Why does about every third email I send require me to type in stupid letters
that run together and aren’t legible? If I opt for audio, there’s no audio.
This is a ridiculous time waster when I need to be in contact with various
secretaries in various villages.
In this excerpt from
Answercast #51, I take a look at those hard-to-read letters that websites
throw at you in attempts to reduce spam.
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Testing for “human”
What you’re referring to as those “stupid letters” are what’s called a
The point of a CAPTCHA is to determine that you are in fact a human and not
another computer trying to send spam. The point is that computers are basically
unable to (at this point in time) decipher that semi-indecipherable text,
whereas in most cases humans are.
By determining that you can interpret those letters, you are
proving to the system that you are, in fact, a real person, and not a computer
trying to abuse the system.
Now, the problem here is why is it happening so often; and it really
You email program
For whatever reason, the system, (you haven’t indicated what email program
you’re using so I can’t really make a guess) but whatever system you’re using,
for some reason, thinks your connection or your activity is somehow suspicious.
Whatever that might be.
I know that you don’t consider it suspicious. But it may be that some
combination of factors, everything from your location to the words that you use to the timing that you’re using to all sorts of different things could be flags to the system that says, “You know what? We should probably confirm that this person really is real and not someone trying to abuse the system.”
That’s when they throw a CAPTCHA test at you to prove that you’re human.
Change your email interface
So, the easiest way to get around this problem is not to use the web
interface. Again, I don’t know what email service you’re using, but what you could do
instead is to use a program like Thunderbird.
Install that on your PC; use that; configure that to actually send and
receive the email to and from this account that you have. That way, that
interface is not subject to this kind of computer/human test. It’s probably the
best way to get around it.
Contact your service
The other thing, I suppose, would be to ask the service if they have any
guidelines as to why they might be throwing this up so frequently.
My guess is that they won’t tell you. It’s not because they don’t want to.
It’s because whenever they expose the algorithm behind their decisions, they
are, in fact, making it easier for spammers to work around them.
So by answering your question, by being public about why they do what they
do, they are providing information to spammers that then allows them to work
around those limitations, and in fact, send more spam.
So other than simply putting up with it or perhaps switching to a different
email service, the best thing I can suggest for you to do is to:
Go ahead and download another email program like Thunderbird or Outlook or
any of a number of others and
Use that to send and receive your email instead of your email service’s
End of Answercast #51 Back to –