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It seems that reCAPTCHA is a victim of its own success. Y’all know I’m a huge, huge fan. However, recently the spammers have started to submit comments, successfully getting past the reCAPTCHA . I suspect this is a mechanical turk or some such tomfoolery. Of course the comments don’t get approved, but they’re still a bother to have to delete.

Our friend over at ( guess which friend?) also has the same problem with submitted span. This makes it clear that reCAPTCHA is being targeted (well, not clear, but it’s better than n=1!). However, he found a solution to stop the spammers. He added a static math question to his comment form. That is, it’s always “what is 5 + 6”, never any other question. Funny enough, his spam stopped all together. He still has his reCAPTCHA giong, but now it’s a two factor anti-spam.

I posit that the reCAPTCHA code is easy enough to programmatically detect, but some random math question isn’t, so it breaks the spam scripts. Let’s test this theory, shall we? I’ve just written a word press plug-in called simple-math. Using a simple to hack, all client side javascript there’s now an easy to solve math problem on the comment form. It is random, choosing two numbers between 0 and 9. I haven’t tested it too broadly, but you’re welcome to a copy.

I’ll let it run for a week and see how it goes and report back.

Feb 13th Update: I fought the law, and law won! Spammers got past round one of simple math. I’ve updated it to now check for the existence of the field on post, but still, no checking for a right answer on the server. As well, the field is created via javascript. Spammers, back to you for round 2.

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