Canadian Atheist contact forms now using reCAPTCHA

by | July 20, 2017

Due to the ungodly amount of spam we receive at Canadian Atheist, I’ve decided to start using Google reCAPTCHA on all our contact forms.

You’ve probably seen a reCAPTCHA before. It’s one of these things:

[Image of an unsolved reCAPTCHA challenge.]

reCAPTCHA example

You can actually see it in action on our contact page.

Google uses some tricks to only actually test you if you’re “suspicious”. Otherwise, you click the checkbox, and it just gives you the green check mark without a fuss.

I realize that this isn’t ideal, for a few reasons:

  • CAPTCHAs in general create barriers for access.
  • They generally require JavaScript to be enabled to work.
  • There is a privacy concern as some of your personal data is being sent to Google.

However, something must be done to deal with the amount of spam we get. Legitimate messages are getting lost in cacophony.

This solution probably won’t be permanent. At some point in the future CA will be moving to HTTPS. When we do, I might implement our own spam-blocking system – one that doesn’t require JavaScript, and certainly one that doesn’t send your personal data to other servers. (It could just be as simple as a small set of challenge/answer questions, like: “What is the Prime Minister’s first name?” or “What is the second word in the following list: foo bar baz qux?”, possibly implemented with a multiple-choice radio button list. Doesn’t take much to outsmart most spam bots.)

In the meantime, this should help significantly with controlling the volume of junk mail we receive. And that in turn means it will be much easier for us to notice legitimate messages, and respond to them.

2 thoughts on “Canadian Atheist contact forms now using reCAPTCHA

  1. Randy

    “At some point in the future CA will be moving to HTTPS”

    What’s the hold up? It couldn’t be easier…


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