Site News #8: Darn Robots, Get off my Lawn!

This used to be a nice neighborhood!

Hi, everyone.
We didn’t want to do this, but for our protection and yours, we’ve had to implement a registration captcha. Over the past few weeks, we’ve noticed we were suddenly receiving many new user registrations. At first, this was exciting news, but under closer examination, they were a bunch of usernames that appeared to be a random string of characters with bogus email addresses attached. Therefore, measures were needed to mitigate this problem, so began the search for anti-spam solutions.

There is good news though, and the good news is twofold. First, currently the only page that is affected is the new user registration page. That’s the only place that has been harboring trouble lately. Second, the solution is silent, so when a new user registers legitimately, they won’t have to click all the squares with stoplights in them. That said, if it comes to it, we will not hesitate to implement stronger solutions.

This site is to be as simple and welcoming as possible, so we will not be implementing annoyances like this unnecessarily. We’ll certainly react to any issues becoming a problem, but until then, we are really not interested in having our audience prove their innocence. Adding site security measures such as this also poses philosophical issues that we must internally reconcile as well. As proponents of digital privacy, we do our best to be good stewards of any potentially identifiable information (of which, very little is captured – pretty much only email addresses). However, the more measures we have to put in place here to verify people are who they say they are slowly erodes privacy and increases sharing across the web. For example: Google’s reCaptcha API collects the source IP of each request, and is thus subject to Google’s privacy policy, which we all know to be problematic. Though, to make it clear: as it stands now, no information from the anti-spam solution in place is shared with any third parties, as it does not use Google’s API. We want to ensure it stays that way for as long as possible.

If these darn robots would just stay away, we wouldn’t have need for all this pesticide in the first place…

That’s all for now. Stay safe, everyone! Protect your online privacy, and watch for some (hopefully) new content here.