Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Are Negative CAPTCHAs Any More Accessible?

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by Glenda at 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 5, 2009

An example of a difficult to read CAPTCHA This morning I sat down to finish writing the “Do CAPTCHAs prevent your readers from commenting?” section for my upcoming ebook Web Accessibility for Bloggers. CAPTCHAs (short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) pose many accessibility issues.

I recalled that, in a previous post about web accessibility, a reader offered negative CAPTCHAs – whereby spambots must prove they are bots rather than requiring humans prove they are indeed human when leaving blog comments – are accessible alternative. I googled negative CAPTCHAs to learned more about this alternative and started with Damien Katz’s Negative CAPTCHA.

Reading through the comments, which can be more informative and insightful, the following points were mentioned:

  • “a legitimate user on a browser which either doesn’t support or doesn’t have CSS enabled could fall for it”;
  • some browsers auto fill form fields and, thus, could conceivably fill in the hidden field;
  • a smart programmer could program bots to look for the hidden CSS tags and discard those field responses;
  • screen readers (software used by individuals with sight impairments) vary widely in how they react to hidden or invisible information as demonstrated by  Bob Easton’s research results (note: you would want a n/n for this instance);
  • “if you’re hiding a form field called "e-mail" from stupid bots, why not also include some explanatory text like "if you’re a human, don’t type anything in here–its just a trick to weed out spambots." sighted users will see nothing ’cause you’ve used js/css to hide the whole thing but the blind or people using lynx will read/hear an explanation.”

The discussion continued, but by then my eyes were spinning in their sockets and I was desperately craving chocolate! All I wanted to know was whether negative CAPTCHAs are accessible. Once again i was reminded that accessibility isn’t always a clear cut yes or no, but rather a continuum, which my clients always hate hearing.

So, I am taking the question to my brilliant and insightful people: Are negative CAPTCHAs any more accessible? Are they an appropriate alternative to the distorted characters in images used for blocking spam? If a blogger is using a good spam engine, such as Askimet, and requiring that the first comment of new readers be moderated (with an accompanying “Your comment is awaiting moderation” message – coming soon to this blog), is there even a need for CAPTCHAs to keep spam off blogs?

What are your thoughts on this topic?


A captcha with an audio feature Putting the ebook aside for the day, I next checked my email. In there was Viddler’s monthly newsletter announcing the release of its newest version, including “Captcha on forums” – like that is a good thing?! <insert sound of web accessibility consultant banging her head against the wall>

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Are Spider Plant Babies Better than SEO?

Filed under: Blogging — by Glenda at 8:47 pm on Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Last night I wrote a post, sharing my experience with feeling overwhelmed and the search for a well-balanced and meaningful life. When I began writing, I had a vague direction for the post, but I didn’t have a clear message or lesson that I wanted to teach. I let the words flow in the direction they wanted to.

When I was at the end, I briefly considered adding an image for eye candy and then decided to allow the words stand on their own. I hit publish at 11:46pm, tweeted about the post and went to bed.

By the time I turned on my computer this morning, there were already comments from four readers (including one new reader), an email response from a colleague, two people had retweeted about the post, three people had tweeted about my blog, a reader in Japan had bought me a cup (or two) of coffee, a copywriter’s offer for free assistance with the pending ebook on web accessibility for bloggers, and the blog traffic was spiking. Wow! What amazing results in less than twelve hours!

The blog's visits and page views for the last 30 days, with today's traffic beginning to spike by 1:34pm.

But why? The post wasn’t that spectacular. There were no images, no lists, no hyperlinks, no subheadings, no mention of blogosphere rock stars, and no contests. The title wasn’t even snazzy – it was slapped on before hitting publish. I definitely didn’t use any keywords. These are all strategies for increasing traffic and search engine optimization (SEO).

What was it that garnered such results?

Writing coach Joanna Young nailed the reason in a Twitter conversation:

Joanna YoungI think you managed to make your personal experience universal – something we could all relate to

Glenda Watson HyattThanks Joanna. One of those posts that wanted to be written. You know how that is, I’m sure. ;)

Joanna YoungI do, and of course, those are the ones we respond to… we ‘hear’ you. Plus there were the spider plant babies… :-)

Mentioning spider plant babies did it? Had I only known…!

But seriously, as Joanna points out, I shared a personal experience that most people are experiencing. Who isn’t feeling overwhelmed by the amounts on their plates these days?

I wrote from my heart, my truth in that moment. I wrote to share but also to reflect. I didn’t feel the need to go searching for distractions while forcing out words. The words flowed through my left thumb. When those moments occur while writing, that is when writing is enjoyable, liberating and authentic. To me, that is what blogging is meant to be.

While writing yesterday’s post, I wasn’t concerned about using keywords or SEO. I wasn’t writing for search engines; search engines don’t connect and engage with thoughts, emotions and ideas. The amazing results named above are not due to search engines and page rankings, but thanks to people.  People connect and engage. People comment, tweet and stumble.

To engage readers, share your truth, write authentically and include a few spider plant babies.

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If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Finding Balance and Meaning with Limited Energy

Filed under: Living with a disability, Motivation — by Glenda at 11:46 pm on Monday, March 2, 2009

Many moons ago, my only roles were daughter, sister, friend and student. With my particular cerebral palsy, every task in daily life takes extra effort and energy, and my pool of energy is finite. When I use energy in one task,  I have less for the next one. In fact, my speech therapist disliked when physio was scheduled first. I always arrived to her therapy room with my energy zapped.

In high school, I didn’t take a full course load so that I could keep up with the work load. Grades 11 and 12 took me three years to complete – something I wasn’t thrilled about, but it was the only way I could keep up without being completely drained and while still maintaining decent grades. That 8.75 hours for the Algebra 12 provincial and scholarship exams was brutal!Summers were for recovering and relaxing.

Next came university while living on campus, alone. For the most part, I received only four hours of homemaking assistance per week. The cooking, daily cleaning and paying bills became my responsibility, as well as being a student. Yet I wasn’t given any extra energy. Semester breaks were spent sleeping and vegging. By taking one or two courses per semester, including summer semesters, I completed my Bachelors of Arts in seven years, barely sane.

Since then, I have added the roles of wife, homeowner, aunt, in-law, author, book promoter, blogger, solopreneur, volunteer treasurer, mentor and countless other roles that escape me at the moment. Yet I still working with that same finite pool of energy. That line about exercising creates energy is pure bunk!

Several times in recent years I have felt that I was drowning, that I couldn’t keep up, that no matter how late Into the night I worked, it wasn’t enough.

Last week I was hitting that point again. Inhaling my two squares of dark chocolate was becoming earlier and earlier in the afternoon, and even that wasn’t doing the trick. I was tired and completely drained. The mere thought of attending the day and a half long Board meeting, for which I’m the Treasurer, brought on a nap!

The next three months are extremely full and busy (for my energy levels) and I cannot get sick now, which tends to happened when I am over tired. After talking with Mom and my friend, and tormenting myself for a few days with indecision, I decided to submit my Treasurer’s report and regrets via email, and I bailed on the Board meeting!

I thought I would spend the weekend feeling guilty for not honoring my volunteer commitment. But, instead, I felt freed!

I went offline from Friday afternoon until mid-afternoon today. No emailing, no blogging, no tweeting, no googling for three days!

Conquering Mount Laundry and finishing reading February’s issue of O Magazine in February were my accomplishments this weekend. And, that was enough for me! Reading in bed during the day felt so luxurious.

I realized that I could spend 24/7 at my computer, writing, networking, strategizing, mentoring and still not get done everything I want to, ought to and need to. But, really, is that a well-balanced and meaningful life? Is that the most efficient use of my finite energy?

I realized that the ebook on web accessibility for bloggers may not be ready to launch at SOBCon 09 – business school for bloggers in May in Chicago. Although that would be disappointing, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I would survive!

I realized that there are other things I would like to do that aren’t done at the computer. My spider plant is finally having babies. I’d like to pot them and then macreme a hanging pot holder for my mother-in-law for Christmas. I haven’t macremed in years! I’d like to spend time with my local friends. I’d like to go on outings with my aunt now that she has electric scooter and is independently mobile again.

I’d like to have a part of my life that is lived away from my computer. I’d like to have a life where I don’t feel like I am constantly struggling to keep up.

For now, I realize I am tired. I am going to publish this post and go to bed. Everything else can wait until tomorrow. G’night and sweet dreams!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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