Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I've been very silent as a blogger recently. It's not that I have run out of things to say. I feel I have much to say on OPB (other peoples' blogs). It's just that I have been majorly put-off recently.

I've been blogging on assorted sites for almost a decade, ever since Bush stampeded the USA into Iraq. So this has been an old gripe for me, about which I have occasionally blogged. But recently my old nemesis, spam phobia, is back in my face. This phobia expresses itself in the form of word-verification and comment moderation.

What has caused this to happen? One guess is that there are a lot of new people doing blogs, and they just think this is the way to protect their sites as well as their own sense of propriety. Maybe a newly-released Google template offers word verification and comment moderation as a default. I think maybe the second is true for the sites I visit.

My vast experience in blogging is that both features are deterrents to the enjoyment of spontaneous, lively and creative discussions.

When I mention word verification, everyone knows what I'm talking about. Sometimes it's called "Captcha". Blogger calls it "automatic spam detection for comments" requiring "people leaving comments on your blog to complete a word verification step".

I am so fed up with this I could just puke. I wish I throw brown ink on every blog which obligates me to decipher two words of randomly spaced consonants and vowels printed in messy, illegible and irregular fonts and transcribe them into plain arial print. My eyes are bad enough with one cup of coffee in the wee hours without being subjected to this unnecessary stress test. Add in my aged fingers and age-appropriate impatience. All conspire to make any first draft of mine appear to have been written in shorthand. Sometimes I leave entire syllables, even words, missing. Thus handicapped, whenever I manage to complete an intelligible comment, I then have to contend with a Captcha drill? Come on, already!

Gripe number two is comment moderation: after I get a blog to accept my comment along with my verified Captcha, it's published. Except that I can't see it because it's not going to be published until the blogmeister approves it.

My complaint against this prior restraint of expression is that it suppresses the spontaneity of the conversation: no one can read my comment until the blog host reads and publishes it. In the meantime, who knows how many other soulful comments are held captive in the Internet's version of purgatory along with mine? This process also means that when comments are eventually posted, they cannot appear in any logical or meaningful context, one with another, because each was composed oblivious to the others. Some moderators will even publish them in inverse chronological order! WTF is the point? I want to ask ...

Both of these anti-span devices are patently unnecessary. In the first place, Blogger employs a very thorough behind-the-scenes spam filter. Very little has gotten through into my various unprotected blog sites in the last decade.

Whenever objectionable material appears, and on my political blogs it occasionally has, it's a snap to remedy. You can delete it without a trace, or you can vindictively leave a trace with the author's blogging user name attached. In particular cases where someone has written a page of particularly abusive stuff, I have relished in leaving just his name there so he gets the message that he's putting out much more energy and time trying to be abusive than I am deleting him.

There may be a role for comment moderation as pertains to dated posts where comments are no longer current. And it is usually here that my blogs have encountered spam. But in this instance, Google's Blogger's comment moderation feature can be tweaked to cover only comments that are submitted two or more weeks or any other specified time period after the initial posting of a column.

Another caveat I'll entertain are special categories of blogs which might attract Rush Limbaugh think-a-like misogynists. I give them a pass.

For the rest of you spam phobic offenders, here are your directions for liberating your blogs from the tentacles of paranoia.

My time is limited. And so is my patience. I'm mad as hell & I'm not going to take it any more.


  1. Well, you didn't mention that your hand-writing has gone to hell!

  2. Hear hear. I have been experimenting without having a captcha on my blog for the past few weeks and have discovered you are right. Google traps the vast majority of spam comments anyway and routes them to my spam folder. One or two spam comments have got through but they have been easy to spot and delete.

    I must admit I have comment moderation turned on for all my old posts (older than 10 days) because I suspect that those 2000+ old posts might attract spammers and hardly any real people ever want to comment on them anyway.

    We should start a campaign to persuade all our fellow sailing bloggers to dump the captchas. Life is so much easier without them.

  3. And seriously, your handwriting has gone to hell. This squiggly script in turquoise on blue is almost as hard to read as the captchas. Some of us have old eyes. Give us a break!

  4. Actually the green comments are worse than the posts for my old eyes.

  5. Isn't this great? No way I would have left 4 comments if you had word verification turned on!

  6. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

  7. OK, This is my day to get even.

  8. Doc: I attempted to follow the instructions as per the link provided but even though I'm (I think) using the old blogger interface, I see no asterisk on the right side of the dash board and can't find the box to disable CAPTCHA. Help, please!

    George A.

  9. I agree it is annoying. I am new to blogging and have seen above that TIllerman has tried turning it off without big problems. I may turn it off as he does for the older posts. But, have you seen this TED video by one of the inventors of Captcha who has used the annoying efforts to actually help a collaborative effort in digitizing books?