If you manage, or publish, any sort of online community, you are fully aware of the Arrogant Comment Trolls, who come into your home and poop all over the furniture because they feel is their blessed right to tell you how to think and what to do and they love trying to cut you down in your own forum.

Finding ways to press empathy into those emotional anonymous trolls is an ongoing wonderment, and the Civil Rights Defenders website created a unique way to make venomous commenters reconsider their purpose in posting their vile bile on your website by creating the “Empathy Captcha:”

A CAPTCHA is a test to tell wether a user is human or a computer. They mostly come in the form of distorted letters at the end of comments on news sites, blogs or in registration forms. Their main function is to prevent abuse from “bots” or automated programs written to generate spam. Civil Rights CAPTCHA is unique in its approach at separating humans from bots, namely by using human emotion. This enables a simpler and more effective way of keeping sites spam free as well as taking a stand for human rights.

With over 200 million CAPTCHAs being solved everyday, we hope that by catching a tiny amount of those interactions we can help promote and empower our partners – brave human rights defenders, who often put themselves at great risk through their engagement for other people’s rights.

Here’s how an “Empathy Captcha” works and looks like in action.

Instead of visually decoding an image of distorted letters, the user has to take a stand regarding facts about human rights. Depending on whether the described situation is positively or negatively charged, the CAPTCHA generates three random words from a database. These words describe positive and negative emotions. The user selects the word that best matches how they feel about the situation, and writes the word in the CAPTCHA. Only one answer is correct, the answer showing compassion and empathy.

I know it is sad that we need to use Captchas to help remind us of our humanity — but what other choice do we have an an ever-crassening world where rudeness and nastiness are the new greetings of a darkening day?

If we ever hope to become greater than ourselves alone together, then we need to find new ways to forge us as one again in a way that doesn’t impinge on personal liberty, but that also protects our civil rights.  Is it really that hard to be kind to each other?  I don’t think turning the the other cheek works very well today because we don’t have enough cheeks to turn to go around — I think it’s better to never have a situation where a cheek needs to be turned in the first place.

13 Comments

  1. Why does the ’emotion’ have to be politically based? It seems a question like that, although able to emote, is divisive to say the least. Or is the point culling the unwanted ones, as you noted above?
    Are you planning on doing this? Oy vey…..

    1. The emotion is based on testing support of Civil Rights. I agree it is a sad concern, in today’s political climate, that treating everyone equally is not guaranteed. That’s why we need these sorts of reminders on what proper behavior is when it comes to making sure everyone is included and respected.

      All our blogs are hosted on WordPress.com — so we are unable to use that Civil Rights commenting system.

      1. I didn’t have a whole bunch to say about the comment troll’s article because I couldn’t interject an educated opinion since I’ve never seen the show in question. I was amazed at the reaction that was posted. I hadn’t been watching that particular post until today.
        I find you and Gordon to be interesting conversationalists. I was taken aback at the venom the troll was spewing.

        1. That venom is really nothing new. We’re used to it now. Most of the nasty comments are removed and never published, but sometimes, it’s important to take a public stand and go against them in the light of day.

          There’s always one truth, though: The trolls think they’re right and you’re wrong — no matter what — and there are not here to have a conversation. They’re here to name call and yell and curse.

  2. I absolutely love the civil rights CAPTCHA’s. I think they have an important comment to make and, unless you are a facist lunatic, easy to solve. I have been having a lot of problems and frustrations with conventional CAPTCHA’s these days, I swear that they have got more difficult. I started using CAPTCHA bypass browser extension software called rumola to read them for me because they were really making commenting on blogs hard!

  3. You know it’s a difficult one this.

    On the one hand it’s quite interesting that they’re using emotion to detect if a person is a robot or not but I feel that perhaps the format needs a tweak. The question that was displayed in the screenshot is a great example.

    Now, please keep in mind I suffer with asperger’s syndrome. The world is painfully black and white to me. I write this with zero venom and as someone who is totally neutral. Not giving an opinion one way or the other.

    The term ‘civil rights’ essentially means equality and freedom for all, am I correct?

    So, the obvious answer to the question is that this is a positive thing so, enthusiastic.
    However, certain sects of society would almost certainly have a negative response to this. Is it wrong for them to do so? Is it not their right to disagree?

    We had a case here in the UK were a Christian couple were prosecuted for not allowing a gay couple to share a bed in their hotel/b&b.

    Both claimed their ‘rights’ were being violated. Who was in the wrong? Now most people are going to point the finger at the Christian’s because anti-religion is the order of the day at the moment but when you strip it down to basic rights it’s not so clear.

    Whichever side won, someone was indeed having their rights trodden on. The gay couple because they were being discriminated about were they could stay. And the Christian couple because the court effectively told them that their beliefs were meaningless, that they had to bend to the will of the LGBT community or suffer the consequences, putting the gay couple in a much higher stance. Neither option ends in equality.

    In a nut shell, the ‘Civil Captcha’ could work… they just need to re-think the questions.

    1. Civil Rights means everyone has a right to equal treatment in political and social realms.

      You cannot use your religion to punish someone because of who they are — just like you cannot punish someone for the color of their skin or the tenets of their faith.

      Let’s spin around the example you quote an say a Gay couple were running a bed and breakfast and a Fundamentalist couple needed to stay the night — not to protest or cause any harm — just to sleep and then leave… but that conservative couple was refused the right to pay to sleep there by the B&B just because they were Fundamentalists and didn’t support LGBT rights. Now who’s wrong?

      Civl Rights is about a common base of equality, respect and access for everyone no matter what you believe or who you hate or love — and the empathy Captcha test is pretty simple and effective in diving who is on board and who is not.

      1. Here’s an excellent current example of Civil Rights in action:

        The Department of the Navy has updated its policy to allow HIV-positive Sailors and Marines to be assigned overseas and on select large ship platforms. According to the LGBT military organization OutServe-SLDN, this policy shift represents “the biggest change in military HIV policy since the late 1980s when mass testing for HIV went into effect.”

        Before this year, HIV-positive members of the military were prohibited from stepping foot on foreign soil, even in times of peace and in non-combat zones — if they were allowed to continue serving at all. The previous policy allowed personnel with HIV to remain in the service if they were found to be in otherwise good health, but required they remain within the country to visit a military health care facility that hosts an infectious disease doctor every six months. With the new policy, Sailors and Marines will still visit a stateside medical facility every six months, but their career opportunities are no longer limited by an unnecessary travel ban. …

        This move demonstrates the Navy’s commitment to judging Sailors or Marines only according to their capabilities. But while the Navy has made significant progress in throwing out an antiquated policy, the other branches of the military have yet to evaluate the possibly discriminatory effects of their own overseas bans. The Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard risk should take every step to ensure the meritocratic spirit so characteristic of our Armed Forces is preserved, and that begins with a look at the policies which unduly hinder a service member’s career.

        http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/19/1213231/us-navy-ends-policy-preventing-hiv-positive-servicemembers-from-serving-overseas/