Dystopian Bugbear Bots; or, Making it Easier to Comment on the M&T Blog

We’ve all experienced those ironic moments when a website tries to confirm that we are in fact human beings, rather than some kind of mischievous robot. Obviously, anyone looking at me knows that I’m a real person, but computers aren’t that smart. They want me to identify fire hydrants instead. Or, to take the inimitably human action of checking a box that says, “I’m not a robot.”

CAPTCHAs, as they’re known, were first developed around 20 years ago to prevent bots from accessing more sensitive parts of websites, whether blogs or payment gateways. The acronym is short for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart," about as clear an explanation as you’d like. But more and more, these things are becoming annoyingly ubiquitous. Some estimates are that we savvy online users as a whole waste 500 years per day checking boxes and clicking on photos of crosswalks to prove our humanity to computers. If nothing else, this is annoying.

Here at M&T, we’ve been using a system for our blog that allows for nested comments (indenting your comment under the person’s post you’re responding to) – it helps to straighten out the flow of conversations. But the comment system was secured by CAPTCHAs – presumably, this should help avoid spam posts, but it’s a pain for anyone who just wants to get on and say, “Hey, that’s a cool axe.”


After a ton of research and digging around for better options, we’ve switched over to a new and much easier interface. If you’re logged in to your M&T account, you can just type and post. If you’re not logged in, just add your name to the comment. It’s super simple, and will hopefully encourage more folks to get in on the conversation. We’ll be at the ready to clean out any bots that show up.

Another good way to keep up to date with what’s going on around here is to subscribe to the M&T Newsletter, which you can do here. There’s content in the Newsletter that can’t be found anywhere else. I hope you’ll check it out.


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