Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Every time a (non logged in) user posts a new topic or reply, they must fill out an anti-spam filter. Here's some info about CAPTCHAs.

A CAPTCHA is a program that can tell whether its user is a human or a computer. You've probably seen them — colorful images with distorted text at the bottom of Web registration forms. CAPTCHAs are used by many websites to prevent abuse from "bots," or automated programs usually written to generate spam. No computer program can read distorted text as well as humans can, so bots cannot navigate sites protected by CAPTCHAs.

reCAPTCHA is digitizing old NYTimes, and every time a user fills out a CAPTCHA you are helping. Logged in users do not need to fill out a CAPTCHA, but the vast majority of posts are made from users who are not logged in. Combining the total number of replies and topics, we can estimate the total number of successful CAPTCHAs at 799,087.

That's quite a number. If we figure an average of 10 seconds per CAPTCHA, that equals out to:

2,219.68 Hours
92.48 Days
55.5 Work Weeks (40 Hour)

It would have taken a human being, working 40 hours a week, over a year to do the same amount of reCAPTCHAs. That's kind of cool to think about. I wonder how many days/weeks of NYTimes we've helped digitize.

Take care,


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Common E-mail Themes

Addressing some common themes from e-mails:

We get e-mails every day asking us to remove posts. We almost always comply, and our system allows us to delete objectionable material very quickly while letting people check the status of their request. Often the e-mails are well written and courteous, but usually we see some combination of the following:

"You have 24 hours before I contact my attorney."
You don't have a lawyer. Roughly half the people who e-mail us claim to be "contacting their attorney." Sorry, but both of us know you don't have a lawyer, please quit pretending. And the fact that your uncle's friend is a lawyer doesn't count.

"I'm going to sue you."
No you're not... well, you're not going to win anyways. Feel free to try though, I guess. Actually, just kidding, please don't sue me.

"You're clearly a horrible person."
I certainly don't think so, but everyone is entitled to their opinions. Our site doesn't call for salacious gossip, we let students dictate discussion. While I concede that the level of discourse is nowhere I'd like it to be, I'm passionate about giving an open forum for discussion where people can share without fear of retribution.

"These sites are illegal, that's why JuicyCampus got shut down."
First of all, there's nothing illegal about running a site like this. Second of all, JuicyCampus was not shut down, they voluntarily closed due to lack of revenue. It had nothing to do with any legal pressure.

"Awesome site brah!"
Thanks, Joebin.

"Take off XYZ University, no one likes it here."
I don't think you speak for everyone; perhaps you and your friends don't like it.

Anyways, thought I'd address some common e-mail themes in a public space.

Take care,
Peter Frank

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ACB Blog

I'll be updating this blog much more frequently. I will also be allowing comments, and will try to respond to as many as possible.

Take care,
Peter Frank