The best captcha is no captcha

modern-captcha.jpgNicolas Koenig recently posted ModernCaptcha, a comment spam protection technology inspired by Seth Godin that is far easier to use than most captchas.

On the one hand, this is great because captchas suck. Hard. They’re difficult to read, annoying, slow down the user experience, and make people feel stupid when they can’t get them right.

In Koenig’s implementation, all you have to do is match a well-known logo to a web address. Simple – right? Probably – if you’re a reasonably savvy web user. Maybe not, however, if you’re not an English speaker or familiar with major tech companies.

But the biggest issue I have with any form of captcha is that they slow down the read-write web. They’re web 2.0 friction. And there’s a better way.

Crowdsource your comment spam problem
Akismet is a simple idea implemented amazingly well: use collective intelligence from all over the web to identify comment spam on blogs and other social spaces online.

It works amazingly well – capturing well over 99% of the comment spam on this blog. That’s about 30,000 comment spams in the past year or so.

What this allows you to do is outsource your comment-spam-control problem. Or, to be even more buzzword-compliant, crowd-source it.

The best captcha is no captcha at all.

[tags] captcha, seth godin, Nicolas Koenig, modern captcha, comment spam, john koetsier [/tags]

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Isn’t requiring your email address also ‘friction’? It’s a good conversation. I think ModernCaptcha will be in trouble from brand/logo attorneys, but I like the implementation. While Akismet works 99% of the time, a challenge question on my Contact page has worked 100% of the time.

    As well, Akismet attempts are still clogging up my database. I need to clean them out every once in a while. My site actually slowed down once because of the volume of writes going on due to comment spam.


  • Interesting points! Yes, requiring an email address is friction.

    However, I think it’s defensible friction in that to have a conversation, it helps to know who you’re dealing with. It also aids in general levels of civility. So (assuming, of course, someone uses their real name/address) you have a much richer conversation.