November 13, 2009

Type The Characters That You See In The Picture


What is going on with the Blogger verification words, lately - you know, the little supposedly 'nonsense' words you have to read and then type in when you post a comment on someone's blog?

Everyone is noticing they're starting to get really weird. Yesterday, Tillerman left a comment on my pottery post (yeah, sailing blogs are getting pretty weird, too), and his verification word was urnal, as in referring to an urn.

Coincidence? I think not. I'm starting to get really pissed at the guys who make up these verification words.

What? You still think they're generated automatically by some computer program? Well, I thought so, too, at first, but I'm now convinced that can't be so.

First of all, these are obviously not just random strings of letters, or you'd end up with totally unpronounceable things like xrfjzmx or kqrlmn or, even worse, actual Welsh words.

What we get instead are 'words' that are friendly to English speaking mouths but still have no meaning - groups of letters like wanam or moopy. It would take some serious programming time to write a program to do that. Today, it's much cheaper to hire a roomful of people in India and have them just punch up some letters on the screen whenever you open a comments page in Blogger.

I was skeptical at first, too. Nah, can't be, I thought, - I'm just being paranoid. No wise guy in India is watching what I type and then making up some curveball of a verification word.

Until a few months ago, that is. I'd read a post on JP's blog about a program that lets you do full marine GPS navigation on an iPhone. This was pretty cool. I made some sort of reply about the software and then, there it was, the verification word:


iMatey, fer Chrissakes!!! I swear to Tillerman, I'm not making that up. I'm not clever enough to make that up.

But my point is that no Blogger software program is clever enough, either. Here, finally, was proof positive that some drones in India actually are reading our comments and making up verification words on the fly.

Besides the requisite lower case 'i' that's de rigeur for an iPhone app, 'matey' is a word that's both nautical and cutesy in a marketing kind of way. iMatey would be the perfect product name for the GPS iPhone program in JP's post. There's even the play on words of 'aye, Matey'. It's just too damned perfect. There is a human mind at work here - I'm convinced of it. Some guy in India is bored out of his tree and is messing with me.

After that, I started doing screen grabs of this guy's witticisms.

Here he is having some fun with the old Dan Quayle potato misspelling:

Sometimes, he lowers himself to adolescent bathroom humor:

I make the mistake of revealing in a comment that I work for a newspaper, and he throws this at me:

And just a little too much flip alliteration in a comment on Tillerman's blog and he starts getting critical:

One of my brilliant remarks goes completely over his head, and he tells me this:

But about two weeks ago, he must have had a really bad day. When I left a comment on JP's blog, my jaw dropped at the verification word. This guy is very good. He knows there's no way I can track him down and he knows that Blogger would deny, deny, deny that there is any such room full of Indian word verification typers.

So, he's gotten really brazen. He wasn't cute or witty anymore. He was just crude. There it was, in red and white, sticking it to me in no uncertain terms, the verification word of ultimate defiance:

If this continues, I'm switching to Wordpress!



  1. Word Verifications, or CAPTCHAs, are simply detestable. ... and SO unnecessary. While they thwart spammers, they also thwart about 15% of real people, and nearly 100% of people with disabilities. Blind people find them a nearly perfect barrier. The audio version (the wheelchair link) are often so horrendous as to be completely inscrutable.

    As a software developer, and accessibility specialist (designing web software for people with disabilities), I see the use of CAPTCHAs as extreme laziness on the part of system implementers.

    The better approach is to implement very good spam filtering (it can be done). Let the system do the work. Don't transfer it to the users / readers / customers.

    Which is all the more reason to switch to Wordpress. They have one of the best collaborative spam filters known to man, and no CAPTCHAs.

    THANKS for the chuckles about the words you discovered. That last one should be reserved for the developers who force CPATCHAs on us.

    By the way, the word currently offered as I type this is "brick." That guy is watching!

  2. As the word appears before you type the comment he/she must be reading your mind!!!

    Ya gotta feel sorry for them.


  3. I guess it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that Google is using some algorithm like the Google Ads software uses to come up with a word that is relevant to the text in the post... and then they deliberately corrupt it a bit to make it harder to guess.

  4. I think you might have missed a trick - those words don't apply to the commentor but to the blogger..... er.... hang-on, that would mean......

  5. So, it's not just me...

    Word Verification: stratica

    as in Dayam straight, the latin variance of the past perfect objective form

  6. and now, I was going to leave something smart and critical of this system and it says:


  7. The guy in India is getting tired with this discussion...

    Word verification: shnorre

  8. Mike, you need to think this through.

    Sure, there's a verification word when you open the comments page. He has to fill in something quick in case you leave a one- or two-word comment (or if you combine your two-word comment into one word as he has done).

    But what happens if you take some time to type a comment into the scroll box and he has a while to read it?

    Aha! He changes the verification word. How many times have you hit 'publish' only to see the verification has changed? Mike, they're watching our every move.

    Tillerman, corrupt the word a bit to make it harder to guess? Did you have any trouble guessing what the last example meant to say?

    And now, there are four more examples here, in just eight comments, of words that are making people suspicious. They even knew that Zen speaks Latin (wow, I didn't know that - I'm impressed).

    How long must we endure this Orwellian surveillance?

  9. I just ditched the captchas and so far, I've only got two cialis/viagra spams.

    I'm sorry for staying on topic in my comments.

    I like turtles.

  10. I'm beginning to think that the occasional cialis spam might be more entertaining than all these people leaving me comments telling me what the verification word is.

    Verification word: jacit

  11. Many people tell me the verification word is the most entertaining part of this blog.

  12. It's amazing how much the blogging world has changed since I used to blog.

  13. an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of keyboards will eventually type all the great literary works...

    "To be or not to be, that is the gzorninblat!" ~Bob Newhart

    word verif: some Welsh word.

  14. I thought an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of keyboards was the definition of blogging.

  15. The infinite monkeys blogging argument was disproven in an experiment in 2003. Researchers left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes Crested Macaques. Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five pages consisting largely of the letter S, the lead male bashed the keyboard with a stone, and then the other monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it.

    No wait. Some blogs are like that. I guess it does prove the theory.

  16. This made me guffaw!!!

    I used to tell people at cocktail parties that I was a battery label designer. Now i'm going to say i'm a verification word writer.

  17. I have the greatest respect for battery label designers.

    Anyone could have made Duracell the copper bottom battery. It took real genius to come up with the copper top.

  18. I had to bring the captchas back. Too many chinese-character spams mixed in with cialis ads. Sheesh.

    My all time favorite captcha will remain a payment site I used when booking a flight. I often get my last name rejected with the reason being that "no special characters are allowed" owing to the apostrophe in my last name, O'Shea. When I get rejected, I have to enter my name without the apostrophe, re-enter the password I created and enter the new captcha.

    This time the captcha I was presented with, owing to my having attempted to use a special character, was: O'Sullivan.