Defeating reddit’s CAPTCHA

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Here’s something we’re sure SEO specialists, PR reps, and other marketeers already know: how to write a script to game reddit.

The course of upvotes and downvotes controls which submission makes it to the front page of reddit. These submissions are voted on by users, and new accounts must log in and complete a CAPTCHA to vote. [Ian] discovered that reddit’s CAPTCHA is not really state-of-the-art, and figured out how to get a bot to solve it

The method exploits the 8-bit nature of the distorted grid in the CAPTCHA. Because this grid isn’t pure black or pure white, it’s at a lower intensity than the letters in the CAPTCHA. Putting the CAPTCHA through a threshold filter, deleting any blocks of pixels smaller than 20 pixels, and running it through a classifier (PDF there), a bot can guess what the letters of the CAPTCHA should be.

Out of the 489 CAPTCHAs [Ian] fed into his algorithm, only 28 – or 5.73% – were guessed correctly. However, because he knows which CAPTCHAs had failed segmentation, ignoring those can increase the success rate to 10%. Theoretically, by requesting new CAPTCHAs, [Ian] can get the accuracy of his CAPTCHA bot up to about 30%.

Combine this with a brilliant auto voting script that only requires someone to enter CAPTCHAs, and you’ve got the recipe for getting anything you want directly to the front page of reddit. Of course you could do the same with a few memes and pictures of cats, but you knew that already.

Karma Controller makes Reddit a game

karma-controller-reddit

[Will] likes Reddit so much he built this dedicated controller that lets him play the social website like a video game.

He calls it he Karma Controller. In this case, ‘Karma’ refers to ability to accumulate a large number of net up-votes on a Reddit post. The device features seven buttons which are all it takes to up and down vote, navigate up and down on the Reddit listings, toggle images, as well as open and close new tabs for the comments section. We’re wondering if it allows you to follow a link to the post source too?

One of the reasons that we’re featuring this is that it’s only [Will's] second electronics project. If you’re still reluctant to get your hands dirty we hope this acts as inspiration. He started by building the first version on a hunk of protoboard. The Digispark microcontroller seen at the top reads from his button network and communicates with the computer via USB. Once the design was proven he had some help etching this circuit board which is version 2. He shows it off in the clip after the jump.

If you just want some buttons for voting you should take a look at this project which includes a 3D printed enclosure and button covers.

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Physical orangered notifies you of Reddit messages

Anyone who has been around Reddit enough to anger the hive mind is familiar with the orangered, the envelope icon right next to your username that lights up in a beautiful orangered hue whenever you receive a new message. [Brad] wanted an orangered that was a little more visible, so he created a standalone Reddit message indicator to sit on his desk and light up whenever a new message has been delivered.

The case for [Brad]‘s new orangered notifier was taken from a cheap thrift store clock. After dispensing of the mechanical movement, [Brad] loaded up the beautiful wooden case with an Arduino, a trio of LEDs, a speaker, and, of course, a small envelope logo reminiscent of Reddit’s message icon.

The Arduino is connected to a laptop running this Perl script. The script scrapes the JSON returned from the Reddit API and sends a command over the serial port to the Arduino if new messages have been received (source for the Arduino and the notes.h header file). When a new message is received, the Arduino lights up the envelope icon and plays a short sound on the attached speaker.

There are a few improvements [Brad] plans to add to his orangered indicator. First up is getting an Ethernet shield and discarding the server attached to the Arduino. Next up is different lights and tones for different types of messages (PMs, comment replies, and mod mail). Of course the top of our list for [Brad]‘s future improvements is actually making the LEDs orangered, but it’s still a very awesome build to allow [Brad] to waste even more time on the Internet’s time sink.

Video after the break.

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Hackaday AMA happening right now at Reddit.

Our AMA is live right now.  Come ask us questions. You can ask here in our comments too, but frankly the Reddit system is better for at length nested discussion.

Items to be discussed:

-how to submit your story to hackaday

-our new template coming soon

USB Reddit Upvote/Downvote button

reddit_upvote_downvote_button

[Chris] has recently become a self-declared Reddit addict and wanted to build something that would streamline the process of voting on posts. Inspired by the Awesome Button hack featured on Make a little while back, he thought that a physical upvote/downvote button would be the ideal peripheral for all of his Reddit needs.

He was a big fan of using the Reddit Enhancement Suite, which allows you to submit votes with a single keystroke. He combined this browser extension with a Teensy development board, and had his voting button prototyped in no time. Once he fine-tuned the Arduino sketch that he used to emulate the required keypresses, he got busy building a case for his creation.

He busted out his 3D printer and had a custom working project box in about 30 minutes. He printed arrows for the upvote and downvote buttons, snapped everything together, and then gave his quick vote box a spin. Everything worked perfectly, and he’s quite happy with his creation.

We imagine that our resident Reddit addict in chief is pretty jealous right about now…

Stick around if you’d like to see a time lapse video of the button’s creation.

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Hackaday in the social tangle

Like any other organization out there, we’re always trying to find new ways to reach our audience. Admittedly, we’re not the fastest when it comes to adopting a new social communication site. We’re working on it though, trying to be a bit more interactive … or just plain active.

So, if you’re looking for other ways to get your hacking fix, or see some interesting commentary, find us on facebook, twitter, our own forums, and now G+. We just signed up to G+ and our name is “Hackie Smith”. If you need an invite, email us at theofficialhackaday@gmail.com see below.   Sometimes there’s good discussion in those places that doesn’t end up here on the site.

You can also find several of us spattered across the web in sites like Reddit and Slashdot.

[Update: Our g+ page got shut down. Feel free to find any of the writers on g+. I'll give out invites, look for "Caleb Kraft" or 60mango@gmail]

Reddit hacking for votes and profit

Looks like someone figured out how to game the Reddit system. This probably has been done before, but as far as we know nobody’s actually shared the methods in detail. [Esrun] wrote some scripts that allow him to register multiple accounts and use them to up-vote stories.

The hack goes something like this. A script registers a group of accounts. Each uses a different IP and the only part that requires intervention is typing in the Captcha. This doesn’t take long. You can see the script interface above as well as a demonstration video after the break.

Once the accounts have been acquired a story is submitted and the new accounts vote on it. They’re not all up-votes though, as having both up and down votes puts the article into the controversial section of Reddit (which is desirable), and doesn’t rouse as much suspicion from the moderators. He ran a few tests that he shares and it seems that as long as the article is interesting, this can be quite successful.

Great, more spam with our social media please.

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