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Halt! Who Goes There?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Or, perhaps, "What goes there?" Human or machine?

Over in "When Spambots Attack" I described how the number of false email addresses has been causing real headaches for FeedBlitz the last few days. The previous technique we were using, filtering, simply didn't scale well enough and quickly enough to prevent boatloads of junk being added to lists by the scripts. It was getting to be very annoying to say the least. Another way needed to be found to separate people from machines.

So, scratch filters, enter image verification. You've seen this before - you have to enter a sequence of letters or numbers as part of the registration or subscription process. The idea is that the human eye can pick out the text fairly easy - millions of years of evolution have seen to that - but computers aren't that good at it (yet). So a spambot won't succeed in filling the FeedBlitz database with meaningless addresses because it won't be able to read the text. Some images are easier to read than others, but simply refreshing the screen creates a new test image for you to try if you can't quite see the current one clearly. The visually impaired and those using text-based browsers can contact support at the support address to complete their registrations.

With immediate effect, image verification has been implemented for subscriber sign ups and new registrations. It adds an element of inconvenience and difficulty to the process, which I don't like, but it makes the service more robust and more secure, which I do. This has to be done to maintain FeedBlitz's service quality. Score this one to the "necessary evil" column, unfortunately. Any issues, please drop a line to support.



Blogger Sam Freedom said...

So why do you term it a "necessary evil"? What's so evil about requiring people to verify their existence in order to keep the web a cleaner place?

Oh wait a minute, not to seem sarcastic but I do sense a bit of the idealistic viewpoint that we should all be able to just run around naked, have sex with whomever we want, and spend, spend, spend the government's money on illegal immigrants who want nothing more than to have a better life (read: clogging up welfare, immigration, medical and legal services).

Oh yes, in light of all that, I can see how something like image verification can seem so mean-spirited and evil. Shame on those spambots, shame on them!

Ok, in all seriousness, you need to revisit your Darwin books and take this whole shebang out of the realm of "good vs. evil"

Best regards,
Sam Freedom
Sam Freedom's Internet Marketing Controversy
ps. Wait, I forgot to consider that censoring my free expression might also be deemed a necessary evil. Woe is me! Anyways, congrats on solving your problem. :-)

7:07 AM, February 22, 2006  

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