SweetCaptcha – The Best WordPress Captcha Solution?

UPDATE – I no longer recommend SweetCaptcah due to the fact that it's been revealed that the plugin is used to distribute adware. You can read this Sucuri blog post to learn more about it. I would uninstall SweetCaptcha if you have it running.

Do you hate getting comment spam on your WordPress blog?  I just found a solution that might help anyone running a WordPress website, SweetCaptcha.  Honestly I think this is the BEST WordPress Captcha solution I have come across so far.  Even better than the widely used Akismet developed by Automattic (the company behind WordPress.)

What is Sweet Captcha?  Basically it is an imaged based captcha (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) solution that asks users to solve a puzzle.  While a lot of similar image based puzzle captchas I've seen are kind of annoying difficult and require too much thinking, SweetCaptcha keeps it simple.

sweetcaptchaDealing with spam comments can take up a lot of my time.  On one news website I help run we can receive thousands of spam comments every day. The reason for this is we get quite a lot of traffic now, and spammers obviously like targeting high traffic sites.  I decided to try out SweetCaptcha.  The result?  It has stopped the vast majority of spam comments.  There are still a couple that get through but the good majority are caught by Akismet.

In addition setting up Sweet Captcha was hella easy.  I just installed the plugin from the WordPress.org plugin repository, provided my email, then a few clicks later it was up and running.  Once I realized how great it worked on the news website, I installed it on several other WordPress sites I help maintain or run.

I've seen plenty of similar types of captcha solutions out there but usually they are complex and a pain to solve.  Most of these captchas are great for keeping spam bots from commenting but… it also makes it so that humans won't either.   Anything that takes a long time and is more hassle than they a potential comment thinks is worth it… someone probably is not leaving a comment.

Another type of captcha I hate, math.  I HATE math so having to solve a math problem is a big no-no in my book if you want me to comment on your website.  This shouldn't come as a surprise as most people hate math.  Clients I work with that have math based captchas I recommend they remove them immediately.  They always experience an increase in blog comments.  Why do you want less people to leave comments?  Sorry math nazis but people just don't like having to do math problems when leaving comments.

Honestly just as bad as math problems would be reCaptcha.  This came from the useless minds at Google that only think of things how engineers would like them, not real people.  Can anyone seriously read a what those words say?  The problem is a lot of sites use reCaptcha, ugh.

Anyway, having to go in and delete WordPress spam comments in my websites is time consuming every day.  So I figure SweetCaptcha will save me at least 1 hour or more a month since I won't have to do this on all my WordPress blogs.

My concern with SweetCaptcha, like most, is this might be too complex for some people to solve.  There should be some complexity though to keep the spammers out.

Some of you might be checking the comments below and be wondering, “Hey, why isn't Adam using SweetCaptcha?”  This site is run on a WordPress Multisite installation and I could not get the plugin configured to work.  🙁  Still I'm going to use SweetCaptcha on all my standalone WordPress sites.  That is until I find a better WordPress spam fighting tool.

Like most WordPress plugins SweetCaptcha is completely free.  The developers take donations to help support development and have some premium options so you can your own puzzles or strip out “Powered by SweetCaptcha.”  You can add several sites to one account email address as well.

If you have a forum, e-commerce, or some other type of site you can still use SweetCaptcha. It can be installed custom PHP pages and Javascript applications.  They had a Joomla plugin but it looks like development was abandoned.  The main market they are going after does seem to be WordPress users.

Visit the website here –

If you've tried out SweetCaptcha I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.  Do you love it or hate it?  Do you think it is the best WordPress captcha solution?

Anything you wish would be improved?  If not do you think you will try it out?

Google Publisher Plugin for WordPress

google publisher plugin

Google a few days ago announced the Google Publisher Plugin for WordPress.  The goal of the new WordPress plugin from Google is to make it easier and more efficient to integrate Google products into the WordPress platform.

The new plugin can be installed for those that run a self-hosted WordPress blog.  The Google Publisher Plugin for WordPress is not available for those that run WordPress.com though, which should give you another reason to switch to a self-hosted website if you have not thought about it before.

This first iteration of the Google Publisher Plugin supports 2 products by the search giant for seamless integration with WordPress:

Google AdSense

The Google Publisher Plugin allows webmasters and site owners to linkup a WordPress site directly with an AdSense account.  Thus making it easier to place Google ads on a WordPress site without needing to manually modify any HTML code which a lot of people seem to be allergic too.

Google Webmaster Tools

With the Google WordPress plugin you can verify a site on Google Webmaster Tools with just one click.  As opposed to needing to manually upload a verification file in a folder with your host.  Sometimes this can be annoying and I've had issues where I've uploaded the verification file and it didn't work.  Happy to see that Google now has a WP plugin to do this more easily in case of any issues.

Google Publisher Plugin

This is an extremely smart move on Google's part since WordPress powers about 19% percent of the web.  (This statistic is from the 2013 State of the Word.)  It's good for them to directly support the Google Publisher Plugin since so many people love and use WordPress everyday.  This shows that the world's most popular blogging and content management system is only getting stronger.

I'm sure the other benefit for Google besides making customers happy is data collection.  They will probably gain a lot of insight into how people interact with Google's products via their websites and use that data to improve their search engines.

The downside to this news is for other search engines that compete with Google and WordPress developers.  It will be interesting to see if other search engines adopt Google's lead with maintaining and developing a WP plugin.  I imagine that Bing would want to develop a plugin too.  WP developers that build plugins for Google integration and ad rotation placement may not be pleased with this announcement. It's Google stepping on WP developers toes a little bit.

Keep in mind that the Google Publisher Plugin for WordPress is currently in beta, meaning they have not worked out all the kinks and bugs.  They want people to test it out and report feedback on how it works on your site(s).  If you are interested in downloading the plugin visit the WordPress.org plugin directory and search for it.

Have any thoughts about the Google WordPress plugin?  Let me know below.

WordPress 3.8 Parker features an Updated WordPress Dashboard

WordPress 3.8 Parker was released only a few days ago on December 12th, 2013 and the latest iteration of the world's most popular blogging and content management system has just gotten a major backend design update.  Checkout the refresh below when I updated one of my other websites, CarNewsCafe.

WordPress 3.8 Oscar

wordpress 3.8 parkerThe new WordPress dashboard and backend is much cleaner and seems to be more inline with how a lot of WordPress themes look nowadays.  I imagine this is not a coincidence on the part of Automattic, the company that handles WordPress development.

The new backend uses Open Sans font, which most people probably didn't know about but it works well in the WordPress dashboard.  The idea is to make things less cluttered and easier to read and manage.  In addition icons have been updated and they are now vector based which means they can scale to your screen.  That means they load faster and work better.

Dashboard Color Schemes

wordpress dashboard color schemeIn addition to the udpated look you now have options in terms of what colors you want the WordPress dashboard to look like.  There are currently 8 options to choose from which includes Default, Light, Blue, Coffee, Ectoplasm, Midnight, Ocean, and Sunrise.  The idea is to provide more options and better contrast to be easier on the eyes for WordPress users and admins.

If you have a WordPress website that a lot of different people access, a user can individually choose what WordPress dashboard color scheme they prefer.  A pretty cool update to the backend.

WordPress Twenty Fourteen ‘Magazine' Theme

wordpress twenty fourteenFor WordPress 3.8 Parker there is also a new theme called Twenty Fourteen (2014).  It has the layout of a magazine which seems to be what a lot of people use WordPress for.  The new theme is by far the cleanest default WordPress theme Automattic has come out with.

Other WordPress 3.8 Improvements

In addition to all these cool updates to WordPress 3.8 Parker there are several other nice updates.  This includes better theme management which allows you to see more advanced previews of themes you might want to switch to.  Also the widget menu is easier to handle.

It seems that the WordPress team also has improved the functionality of WordPress for mobile phones and tablets.  Creating and managing posts should be easy no matter what device you are using now.

There are other WordPress tweaks you might notice too.  For instance if you check your plugins page eeactivted plugins are highlighted in white while active plugins are in blue.  (I personally find this confusing.)  Also there is no “Quickpress” in the WordPress dashboard anymore and in it's place you will find a “Quick Draft” box.

wordpress quick draftAt first I was apprehensive about the WordPress 3.8 update since I've been using WordPress for awhile.  Automattic didn't change too much and they make ease-of-use a top priority unlike a lot of other open source software.  After a few days I really like the updated WordPress dashboard and backend.  It is definitely faster and snappy and I imagine that Automattic developers worked hard on improving the WordPress core code to achieve this in addition to reworking the design.  Kudos to everyone that contributed to WordPress 3.8 Parker.

By the way WordPress 3.8 was codenamed “Parker ” after the great Alto saxophone player, Charlie Parker.  Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, likes to use Jazz musicians to codename WordPress releases since he is Alto saxophone player.  WordPress 3.6 Oscar was named for Oscar Peterson and WordPress 3.7 Basie was named after Count Basie.  Matt Mullenweg and these these other Jazz giants might be great musicians but they don't have singing dogs. 🙂

If you haven't updated you WordPress website(s) or blog(s) to WordPress 3.8 I would recommend you do it to enjoy the new features.  I would encourage you to make a backup of your WordPress installations before you pupated though.   You never know what might happen in an update and it is always a smart precaution.

If you are used WordPress 3.8 Parker are you thoughts about the updated and new dashboard?  Do you love it or hate it?

WordPress 3.7 Basie comes packed with Automatic Updates, Improved Search, & better Foreign Language Support

WordPress 3.7 Basie was just released and while they are not as many upgrades to WordPress 3.7 as there was in WordPress 3.6, the world's most popular content management system (CMS) just keeps getting better and better.  New and notable features in WordPress 3.7 Basie includes;

wordpress 3.7 basie

Automatic WordPress Updates

Maintenance and security releases in WordPress 3.7 are automatic and most sites will be able to apply updates in the background.  Wordpress updates are also now a lot more secure and reliable, according to Automattic developers, with new checks and safeguards.

Some configurations will still require more manual updates though.  System administrators and WordPress developers can fine tune controls though for major releases and automatic plugin updates.  This should save a lot of people time and hassle.

WordPress Search Results Improved

If you are using the WordPress search system to find posts and content on your website and have been frustrated with the fact it sorts articles by date, they've changed it.  Search queries are based on how well the keywords match the relevant content and post titles and now will not be sorted by dates.

Advanced search queries are also supported.  What does that mean?  Only want to see posts that went love on specific date or date range?  This will make finding older content a lot easier.

Stronger Passwords

Wordpres password meter

Having a strong password is important and WordPress developers thinks so too.  The WordPress password meter has been updated in WordPress 3.7 to recognize popular mistakes that can weaken a site's password.  What does this include?  Names, keyboard patterns (123456789), and even pop culture references will be considered “Weak” under the WordPress password meter now.

Better WordPress Support in Foreign Languages

Do you speak another language besides English?  You will be happy to hear that WordPress will receive faster and more complete translations in foreign languages.  WordPress 3.7 has added support for automatically installing the correct language files and keeps these language files updated.  This make it easier to manage a WordPress site in a foreign language for millions of WordPress users around the world.  “Parlez vous Francais?”

WordPress Multisite

wp_get_sites()

Allows those running WordPress Multisite installations allows developers and administrators of large WP Multisite installations to get an idea of all the sites on the network.  This makes so that you do need to do do a direct database query to get that information.

WordPress 3.7 Basie

wordpress 3.7

It should be noted that WordPress 3.7 Basie is named in honor of the Jazz great Count Basie.   Since Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, is a Jazz saxophone player this isn't surprising.  WordPress 3.6 Oscar was codenamed after the Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

What's impressive about the WordPress 3.7 launch is the timetable of it's release.  Wordpress 3.6 was unveiled at the 2013 State of the Word at released at the beginning of August, 2013.   For WordPress 3.8 Automattic anticipates it will release in December which is just 2 months away.

What do you think of WordPress 3.7 Basie?  Are you hoping for any new features in WordPress 3.8?

2013 State of the Word with Matt Mullenweg

state of the word
Matt Mullenweg giving the 2013 State of the Word

The 2013 State of the Word was recently presented at WordCamp San Fransisco.  State of the Word is an annual presentation given by Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress.  He talks about the developments and progress WordPress has made in the past year and the future plans and hopes for the platform.

Even if you don't personally use WordPress and use another content management system (Joomla, Drupal, etc) it is still good to watch the State of the Word's to know what is going on with WordPress. Keep in mind WordPress is the largest content management system (CMS) out there and is getting more popular and more powerful everyday.  I don't see this trend changing anytime soon and I don't think any other CMS can catch-up with it's rapid development.

So what is new with WordPress?  Apparently the Automattic team has reworked the plugin review system.  “Now all ratings are attached to reviews.” commented Mullenweg.  Essentially this means nobody can give you 1-star without saying why they think it deserves that rating.  Also the plugin author can now respond in a thread to a negative review.  If the plugin improves a reviewer can change it.  Matt Mullenweg did many 1-star reviews have been changed to 5-star reviews.

Another interesting development is that there will be a WordPress book coming out soon.  According to Matt Mullenweg it will the first book to be written on Github, which is for sharing coding databases.

There was also talk about the fact that WordPress will start to become not just a blog/CMS platform but an application platform.  Automattic will be focusing more on becoming a developer resource (developer.wordpress.org). Mullenweg thinks of WordPress as a platform that with different building blocks such as a CMS, blog, or e-commerce blocks you can build in or take out as you need.

Matt also talked about the MP6 plugin project within Automattic.  I have never heard of this but apparently it changes the user interface administration in the backend of WordPress.   You can change colors, it is responsive, and it looks pretty slick from what I could tell.

WordPress 3.8 apparently will feature Luke Skywalker and Automattic hopes to release it sometime in December this year (I think).  Mullenweg also said he would like to start releasing the default WordPress theme like automakers.  (Automakers release the new model before the year even starts often.)

At the time WordCamp San Francisco took place WordPress 3.6 was not released but was on August 1st, 2013.  WordPress 3.6 “Oscar” was named after Oscar Peterson, the great Jazz pianist.  In State of the Word 2013 Matt Mulleweg highlighted some of the rising “WordPress rockstars” as he called it that have helped with it's continued development.  They did show the video for WordPress 3.6 (which I am running now) and it is sweet!

“Be the change with WordPress.” said Mullwenweg at the end of the presentation.  He really encourages people to get involved with helping out in the WordPress community.

You can watch the State of the Word right here or by visiting WordPress.TV.  There was also a Q&A session after the State of the Word presentation.

Some of the most interesting parts of Matt's State of the Word presentations is when he mentions the growth of WordPress along with some WordPress Stats and numbers. I've tried to organize them here;

WordPress Stats

  • 18.9% of the web now runs on the WordPress platform.  This is a 2.2% increase from last year.  (Matt mention it should be as popular as Justin Bieber.)
  • 46 million WordPress downloads from (46,355,774) in the last year.  175,000 everyday.  (That number does not include automatic scripts installations only downloads from WordPress.org.)
  • In a WPEngine survey they asked US adults, “Have you heard of WordPress?” 29.7% of survey respondents said “Yes.”
  • 336 WordPress Themes were added to the directory this year.  That is 2.3 as many as last year. Impressive considering each theme goes through a theme review process.
  • 1,500 people were active in WordPress Core development over the past year.
  • 30,000 respondents from 178 different countries took part in the WordPress survey.  “Community” and “ease-of-use” are what people like the best about WordPress.  The least?  “Plugins” are the least favorite along with “updates” and “security.”
  • 15 updates for the WordPress mobile apps were released.  There were 3 updates for iOS, 6 for Android, and 6 for Windows phones.  (Who wants a Windows phone?)
  • Make.wordpress.org blogs have received 10,945 posts and comments in 2012, which is double the amount since last year.
  • 50,000 blogs that were created 7 days ago on WordPress.com will be active today.  That is only a 96% rate of attrition rate of bloggers.  They believe this number is higher for WordPress.org users because of the extra steps.  Since you have to buy a domain, hosting, and setup a few things yourself.

WordPress Plugin States

  • Over 40,000 plugins have been relaunched.
  • 9,334 plugins requested to be reviewed in the past year and 6,758 were approved for the WordPress plugin directory by Automattic.
  • There are now 26,000 WordPress plugins in the directory.

WordPress Usage

  • 98% of people use WordPress on web.
  • 31% use WordPress on an iPad or iPhone
  • 30% use Android mobile phones
  • 18% Android tablets
  • 13% Desktop Apps

What do you use WordPress for?

  • 69% use WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS)
  • 20% Blog/CMS
  • 6% as a Blog
  • 7% as an App platform (new entry this year)

WordCamp Stats

  • 314 WordCamps have been held to date
  • 72 WordCamps have taken place in the past year.
  • 1,026 people have given talks at WordCamp over the past year.
  • Videos of WordCamp presentations on WordPress.TV have been viewed 1.4 million times.  So you better prepare a good talk at WordCamp! 🙂

WordPress 10th Anniversary

WordPress 3.6 Oscar gets Groovy New Features

WordPress 3.6 Oscar was released at the beginning of August and as with every new WordPress iteration, the most popular content management system (CMS) just keeps getting better and better.  Leaving those other CMS frameworks behind. (cough, Joomla, cough, Drupal.)

Checkout this video that Automattic, the company behind WordPress, released to showcase the new features and updates with WordPress 3.6 Oscar.  The video made it's debut at the 2013 State of the Word presentation at WordCamp San Francisco which is given my Matt Mullenwegg, the creator of WordPress each year.

As you can see there have been quite a lot of updates going on behind-the-scenes with WordPress.  Notable new features include;

Article Locking

wordpress post lockingOn WordPress sites with many users you will now see the above screen if you try to edit an article another user is working on.  It's helpful for blogs and news sites that have many concurrent users.  This prevents someone from correcting styling changes or typos the original author might know is there but hasn't had a chance to go in and fix yet.  Saving time and hassle for everyone.

For those that are the sole writer on their blogs or website, this isn't a feature that you will find useful I assume.   Of course you might in the future.

wordpress article locking

Better Revision Control

If an editor does take over a post you can always see who is editing with live updates in the list of posts.  WordPress 3.6 also separates versions revisions by different authors so you know who wrote what.

WordPress 3.6 Oscar makes seeing your own revisions easy by highlighting text in snazzy colors.  You can also go back in time and compare different versions of your article to see what you like and didn't like.  This should allow you to be confident to explore and have writing freedom but gives you piece of mind you can still retrieve an old post if you liked it better.

Autosave

WordPress now automatically Autosaves posts so worrying about losing that great paragraph you wrote is not a concern anymore.  Your content is safe whether your power goes out or you accidentally navigate away from your post.

Default Theme – Twenty Thirteen

Automattic has released a new default theme named Twenty Thirteen.  The idea to to put the focus on content by having a single column.  The design is inspired by modern art and has great fonts, bold colors, and a flexible layout.  In addition the theme is more mobile optimized and should look great on any device whether that is your desktop, mobile phone, or tablet.

Media Embedding and Support

wordpress 3.6 oscarThis is probably what most WordPress bloggers and users are most happy about with WordPress 3.6 I imagine.  There is improved media support and embedding with a built in HTML5 media player now.  This makes uploading files to your site and embedding them in posts a lot easier in WordPress 3.6 Oscar.  All you do is paste the URL where the MP3 or video files is located, and boom, you are done.  This means all those plugins you used to need to use to attach MP3 files are not really needed anymore.  Also you can now embed music from SoundCloud, Spotify, and Rdio.  (No, that is not a typo in case you are wondering.)

WordPress 3.6 Oscar

Well there are a lot of other great features in WordPress 3.6 that I could go on about these are the most important ones that most people will use I assume.  I could go on and on about new improvements and how awesome WordPress is.  It's just awesome they keep making Groovy changes and updates..

What do you think of WordPress 3.6 Oscar?  Do you love the new features?  If yes, what is your favorite new feature and why?

[Source – WordPress News Blog]