(Obligatory Monty Python reference.)
The enabling of the Captcha word verification thing seems to have been 100% effective. In the last 48 hours I haven't had a single spam comment. On recent experience, I would have expected between 50 and 100 spam parcels to arrive in my inbox in that time, all to be read (quickly, but carefully, just in case there is a diamond among the turds) and deleted. It's not that the process took very long to accomplish, it's that I had to do it at all. And there was the additional disappointment of seeing eight new items in my email, looking forward to reading either an interesting comment or a kind email from a 'regular', and seeing a whole column of 'anonymous'. Perhaps it's a little vain or selfish, but I value comments and emails relating to the blog, and even after nearly three years blogging I still get a slight rush when someone bothers to put finger to keyboard in relation to something I have said.
I'm going to give it a week or two and then disable the WV thing. I'm hoping that I will have fallen off someone's list of 'easy' blogs and perhaps some kind of normality will return. I'm just hoping the spammers don't read this paragraph.
Regarding Captcha itself: yes, it is an abomination, but it works. The WV system needs to be difficult enough to delay and deter commercial commenters, whose whole effort must hinge upon banging off comments across the blogosphere by the thousand, and yet not be so irritating and/or impossible to deter someone writing a genuine comment. So far, I think Captcha have the balance wrong. If I have written a comment on someone's blog, I don't mind going through a mild set of hoops to 'prove I am human', but Captcha can be so impenetrable that it needs several attempts to get it right - and after this, sometimes the text of the comment has disappeared*. When this has happened, I have rarely got the energy to start all over again. I give up and have a cup of tea instead. I don't blame anyone who feels the same way. But I can't deny that it has put an effective barrier up against non-genuine commenters, and for that I am grateful.
Please keep the comments coming, though. If the thought of going through Captcha appals you, pop your comment in an email (under Contact, top right) and I will publish it for you. That's far less work for me than ploughing through hundreds of turds each week. I appreciate each and every (genuine) comment.
* see comments to the previous post for a suggestion from Microdave on how to beat this if you are a FireFox user.