Turing Test Update: Success

I recently blogged about humans failing my blog’s comment “Turing Test.” My blog had a box below the real comments box, prefaced with a statement to the effect that you shouldn’t enter anything in that box if you were a human (yet some humans did enter comments in that box, thus shunting their comments to a spam file). In response, several commenters noted that my layout was confusing and offered suggestions for improvements.

I’ve taken their advice and wrapped the “spam” comment box in a style tag that will make the box invisible if your browser renders CSS. I had this perhaps irrational fear that the spammers were smart enough to read the CSS, but as it turns out, they aren’t. The box is now invisible to most users, but I continue to get as many as several dozen spammers filling in the invisible box.

The main shortcoming I can see with the current system is that people who use text-only browsers like w3m or cell phones, or people with visual disabilities who use an audio screen reader may still be confused. Still, I think this is much less intrusive, annoying, and non-accessible than, say, a hard-to-read captcha that won’t work at all for those people.