Plugins Behaving Badly

By Shamus Posted Saturday Apr 14, 2007

Filed under: Notices 42 comments

In response to the feedback from yesterday, I’ve turned off Bad Behavior and added a new plugin which does captcha. (Captchas? Chptchai? Is there a proper plural for this annoying and cumbersome acronym? Hard to remember, hard to spell, hard to pronounce! It’s a trifecta!) The new plugin shouldn’t daunt you with unreadable swirly characters, white on an off-white background with medium-white lines in the background. It just uses a few easy-to-recognize words and simple fonts.

It’s another step readers have to take in order to comment, and the rejection screen is appalingly crude, but otherwise the system should be painless.

Feedback desired. Let me know if the thing acts up. If you can’t post at all, please let me know: shamus -at- shamusyoung dot com.


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42 thoughts on “Plugins Behaving Badly

  1. Eric Meyer says:

    Hopefully you won’t have anyone blind who wants to comment, since image-based CAPTCHAs are an insurmountable roadblock to the blind.

  2. Steve Lytton/Deathblade_Penguin says:

    Eric – yo are hilarious… because i am sure Shamus has a large blind contigent who enjoy reading his comics and posts..lmao

    Shamus – no problems making comments but then i never had any issues..

  3. Ryan says:

    Did you come up with the words? Because I was just testing it out and got “d20” as my captcha.

    If it was just serendipity, that was pretty awesome.

  4. GEBIV says:

    Filthy see-ist. Oppressing the blind commenters. You’re almost as bad as those people at the DMV.

    On a possibly irreverent aside, would being blind be a good or bad thing when playing AD&D? On the one hand, you’d probably have the ability to mentally picture the action without any outside visual distractions. On the other hand, you’d have to trust everyone else was being honest with their rolls…

  5. Plymouth T. Carbunkle says:

    Hey small guy be man to yor partnar click link we have yor viagra for you!

    Naw, just kidding. I hope the new system works. Comment spammers suck.

  6. I have to say, the captcha is really funny. I got “dork”. It is a roadblock to the blind, unfortunately, but I think that’s got to be blamed on the spammers, not Shamus.

  7. Shamus says:

    GEBIV: You made me laugh. Twice.

    Yes, I chose the list of words. All of them are short, obvious and easy to spell. I HATE CAPTCHA like “Nc4Ev” oh wiat, that was “NcE4v” or was it…

    Bleh. I suspect that OCR driven spam (if they exist) are few and easily dispensed with via the ol’ IP banstick.

  8. Luke says:

    I have been using BadBehavior for a while now, and it never gave me this kinds of problems. Have you reported the bug to the plugin creator?

    I like the new CAPTCHA. :)

  9. Ian says:

    @2 – Way to sound like a moron. Good job! No blind people would ever want to read anything that Shamus wrote. All those other funny posts? Why would the blind want to read them? All the commentary on geek culture? Well, obviously there are no blind geeks, so they’d NEVER want to read those.

    /golfclap for your ignorance

  10. Samrobb says:

    “I suspect that OCR driven spam (if they exist) are few and easily dispensed with via the ol' IP banstick.”

    See – apparently, just having a captcha (even a single, static, unchanginc captcha word) is amazingly effective. IIRC, the author thought unlikely that anybody was wasting effort on using OCR to defeat captchas.

  11. Polk says:

    My word was joystick!

  12. Roxysteve says:

    Much better system Shamus. Well done that man.


  13. Roxysteve says:

    Eric Meyer Says:
    Hopefully you won't have anyone blind who wants to comment, since image-based CAPTCHAs are an insurmountable roadblock to the blind.

    I would hazard a guess that a blog dedicated to vvisual media such as high-speed first person video gaming and the webcomic DM of the Rings would be somewhat less than riveting for someone who could not see.

    I say this not to troll nor to disparage blind people, but to note that a global aproach to web accessibility has some in-built stupidities that can cause legal issues on paper where there are none in real life.


  14. Stranger says:

    Ah, this is the thread for the system . . .

    Occasionally it will not accept an anti-spam word, and keep spitting it back no matter what even when refreshed and the new word is entered. Only solution is to “back” and re-enter the page.

  15. LafinJack says:

    Maybe it’s CAPTCHAS’S.

    (I know, different from of -s, but it’s still funny)

  16. Justin says:

    I might be able to kill two birds with one stone here.

    I play D&D with a friend of mine who is legally blind. He can see, sort of, but needs mucho magnification to use a computer.

    At any rate, he can play D&D but not without some difficulty. He has a hard time telling where I draw the lines on the battlemat and sometimes wants to move his character through them. Not a big deal, as he always asks if a move is plausible and/or dangerous before he actually picks up the Lego guy and moves him. As for dice, he’s fine with “traditional” spotted d6’s, but with anything else, he depends on the rest of us to tell him the truth, and sometimes to locate the die in the first place. It doesn’t seem to affect his enjoyment of the game at all, though, which is good to see.

    Now, as to webcomics, forget it. Because the layout isn’t in nice blocks of text, it’s too much of a PITA for him to read it (this or any other one) because he can’t always easily find the next speech bubble and keep track of who’s saying what.

  17. Phlux says:

    I was a little skeptical, but then as soon as I went to post I could see you really did make it easy to use. No complaints here. Mine was d20…I can tell you must have supplied your own set of words into the system.

  18. Sauron says:

    Well, I would like to speak for the technologically-abled (okay, I frequent /. and a variety of other technology-minded blog/news sites). I’d have to say that the plural has almost always been CAPTCHAs for as long as I can remember.

    In other news, I would much prefer if you would use… a different CAPTCHA approach: .

  19. wildweasel says:

    Seems like picking your own captcha words might prove to be troublesome, as these comments could potentially be fished to give the keywords to the bots =P

  20. Gothmog says:

    I got d20 as well-

    Shamus, what’s the name of this captcha plugin? I’d like to install it on my WP site as well.


  21. Lord ZYRK says:

    I sd20 just set up to be the most common, or can you even do that, cause mine’s also d20.

  22. Rustybadger says:

    Gothmog – the plugin is called Peter’s Antispan, and you can get it from .

  23. Rustybadger says:

    Sorry, Gthmog – bad html again, and no Preview option for comments! Link to Peter’s Custom Anti-Spam.

  24. Rustybadger says:

    Sorry, Gothmog, bad html, and no Preview option for comments! The link is, or Click Here

  25. Gothmog says:

    Thanks, Rustybadger! I’ll check it out now.

  26. Shamus says:

    Thanks Rusty. Yeah, Peter’s Anitpam. (I shoulda given him a link.)

    d20 is the only word it will give you now. It’s short and easy to remember, and more than enough to stop the bots.

    In the last 12 hours, I have gotten zero spam. I think we have a winner. I may even remove Akismet, which will stop the odd comment from getting thrown into moderation until I can come in and set it free.

  27. Cineris says:

    Zero spam? Wow. I think I may start doing this from now on…

  28. Rustybadger says:

    Ah, I guess that’s why my comments were going AWOL this afternoon – Akismet was munging them. Now it looks like I was linkback spamming. *sigh* Glad the captcha is working, though – a nice bit of plugin magic from a fellow British Columbian of mine!

  29. Vegedus says:

    Heh, d20, thats nice. And zero spam? Thats nicer.

  30. Harvey says:

    Yeah, I know it doesn’t need testing anymore, but I’m swept up in the lemming-like excitement of it all.

  31. tafka says:

    Ooh, this is nifty. I like the prove you’re human word I got. In fact, I had a geekgasm.

    yay, pointydice!

  32. Nathaniel says:

    Blind-friendly CAPTCHAs do exist, but probably not in convenient plug-in form. The ones I’ve seen will have a line of randomly generated text of the form “What is the sum of 4 and 9?” or “please enter the lowercase letter ‘a’ 5 times.”

  33. Ian says:


    And let’s not forget the ones that read you the letters and numbers.

    I’m kind of glad that some of them offer aural assistance, to be honest! Nothing is worse than an impossible to read CAPTCHA that doesn’t tolerate the inability to tell uppercase I’s from lowercase L’s, and O’s from zeros…

  34. I had some difficulty with the font–I couldn’t tell in the script font what was a “2” and what was a “Z”.

  35. Deoxy says:

    Heh – d20 as the captcha. This is a test post. I might do a few more… yay.

  36. Deoxy says:

    Hmm, I can’t seem to enter another comment unless I close the post and reopen it.

  37. Deoxy says:

    Yeah, that seems to be it.

  38. Deoxy says:

    Or not… weird. Now I can comment just fine (as long as I make enough typos that I don’t post again too quickly for WordPress).

  39. Phlux says:

    Wow those bots must be pretty stupid if they can’t figure out a captcha that never changes.

    I think you’re riding the wave of success for captchas as a method for defeating spam. Sure there are some out there who try to process the images, particularly for applications like ticketmaster and contest entries, etc… But nobody who wants to spam forums even bothers because it takes too long and costs too much.

    So since everyone else who uses captchas makes them in sixty four colors, with squiggly lines, static and upper and lower case letters that can’t be differentiated from numbers…you can just set yours to d20 and the spammers don’t even try to get in!

    Lets hope everyone else doesn’t catch on to this idea, or else everyone will dumb down their captchas so much that the rising tide of spam will eventually breach the levy.

  40. Miral says:

    The 2 really does look like a Z though.

  41. Miguelanxo says:

    Just testing

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