Using Radio Buttons to Combat Form Spam

There has been a lot of talk lately (and rightly so) about the disadvantages of using captcha to stop comment spam.

I’m not a big fan. They’re often hard to read even for someone with reasonably normal vision.

“Is that a zero or the letter O?”

“Upper case C or lower case c?”

Others have suggested some sort of simple logic question, like asking “What’s 1+1” and having the user enter a ‘2’ in a text box.

That might be better, but it also requires some thought.

So I noticed that on Slideshare they prefix a captcha device with the question, “Are you human?”

And it got me thinking, can bots deal with radio buttons? Can we ask a question like this?

[syntax,human_form.htm,html4strict]

Human Radio Buttons

I must admit I haven’t done any research, but I’m thinking:

  1. If a bot doesn’t understand radio buttons it will skip the question and fail
  2. If it does understand radio buttons, it will probably choose the first option and fail
  3. It’s an extremely simple question for a human to answer and should be completely accessible.

Point 2 is probably the most contentious. I’m making a big assumption there.

Has anyone else tried this? Can anyone spot any obvious disadvantages?

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Really Bad Powerpoint

I was at a meeting recently where a teacher gave a presentation about some stuff the school was involved in. And, of course, she used Powerpoint.

Very badly.

I’m sure you have all seen it. Several paragraphs of text per slide. Cheesy animations (and different animations for each block of text). The “handouts” get handed to you as the presentation commences, so you and up reading the handouts during the presentation. And then you feel a little guilty, so you start listening to the presentation, only to find it contains exactly what’s on the handouts anyway – nothing more.

Yikes – if this is what teachers do then I’m really sorry for my kids.

It reminded my of an eBook by Seth Godin called Really Bad Powerpoint. (Links to a PDF file.) Well worth a read if you ever have to give a presentation.

And then today I read a comparison between the presentation styles of Uncle Steve and Uncle Bill. (Jobs and Gates if you’re not sure.) Which reminded me of Seth’s eBook again – especially if you look at the comparisons between the 2 sets of slides used in the example.

Now, I know public speaking is hard – and I’m trying not to be too critical of the teacher here. But please! Put some more thought into your presentations!!!