CAPTCHAS: What Are They, and Are They Worth the Trouble?

CAPTCHA stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart," and I use them on my blogs. Whether or not you choose to use them on yours is a different matter.

What is a CAPTCHA?

It's that annoying little gizmo that asks you to retype a random series of numbers and letters into a little box, to show that you're human and not some spamming computer. They even have a little audio icon, so you can hear the series if the scramble is too hard to read (which lots are, I've noticed). 

There are different kinds of CAPTCHAs, with differing levels of complexity.  Older ones are nicer and less problematic than the later versions. 

Should You Use CAPTCHAs on Your Blog?

I do. Some don't: they argue that the balance between Spam-Fighting and making their blogs comment-friendly means not having a CAPTCHA. They worry that a CAPTCHA costs them comments.

Personally, I think it depends on the blogging platform - not all CAPTCHAs are the same. Check yours out. If it's a problem, then consider pulling it.

For example, Typepad (a popular blogging platform) has CAPTCHAs that bother me.  One writer-friend loves Typepad, and I like to comment on her blog every once in a while.  However, I'm doing this less and less because it's such a hassle.  What's going on? 

There's an added burden to her CAPTCHA of requiring me to sign in via one of my social media accounts before I can leave a comment.  Time-consuming.  That alone stops me.  And this is a friend:  what if I don't want the blogger to know who I am, because I'm worried about uninvited enewsletters, etc.? Anonymous commenting is not only faster for me, but protects me from this mess.

What about Anonymous comments?  That's for a different post on a different day.  


Finding the Time to Blog or Tweet: 30-Minute Social Media Marketing by Susan Gunelius Helps You

30-Minute Social Media Marketing by Susan Gunelius (available on Kindle) gives several excellent examples of implementing a social media strategy on a daily basis with a relatively short time commitment.

Read the book, and you've got the ground rules - along with lots of links to check out, tips to try, and tricks to streamline things. The 80/20 Rule is great. The Quick Tips throughout the text are good.

If your goal is to invest long-term in a social media marketing plan, or if you are just getting your feet wet at Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, this book is worth your investment of time and money.

There are two limitations, though:  first, times are changing so fast that some of the information is already dated. Of course, this isn't the writer's fault, but it does limit the usefulness of the book.

Second, I question some of the times within the schedules here - particularly for the newbie.  There are nifty schedules here, ready made for you, and that is a wonderful idea.  However, take for example Chapter 22's sample 30 Minute Marketing Plans where one plan has a mere 5 minutes allotted to write a post including an image.

Me?  I’m thinking 5 minutes to tweet (start to finish) seems reasonable - write the tweet, gather your hashtags, shorten the URL, edit as needed to meet that 140 character limit - but a quality blog post?

I dunno about that. Hasn't been my experience with my clientele - or with me. Still, tweaking and personalizing these schedules to fit the individual is an obvious need here.   Doesn’t mean that what’s provided here isn’t a great help. 

I recommend this book.


Notepad is a Great Kindle App

Notepad is a note taking tool for Kindle. It only costs 99 cents, and it's worth much more than a buck.

Why is Notepad so good?

It's fast. It's roomy. It's great when you're reading in your e-reader and you want to note something - whether it's from the book, or whether it's got nothing to do with the text you're reading.

Here's an example.  It's long past midnight.  I'm reading along in Grisham, and suddenly the thought pops up that I need to check that FedEx delivery: did it arrive? When was the deadline again?

Of course, Notepad is just as ready for you to jot down items for the grocery list or your calendar (anniversary, birthday) as it is something work-related.

Why is this better than the notepad in your nightstand drawer?

Notepad via Kindle allows you to take these notes and put them on your computer (and vice versa).  Plus, if you don't have that pad and paper next to the bed, Notepad means you don't have to get up and search for stuff. 

It's proven to be handy for me in my writing and I think you might find Notepad useful, too.