I took more than a month off from this blog to study (more on that in the new year). But while I was away, I was bombarded with a higher than usual amount of spam comments and spam responses to my main site’s “information request” function.
WordPress and Drupal are popular enough platforms that spammers have widely shared bots that automatically crawl into your site and issue bogus requests that end up in my e-mail box. What the incoherent and nonsense spam really is trying to accomplish is beyond me. Some is apparently for male enhancement products, but much of it is just a jumble of letters in no particular language and a series of links. I assume the links are the thing the spammers are trying to get people to follow, but… who would? No one I know.
To fight this scourge, I have installed a CAPTCHA routine on my main site. This is a pretty rudimentary version but it seems effective. My spam has dropped to zero since I installed it a few days ago. For those who haven’t heard of CAPTCHA, it is a system that displays graphical letters and numbers in random sequences that theoretically only a human can read and type back in as a response. If you match the sequence, you are granted access to whatever function is being protected (in this case the request for information is actually sent to my inbox).
As spammer technology got more sophisticated, graphical codes were not sufficient… the bots could match pixel patterns and submit the sequence automatically. The CAPTCHA routines became more advanced, and warping the images of the letters and numbers is intended to throw off the pixel-matching algorithms of the spammers. Sadly, the spammers up their game and their algorithms begin to approach the accuracy of a human eye. So the CAPTCHA warping — becoming more drastic to thwart the spam reader — starts to get so that a human has difficulty reading the code. In the example above… is that an ’8′ or a ‘B’ before the ‘A’? It is all pretty silly — the escalation of force that inevitably leads to some sort of doomsday scenario.
For now, I am simply happy that my inbox is no longer drowning in useless messages.