First, exciting news! We reached 1000 sign-ups for the A-to-Z Challenge! Wow! If you haven't signed up yet, there's still plenty of time. That's 1000 possible new people for you to meet.
Speaking of the A-to-Z Challenge, you're probably seeing a lot about the new Word CAPTCHA system Blogger has begun using. By CAPTCHA, I mean the word verification you have to do in order to make a post on some blogs. The problem is that the new CAPTCHA can be very hard to read, especially for those of us with eye issues (for instance, macular degeneration, which I have...don't go check my avatar again, I'm only in my 30's--it was a freak incident with a really bad bout of the flu). It's not just us freaks, though, the words are hard to read.
Have you noticed that the first word is typically more easily read, but the second word is sometimes unreadable, and pretty much always hard to read? I believe, and I could not confirm that with the small amount of research I started out doing before my internet went loopy on me, that this is because Blogger may have switched everyone over to reCAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA takes the system already in place to prevent spammers and puts it to use in digitizing old books and newspapers. You see, computers can't read text that is mushed together or has some other image through it, like a line (give them time). This is why word verification programs like CAPTCHA work to keep spammers off your blog; little bots sent out to spam online cannot translate this kind of text.
This new reCAPTCHA system sticks a known word (known to the computer, that is) next to a piece of scanned text that the computer cannot read. When people enter the word verification and get the first word right, the computer gets to assume the second word was also entered correctly, and the system can now translate that word from that specific piece of writing. I am assuming, possibly incorrectly, that this same word must be translated multiple times in the same way before it is accepted as valid. One would hope, anyway.
This information can be taken one of two ways. Either you get to be happy you're helping translate old texts so they can be properly digitized, or you can be frustrated anyway and throw your keyboard out the window as I've been tempted to do many times.
As interesting as it may be to be a part of this, I'm going to have to set a personal rule that if I have to push the little "new word" button more than once, I will not be commenting on that blog. There have been a few occasions where I had to keep pushing it because every word that came along was illegible. This can be a great frustration, and can lose you readers in the long run. You may want to consider turning it off, especially during high traffic times (such as April if you're participating in the A-to-Z Challenge). I've gone ahead and disabled mine to save others the frustration. The sound playback is often not any better. I can tell you that I am getting notified of spam, but Blogger is automatically catching any anonymous comments, which is the only form it's come in, so far. So I get the email about the spam, but when I check the actual post, the spam has not been posted, nor is it waiting in my dashboard for me.
If you aren't sure whether you have CAPTCHA set up on your blog, there is a good chance you do. It appears to be set up to go automatically if you don't disable it. If you're curious as to how to do this, go to "Design" on the top right of your blog (this is for Blogger blogs only), "Settings," and look under the sub-category "Comments." If you are using the new interface, you have to change back to the old one to view that particular section.
I will still visit blogs that have CAPTCHA; I just may not be able to comment as often as I might otherwise. It can be time consuming trying to identify the CAPTCHA word, and I just don't have that kind of time!
How do you feel about the new CAPTCHA/reCAPTCHA?
May you find your Muse.