won’t send you any messages or sell your email address to organ farmers, and it only takes a minute. It also gets you a forum login, and should allow you to edit your comments too (we’re trying to fix that properly, but there’s some enormous incomatibility between the editing plugin and our template). And, of course, you’ll be an inspecific part of the big, happy RPS family.

.

89 Comments »

  1. Clovis says:

    Teacher says, every time a CAPTCHA matches an angel gets his wings.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I’m glad the captcha is both legible and avoidable, I hate the 17 letter captchas that swirl around the box like a puff of smoke, it actually causes a rage that burns deep within.

    • Muzman says:

      Jeremy is on the money.
      Incidentally, why do they have those weird convoluted captcha images in some systems? Are there spam bots with rudimentry image reading capabilities or something?

    • jsutcliffe says:

      It’s actually relatively simple to code something that’ll read text from an image, which is why some places have those horrible complicated ones that take a few attempts to get right (Steam). I prefer alternative methods, for example an image recognition thing that might show people four images and ask them to click on the one that’s a photo of a horse — dead simple for a human, but hard for a program (though this has accessibility problems, e.g. someone with impaired sight might not be able to tell the difference, or see the images at all).

      Ultimately, I think that CAPTCHAs are bad and should never be used, as they’re harmful to user experience. The trouble is that it’s often easier or cheaper to just drop in a CAPTCHA system than to code effective spam detection.

    • Jeremy says:

      I will say this though, that while CAPTCHA is an annoyance, it’s less harmful to the user experience than:

      “Dude this game is totally sweet, hey check out hot pix of Tina at [naughties].”

      Or any other version of said advert.

    • Eplekongen says:

      Jeremy: Link?

    • Muzman says:

      The AIs are taking over, but at least they brought cheap xanax.

  3. fishmitten says:

    Where the hell am I supposed to get my herbal viagra and Ugg boots on the cheap now?

    • Premium User Badge

      Christian says:

      Also, I’ll never even find out what Ugg boots actually are. Do I want to even know?

    • sinister agent says:

      Christian – I think they’re those hilariously stupid looking furry boots that gullible people started wanting to have rather than a lot of money a year or two ago. You know, the ones that look idiotic with anything other than arctic survival gear. Whichever misogynist managed to convince the right people those look good is probably rolling around in cocaine and high-class rent boys even as we speak.

  4. jsutcliffe says:

    Fishmitten said:
    Where the hell am I supposed to get my herbal viagra and Ugg boots on the cheap now?

    Give all present for Xmas
    Have erectile dysfunction? Look nowhere else! Cheapest online! Buy Viagra+Cialis and get discount 20%! We guarantee top 100% quality!
    For happy holiday

    • mootpoint says:

      Pure link brilliance!

      …. Aaaand the comment I was replying to was promptly removed, presumably mistakenly identified as spam.

      • Senethro says:

        Mootpoint: Thats odd. How come your comment always displayed automagically at the bottom of the page?

        Edit: Huh, it seems to have stopped now. For a while it kept skipping past others, look at its timestamp!

        Edit2: OH GOD I’VE CAUGHT THE “SINK TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE” DISEASE! SOMEONE REPLY TO MY COMMENT AND FREE ME!

        Edit3: Crap. It hasn’t worked. Oh well, at least I’ve got company down here. We’re just canaries down the mine jonfitt.

        • jonfitt says:

          Out damned spirits!
          Edit: That’s weird. My reply to your cursed post did not appear as a reply.

        • Poindexter says:

          It’s just like quicksand!
          Edit: reply fail, that was @Senethro

        • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

          @Senethro
          Don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon. Have I ever told you about what happens when you die?

  5. Miker says:

    Huzzah!

  6. Jad says:

    So I registered. When I go to the forums, it says “Welcome Jad!”, so I know I’m logged in, but I don’t see any sign that I’m logged in when I look at the main page. (I might be missing something obvious, though). And I’m still getting the request to type in the captcha. I’m going to post this without typing it and see if it works. So, test post!

    EDIT: Ah, so it worked. Maybe you should take out the “Copy the captcha, human!” stuff if the user is logged in and doesn’t actually need to type it in?

    Also: yay editing!

    SECOND EDIT: And now the captcha stuff is gone for me. I am confused. Oh well. Yay editing again!

    THIRD EDIT: (man this is too much fun) When you edit a post, it does not return you back to the thread. You have to do that manually. Not a big deal, of course.

    • Kirrus says:

      The evil, evil caching program of doom will probably be confusing it. Feel free to ignore the captcha if you’re registered.

  7. Gunhover says:

    Either that, or you didn’t use the reply function correctly.

    KG

    • Flobulon says:

      Once you know how to do it, it’s pretty straight forward.

      KG

  8. jsutcliffe says:

    mootpoint said:
    Pure link brilliance!

    …. Aaaand the comment I was replying to was promptly removed, presumably mistakenly identified as spam.

    Yes, but it looks like it gave you a chance to test the new edit function ;)

  9. Premium User Badge

    Stense says:

    I could do with some ugg boots on the cheap. Not exactly fussed about herbal viagra though, so i guess it all balances out for the best. Yay!

    • Premium User Badge

      luminosity says:

      Completely unrelated to this topic or your post, but every time I see your avatar I can’t help but smile. Comment more!

    • Ian says:

      Stense, I think you’ve got yourself a date. ;-)

  10. Hunam says:

    Forgot I had registered on the forum, thought someone had nabbed my nick for a second!

    Anyway, woo.

  11. bookwormat says:

    I have a little captcha-christmas story to tell:

    After many years of trying to extract the message from captchas via complex pattern recognition algorithms, one smart hacker of a spammer found a simple solution to the problem: He would simply open the target page within an iframe on some porn website, so that only the captcha part of the page-to-spam was visible. Then, below the iframe/captcha, there would be an input field and some text that said: “please insert the letters on the picture to see naked ladies kissing each other”.

    And all the fine gentlemen would enter the captcha, and each time they pressed the “go to porn” link, a spam message would be sent.

    • Starky says:

      @bookworm

      That is just genius, as much as we all hate spammers, you have to respect a guy who can so beautifully and elegantly outwit a system like that.

      It’s the same sort-of-respect I have for crackers, morals aside you have to respect their sheer enginuty sometimes (and speed) at utterly shattering any form of DRM/copy protection any company can think up. Even the behemoth that is Microsoft can’t create a system is difficult for them (at least not without royally screwing a vast chunk of their legitimate customers).

      Me, I just managed to convince (by a technique known to us Brits as Blagging) work that I needed a Technet subscription, given that they don’t have anyone for IT support and I’m doing it in addition to my actual job (CAD).

  12. Meat Circus says:

    I’m selling these fine leather jackets.

    • Clovis says:

      mod parent up.

      (Also, RPS, please create a complicated modding system next.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Christian says:

      +1 rep for classic.

      (nooo. No rep-system. Please don’t. I’ve just been reading too much in the TF2-forums lately. Makes you stupid..).

      But seriously: Sort of QOTY. Ever.

      [edit]
      neat. There’s an edit-system now.

    • SuperNashwan says:

      Insult swordfighting CAPTCHA. Make it happen!

      I am rubber, you are glue.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Oh yeah?

  13. Morberis says:

    Hmm I should be registered! In fact, I try to register and it tells me I’m already registered. Hmmm where’s a login button?

  14. Kirrus says:

    I’ve always had 100% spam detection and elimination with this plugin:
    http://www.hybrid6.com/webgeek/plugins/wp-spamfree

    Maybe it’ll help?

  15. Hyoscine says:

    Guys, you seem pretty honest. Can anyone help me get my vast personal fortune out of Nigeria?

  16. Shadrach says:

    Ooh nice, I didnt know that the forum account is now linked to the news posts :) You should add a login page on the main for those registered, since the only page I found one was in the forums.

  17. PleasingFungus says:

    This is a very silly comments thread.

    EDIT: Wait, I’m still before Mootpoint? This is clearly the work of some meddling, continuum-warping creature – some kind of Time Lord!

    Also, it is very very nice to have an edit function again. How I’ve missed you, edit button.

  18. Markoff Chaney says:

    Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey…

  19. NPC says:

    Registered. Didn’t know it was possible – otherwise would do it long time ago. Thanks for the tip!

    Oh, and Captchas of a kind are today’s necessity, so it is not a problem that you add them.

  20. Taillefer says:

    “I am your mother in desperate need of funds to help free me from pirates who captured me when I went on holiday, haven’t you been wondering where I am, Kevin? Tell your two sisters I love them. And don’t forget to feed Fluffles the cat.”

    Oh, those pesky scammers…

    • sinister agent says:

      “I am the physical manifestation of the vague sense of inexplicable unease you have when you talk to your co-workers about your personal life. Send me your bank account details and I will feck off to the bahanas and have no reason to bother you ever again.”

      Every time, damn them. Every. Time.

  21. Rob says:

    Just for the record I am a human not a spam bot and I still want to know who won the Ashes 2009 compo…

  22. jonfitt says:

    Let’s see if this works.

  23. Radiant says:

    The login doesnt really work.

    oh wait it does but the captcha still shows.

  24. mandrill says:

    I have no captcha and no where to enter the various gubbins that usually goes with commenting on a blog. I presume that this means its working.

    On another note, you might want to add a login form to the front page, I had to go to the forums and back to log in.

    Edit: and I can edit too. Yay for technologicality (when it works)

  25. Senethro says:

    Jonfitt: If it progresses the same way as mine, suddenly my comment will zoom back up the page and attach itself to Mootpoint. You’ll follow as soon as someone replies to yours.

  26. illuvatar says:

    Test Test

    Give me a login option on the frontpage, you hear me!

    Seriously, time is a strange thing.

  27. Linfosoma says:

    “Test Test

    Give me a login option on the frontpage, you hear me!

    Seriously, time is a strange thing.”

    Im going to have to quote that one.

  28. Kez says:

    Meh, no biggie. I visit this place enough to merit registering and supporting.

  29. JAck says:

    Thats actually my cousin in the photo! Distantly related but still second or third cousin.

  30. dadioflex says:

    It’s a little weird. We all came to the internet to have a forum to say what we wanted to, without having to worry whether it was new, relevant or worthwhile, and it worked because it was easy.

    I think in ten years time, the barrier for entry will have been raised so high that normal (ie technologically inept) people will, once again, be excluded, because the requirements to prove you’re real, rather than spam will be (a) be demanding, and (b) actually beyond a lot of commenters’ ability to prove.

    We hear about the hypothetical future when everyone is on the internet. What about the other hypothetical future when there’s the internet, and the real internet for smart people who don’t click on the viagra links?

    • sinister agent says:

      I’m just glad I got into the habit of checking people for signs of robotism at the front door in my early teens, before I got onto the internet.

  31. Dante says:

    You know, every time I fail an illegible CAPTCHA test, a little part of me wonders if I really am a robot.

    The only shame is that you guys didn’t bring back your old ‘do maths to post’ version.

  32. Demon Beaver says:

    Checking… checking… kay, it seems to work. Great, now I feel all attached to here (not that I haven’t been lurking daily for the last year anyway, but…)

  33. Vinraith says:

    I greatly appreciate the return of the edit button. Having to back-door it though the forums was problematic, especially since it strangely deleted all the paragraph breaks.

    Being registered, I haven’t even noticed the CAPTCHA thing, but if it cuts down on the spam it’s fine by me.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Christian says:

    I’m just glad you didn’t use something like this. Although it might have added to the cultural quality of the comments..

  35. skyturnedred says:

    Heh, that picture is hilarious.

  36. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    I don’t really mind captcha’s but it seriously took me a minute to find the input box. I clicked serveral times around the place where you’re actually supposed to enter them before I got it right. I’d recommend an even more super obvious input location for people like me.

  37. Premium User Badge

    cqdemal says:

    Testing this login thing…

  38. Melf_Himself says:

    I signed up. My default password had multiple circumflexes in it. What an exciting time to be alive.

  39. theSeekerr says:

    Ugg boots are nothing sinister. They’re just a boot made from sheepskin, with the woolly bit on the inside. Popular amongst people with cold feet and Australian bogans who think they’re “practical” everyday wear.

  40. terry says:

    Tasting…

    Why is my comment here?

  41. Tom Camfield says:

    Okay, so, even though I was already registered, I needed a new password, and then the whole wordpress side of things went kaput and showed me multiple blank white pages whenever I hit login, or when I tried to make adjustments to my profile in the wordpress side of things.

    I got a new password sent, but could only change it via the forum, and it still says login at the top of /this/ page, but not in the forum, where the login button at the top of /that/ page has now disappeared.

    So, anyone with problems should probably sort things out in the forum rather than from the front page. Ahem.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      Okay, and my post appeared about three or four posts up the page, while simultaneously I got a white page and had to click back and reload the page in order to display the message I sent.

      This will be the second post from me, but it might bubble above my previous one for no reason.

      Good luck fixing all this :)

      Edit: Okay, part III, when I hit “Opinion, Away” for my first post, I got white screen of doom, but not when I posted a reply to my first post. But! when I tried to edit my second post I received another white page of doom, and I had to reload the page. But now this second time I tried to edit I got no white page of doom. Huzzah?

      Edit 2: but oh no, now I’m stuck on the edit page :( So I press save and I’m left on the edit page, which seems to be a white page with an edit box. I have to save, then press back on the browser, and then I see that my edit has appeared. Phew!

  42. Ybfelix says:

    when I click login most of times I got this

    502 Bad Gateway
    The requested URL could not be retrieved

    it took me 20 tries to actually log on.

  43. Ybfelix says:

    AND WHEN I TRY TO COMMENT, most of times I got this too

    502 Bad Gateway
    The requested URL could not be retrieved

    edit:
    also happens when try to edit. The WordPress goblins hate me

  44. vash47 says:

    Testing.

  45. Shaz says:

    Seems fine for me, though the site doesn’t seem to register my being logged in (the link remains ‘login’ at the top of the page). However I don’t see a CAPTCHA down here, so I guess I am.

  46. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    Twelve Angry Men? Good movie, good movie.

    • futage says:

      No, Mr. Smith goes to Washington. A less good movie, but still fun in its way. If you can stand James Stewart doing that whiney voiced wholesome thing.

  47. Frosty says:

    Does anyone else end up going to a blank page when they comment on anything? My comments post, but I have to go to bookmarks, RPS then the article before I can see if my comment is posted. When I click “OPINION, AWAY!” (it’s best to imagine Brian Blessed shouting it when you click it) I get redirected to a super awesome blank page.

    Weird eh?

    • Frosty says:

      Weird. It didn’t do that this time.

      But why is my comment in a bloody weird place now?!

    • Frosty says:

      Right. It does when I reply to comments.

      Sod fish.

  48. Pharago says:

    god, another account XP

  49. Premium User Badge

    skalpadda says:

    The RPS comment system is a bit like STALKER, isn’t it? A little bit broken and unpredictable but still producing a steady stream of wondrous things. I hope it never changes :)

  50. Miss Ogynist says:

    Took me a while to realize you have to click somewhere near the far left of the input box to get a typing cursor (I figured the whole blank space was inputtable and therefore clickable and wondered why clicking did nothing and why oh why can’t I prove I’m human so my delicious and meticulous comment can be shared with the world to bring peace and joy and happiness to everyone).