Solving captcha spam with more spam?

Solving blog spam with corporate spam?

So captcha’s have evolved quite a bit over the last 5-7 years. What was once a simple text type in box has become a variety of things to stop or slow down bots that can undo whatever a captcha can do.
We have seen a thousand types of squiggly lines, hard to read font and long words that we have never used stretched to the point of illegible. All of these early solutions are designed to take any pattern away from recognition bots that could decipher them.

The came the next solution for the spammers which was just an automated turk that captured the displayed captcha and sent it to a human to solve at one of many typing banks. For a penny or less per captcha humans, generally in India, would type it in and return the response to the application halfway around the world.

All of this was integrated in such a way that the program user that incorporated one of the decipher subscriptions never saw anything but a captcha get filled in like magic.

The human solution was somewhat pioneered by a friend of mine and packed as a time management system for the program user. This was seen as, and somewhat is, the ultimate solution. There really is no way to create a system to test a user for a heartbeat when the solver is just that, human.

You can’t fool a human when that is what you are testing for.

So what is left for the owners of websites and signup forms that wish to try once again in vain to stop automated solving of their captchas?

Well from where I sit it appears to be the “if you cant beat them, join em” approach.

The approach of a company like Solve Media is to create a time consuming process. That is how they sell it as a solution perhaps. The problem is that they have invented nothing new that can break the automation, they still only offer a “see it, and type it in” approach.

Their motto is “make them write it down”. Which last i checked, respecting your audience is a basic principle of advertising and branding. You lost me at “make them”. If you are not providing them with a value so the decision to “write it down” is their own, then you are not aligning the brand with a good feeling for the user.

What they have in fact done is created a platform to spam the users eyes in the name of stopping spam.

captcha ads

The definition of spam is:

“irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.”

Their new captchas require a user to click the “captcha”, which we will call an ad from here forward, watch the video ad for a product (the irrelevant messages), then at the end type in the word you see. They then use words that go with the product as the phrase.

So advertisers can hold you captive while you wait to post your comment about the blog post you innocently just read.

Let’s stop spam, by putting our spam in there.

Of course when you have a huge client list with deep pockets it is not viewed that way. An ad for your local website or affiliate product posted on craigslist is pure “spam” but an ad for name brand laundry detergent that you are forced to watch and type in their slogan just to leave a comment on your favorite mommy bloggers website, that’s marketing?

See Aaron Wall’s recent epic post regarding Google, and the parts about double standards for big brands.

An in the end it doesn’t do what legitimate service it is said to do. It does not stop banks of humans from typing in captchas.

Automated posters will not be watching ads or buying subway subs, so any spammer you are claiming to slow down is a wasted advertisement spend for the paying advertiser.
On the other side we have the honest commenters being forced to watch a video ad and then being forced to type out a brand’s slogan.

How does that person you just inconvenienced REALLY feel about your slogan now that they’ve been forced to type it.

It is a pop up ad that you cannot close, and only pops up after you have invested 5 minutes typing out a comment on your favorite blog.

About author

Todd Kron

of Sellaholics is a veteran of Analytics, PPC, Display, video, UX, conversion optimization, affiliate programs, web design and web programming since 2002. My background includes affiliate sales to 6 figures, director of a web design agency, and currently the digital manager for a leading energy company located in Huntersville, NC. From search to sale 1000 different ways is my background. Sellaholics is a Google Partner Agency.