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Michiel Hendriks
Michiel Hendriks

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hCaptcha instead of Google's reCaptcha

CAPTCHA means Completely Automated Public Turing-test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It is a vital feature to keep spam bots away from your site.

Years ago everybody wrote their own system, usual a picture containing an obscured word or number. But technology of the spammers also improved and these methods would no longer stop them. Some smart people invented reCAPTCHA, which was based on solving problems computers were not really good at. As with most useful and popular technology this was bought by a large tech company, in this case Google.

We all know Google and their primary business: selling advertisements. One of their ad-platform's major selling point is targeted advertisements based on information they harvested about the website visitors.

If you want to run a privacy minded website you obvious want as little technology on which invades on your visitors privacy. There are many alternatives for various Google products.

On one of my websites I removed Google Ads, because I did not earn much from it anyway. I removed Google Analytics, because I was not looking at it anyway. But, I was still using reCAPTCHA to fend of spammers.

Yesterday I saw a blogpost from Cloudflare on how they moved from reCAPTCHA to hCaptcha. So there is also an alternative for the last Google product I had on my site. Today I started all the work to move to hCaptcha.

hCaptcha is basically the same as reCAPTCHA, with some major differences:

  • They respect the privacy of your visitors.
  • The problems visitors solve are not for the benefit of a single company.
  • You can earn money, or donate it, by visitors solving these problems.

So now the difficult part: moving away from reCAPTCHA to hCaptcha. All the steps you need to perform to convert are detailed in the documentation. It basically required me to perform three replace-all actions, and updating two settings to covert my existing reCAPTCHA implementation to hCaptcha. I think it cost me almost 30 minutes to execute and verify! Yes, it took me more time to write this article.

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