Clients often ask me what CAPTCHA is. It seems like a made-up word (they’re all made up, really), but it’s actually an acronym for a really useful tool. There are many CAPTCHA benefits in WordPress. Read on to find out more!
Knock, knock. Who’s there? A spam bot.
If you’re a web administrator or website owner, then you are bound to know the ugly truth that is the Spam Bot. Someone, somewhere in the world must have made a deal with the Devil in hopes of a larger payout that didn’t exactly pan out the way they intended.
Thanks to the mastermind behind them, those pesky little underlings crawl the web ready to cause mischief at every turn. This means more work and more time eaten up for the honest web admin who is left to clean up the mess left in their wake.
However, we are not left to combat these digital rats ready to steal links and time all on our own. Other hero-minded people saw the need to fight off these spam bots and they created systems and tools to help others to just that.
One such tool is CAPTCHA.
What Is CAPTCHA?
CAPTCHAs are nothing new to the experienced web surfer. Sites, both large and small, use the system for one reason or another.
But, ever wonder where in the world the people who coined the phrase, CAPTCHA, came up with that nonsensical name? Well, you may find it interesting to know that the strange word is actually a clever acronym meaning the following:
Completely Automated Public Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.
What a mouthful! Now aren’t you happy that they shortened it?
The actual meaning of the word essentially explains exactly what its purpose is: keeping pesky bots out and letting in well-meaning humans (or at least that is the hope).
The CAPTCHA program does this by running a challenge-response — generally in the form of pictures with numbers or a set of smeared looking words — that is used to see if you really are human after all. The best part is that since it is an automated system you don’t have to do a thing to make it work. But perhaps the question we should ask is why this type of system works at all.
Simply put, a human can read or understand the words, pictures or numbers displayed in a CAPTCHA form and enter them in the correct area, whereas a bot can do no such a thing. It may seem like a small issue, but the CAPTCHA system has proven to be beneficial for more than one reason.
Why Use CAPTCHA?
The answer to that question can be summed up in one word: Spam. Not the food product, but the time-wasting, nails on a chalkboard, shoot yourself in the foot out of sheer irritation, Spam. (Not like I hate the stuff or anything *wink*.)
On a more serious note though, spam is not only irritating, but spammers (both robot and humans alike) can — through no fault of your own — have a negative impact on your site’s SEO.
CAPTCHA can be used in a few ways, but there are two that at the top of the list:
Blocking Spam Emails | Don’t you hate it when you go to open a seemingly important email only to find that it is spam? Yeah… me too. If you want or need help help blocking those pesky emails, then using a CAPTCHA submission form at the end of your contact page/form can help to lower the number of junk emails that wind up in your Inbox or Spam folder
Blocking Spam Comments | Perhaps the most irritating thing a website administrator has to deal with is spam comments. Sure, plugins like Anti-Spam Bee or Akismet can capture those bot induced spam comments and send them to the spam folder in your WP dashboard, but they can’t actually stop such comments from being submitted. Using a CAPTCHA form on your comments may be slightly tedious for your commenters’, but using it can eliminate a large chunk of those spam comments from even happening in the first place. This means that you can spend more time on the good bits of running a WordPress site, and less on comment moderation — we all hate that part.
For as great as using CAPTCHA on submission forms may be, there is one thing it can’t do.
What CAPTCHA Does Not Do
CAPTCHA is a great anti-spam solution, but like so many spam-swatters, it can’t do everything you’d like it to. As the meaning of the name tells us, CAPTCHA is used to help keep Spam Bots from clogging your system. It can’t, on the other hand, keep humans with spammy intentions from mucking things up.
A person can still bypass the CAPTCHA system and leave an annoying spam comment that’ll have to moderate later or send an email that you’ll end up having to clear our sooner rather than later. It’s annoying, but that’s just how it is.
Even still, using the CAPTCHA system can be of a huge benefit. If you want to save yourself some time and stress-induced headaches, then you should probably consider implementing CAPTCHA on your site.