Are Complex Captchas Blocking Your Feedburner Email List?

Many bloggers use free Feedburner RSS to Email service to develop a RSS mailing list. But complex captchas could be ruining all your efforts by making it difficult for keen visitors to become your email RSS subscriber.

Solve Difficult Complex Captchas

We used the Feedburner email subscription tool for RSS email subscription for several years since 2006 when it launched. But after several complaints from users unable to solve the captchas, I tried to sign in on our email form, and this is the pop up which usually appears …

feedburner captcha

Is that an h or l and i?And I got the captcha wrong. Then I got another captcha, which again entered wrong. The alert advised me to relaod the window to get  a new captcha image.

wrong captcha

I kept on reloading to check the the variety of captchas, and though some were easy, many were too complex to be understood in one go. Below are some samples of difficult to solve image captchas.

feedburner captcha

difficult captcha

difficult captcha

Losing email subscribers

No one will be motivated to subscribe after 2 captchas wrong, however good the content maybe. I understand solving captchas are useful to identify humans from spam bots, but making captchas too difficult just defeats the purpose.

There is a need for double opt in of email subscribers to avoid spam mailings. I realized how difficult it is to subscribe to our site – enter email address in sidebar form > pop up asks for captacha > wrong text > New captacha > Lucky to get it right (or repeat with new captcha) > confirmation email sent > click confirmation link in your email.  If you really, really, really like our site so much, you might have gone through all that!

Google Feedburner Email services is a great free tool with lots of features, and we have been using them over several years, but losing subscribers due to complex difficult captchas is not a good idea. At least like Recaptcha (another Google service, which sometimes also has difficult captchas),  there should be clear refresh buttons to get new images, and a clear call for ‘clear audio’ output. I really hope Google takes all the right steps to improve this great Feedburner service, its a big asset to them, with millions of users.

Email to RSS Alternative Services

Meanwhile in search for an alternative email RSS tool, we gave a repeat try to Feedblitz (this does not affect current subscribers in any way), which was the initial popular rss to email service we used several years back and even have 280 loyal Feedblitz readers from 2006-2007! A guest author posted that Feedblitz seems better and Feedblitz is also quick to compare with Feedburner.  They present multiple options to subscribe, the management, features and email newsletter reporting stats also seem much better, but importantly have easier captachas.

feedblitz captcha

However, Feedblitz is not free (unlike the Google Feedburner List) and after a 30 day free trial, and charges based on number of subscribers, comparable to other email list services like Aweber, Mailchimp etc. But the pricing page reveals that if you are an old time blogger – “FeedBlitz ad-funded free services are available to existing free-service publishers with active newsletters created at FeedBlitz prior to January 1, 2009“. So we use it free.

What is your say on complex captcha issue? Post a comment.


  1. bob says:

    I’m not a big fan of captchas, I’m sure the effect the completion rate of every form they’re used on. The ones where you add to numbers are probably the best though.

  2. Todd Dowell says:

    I didn’t know it was so darn difficult to solve these captchas, lol. I don’t have as many subscribers as this blog, but im sure i have lost a whole lot of subscribers because of this error.

    I’m glad you pointed this out, because im going to fix this a.s.a.p.

    Thank You

  3. Senior says:

    I was not aware of the complexity of FeedBurner’s visual capture codes. I don’t think FeedBurner’s capture codes should be any more complex than the capture codes used by Blogger and other Google products.

    FeedBurner does offer audio capture codes for people who can’t solve the visual capture codes. The audio capture codes may be an easier alternative

  4. Tech Crates says:

    I am just fed up with this captchas….how nice it would be if they just integrate a check box !! like the GASP plugin

  5. Alfee says:

    It’s not just feedburner actually, which I don’t find too bad. I’ve been to other forums (can’t remember now) whose captchas are way unreadable! After 2 or 3 tries, I just give up.

  6. Phil Hollows says:

    Thanks for the mention. Worth noting that FeedBlitz premium publishers have an invisible captcha (no user interaction required), similar to the GASP plugin that Andy Bailey (@CommentLuv) designed on an idea of mine.

    So consider upgrading – your list will grow even faster.

    Phil Hollows
    Founder and CEO
    FeedBlitz, LLC

  7. Judy says:

    Is there anyway to contact Feedburner support, or is there any? I just tried 6 times to get past the captcha and post a comment on a blog post. The images were totally unreadable just like the examples in the beginning of this post. The audio version is even worse. It sounded like playing a cd on a broken player. I couldn’t even tell if the sound was English.

  8. Adam Greenberg says:

    Agreed. Let’s get Feedburner to drop the captcha

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