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MIT staff blogger Dave McOwen

I don’t like SPAM! by Dave McOwen

Technology to the rescue!

I know you’re already thinking to yourself, “Where is Dave going to go with the SPAM joke?” Will he follow through on the Monty Python subject line? Will he show a can of the eponymous meat-like substance (now with Bacon!*)? Perhaps a photo of SPAM carved to resemble some bit of tech like a computer or iPod? Or will I unexpectedly shift gears into a joke about Scrapple? What devious pun lies in wait? The suspense is too much to bear.

You can relax, because today I’m taking the high road. That’s in no small part because I really dislike computer SPAM. We’ve been getting more than usual on the blogs lately, and it’s a trend that concerns me. So we’re going to try something called ReCaptcha on the blogs for a few days. For those unfamiliar with anti-SPAM technology, ReCaptcha is the box of wavy text at the bottom of the page, just above the “submit” button. The theory is that only humans (and occasionally Cylons) can decipher the distorted text back into words. SPAMbots, even the polite ones, get stuck at the door.

If ReCaptcha eliminates the SPAM and doesn’t wreak havoc with legitimate comments we’ll keep it around. If you have trouble with ReCaptcha, please let me know (obviously you might not be able to comment, but you can always email me).

* True story

22 responses to “I don’t like SPAM!”

  1. mika (14?) says:

    maybe you should also automatically delete comments obnoxiously saying “first”…

  2. Anon says:

    Epic first comment

  3. Snively says:

    “The almanacs” are my two words!

  4. Elias (14?) says:

    I’m in agreement with Mika – I think the race for ‘first’ is silly and demeaning to the bloggers. Anyway, couldn’t you have included a little pun, for the sake of those who enjoy them!?

  5. Dave says:

    I just chalk up the Firsters to yet another quirky MIT -slash- internet tradition (as Cristen once related, they are often difficult to distinguish). I caught the sneak peek of Zombieland on campus last week and learned that movies are always presented “in stereo!” We have lots of quirky traditions here, and I think the fact that some don’t seem to make logical sense is rather the point.

    But who knows — law of unintended consequences and all — perhaps we’ll start posting most interesting ReCaptchas instead.

    Oh and Snively, we give all the MITers mathematics based ReCaptchas, of course. After the trial period we move to integral equations you have to solve in order to post smile

  6. Snively says:

    @Elias (14?)
    I know I don’t speak for myself when I say that I enjoy marking “FIRST!”s as “Junk” and deleting them myself, getting to chuckle when the commenter writes another and says “Hey, what happened to my first comment?”

    Does the pleasure of confusing FIRST commenters outweigh the irritation of having to delete them? I don’t know about everybody else, but for me, yes.

  7. oasis '11 says:

    This one time the spambot went crazy over the summer and posted like, quite literally, 700 comments on one entry. I opened my Thunderbird and I’ve never seen so many unread mail before, lol.

  8. Southpaw says:

    Integral equations? Hopefully they’re simple otherwise it’ll take longer to solve than to comment smile

    BTW, who’s making the stuff that goes into the boxes?

    @Ahmed: If things are always that great, then this is really good addition to the blogs.

    Not so interesting for me this time: mits minus

  9. Southpaw says:

    It’s great having recpatcha to avoid spam but I just hope the words are interesting. Sometimes reacaptcha can get really irritating.

  10. Ahmed says:

    @Southpaw: Heh, I’ve got the captcha for you then. This was the first one I ever saw on the blogs.

  11. makesense says:

    Ahmed-hahaa that’s brilliant/ironic. I wonder who picks/sets them? since that sounds too staged smile
    I’ll admit I just flipped through a bunch…great entertainment

  12. Jenny '13 says:

    @ahmed, wow, how you managed to get that, i’m not sure

    i jus clicked through like 20… none as interesting.

    this recaptcha will actually be tough for me. it usually takes me 1-2 tries….i’ll take this as practice for being more careful on reading exam questions….:/

  13. Mike says:

    The classic Bexley video comes to mind…

  14. Mowgli Late says:

    I am fine with the word version of this technology, but the one that has letters and numbers that appear to be made of wax left on a warm stove is impossible to read. Mowgli late indeed!

  15. Elias ('14?) says:

    On second thought, I’m finding reCAPTCHA to be an entertaining time waster – I’ve been dubbed ‘Eisenhower’s dairyman.’ Win?

  16. best part of ReCaptcha you don’t read randomly generated computer text, you read actual pieces from actual books.You help digitalization of big liblary archives…It doesn’t just a waste of time like other equivalents

  17. VAL ('14?) says:

    Yay for technology! I hope this succeeds in reducing the amount of spam that you guys receive. It also gives commenters a chance to reflect upon what they have written. Two birds- one stone, eh?

  18. Anonymous says:

    What was it all about?

  19. Snively says:

    So I got 7 1/2 as a mixed number for one of my captchas, does this thing read LaTeX?

  20. Chris M. says:

    well you know reCaptcha is helping to digitize books, magazines, and other printed material from times of old right?

    Every time you comment, a bit of history is saved!

  21. George-N says:

    Always look on the bright side of things, & soon spam will be no more (in a virtual way really)