Chances are you’ve come across this fine, smart and user-friendly system when trying to log into a site, or while trying to leave a comment on someone’s blog.

According to

A CAPTCHA is a program that protects websites against bots by generating and grading tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot. For example, humans can read distorted text as the one shown below, but current computer programs can’t:

CAPTCHA example

In this particular example, it’s pretty easy to see “overlooks inquiry.” Maybe too easy, since today I came across this:

CAPTCHA example

What the fuck? Is it just me and my encroaching senility, or is that impossible?

Sure, there’s the refresh button, which gives you another try like this:

CAPTCHA example

Seriously, if you can read those, please tell me so I know if it’s me, because if it’s not me then either a) this test is designed for only a tiny percentage of all humans, or b) the CAPTCHA implementation is flawed.

Sure, if I hit the refresh enough, eventually I hit something even I can figure out, but you know what? Screw you, website. (In this case, website = LinkedIn.)

How many of these do I have to rotate through before I can make it out enough to pass the test? Eventually I’ll come upon one that looks almost decipherable:

CAPTCHA example

But wait, is that second word “commiiv?”

Again from, “The words shown come directly from old books that are being digitized.

Really? What book used the word “commiiv?” Even if it was from some language other than English, might it not show up somewhere on Google? (It doesn’t.)

Ah, but digitizing scanned text is not perfect. Perhaps the digitizing process mis-read “Commie” or something like that.

Whatever. If I have to work so hard to get past the gatekeeper, it seems to me the spam has won. More importantly to those who choose this system for their site, chances are I’m simply going to move on to another site that is more user-friendly.

Of course if that’s your goal, website owner, well played.


Addendum:  For more (and better) examples of these silly things, check out Is That A Security Code or an Elder Driver Vision Exam? over at Hippie Cahier’s website. I’d say it’s a surprising coincidence that she posted on the same topic around the same time as me, but it’s happened often enough that it’s not so surprising. It’s also pretty cool.

Addendum #2:  Lynn Schneider pointed out that trying to subscribe to Random Says led to her having to pass a captcha-like test that FeedBurner apparently added by default. I looked for a way to disable it, but for the life of me I could not find a solution. (If you know how to do it, would you please let me know?) So, I have added a new subscription form using a different tool. Please let me know how it works, or if it doesn’t. (Thank you, Lynn!)

CAPTCHA rant, WTF version
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6 thoughts on “CAPTCHA rant, WTF version

  • 10-03-2012 at 1:34 pm

    I saw your comment on Hippie Cahier. I liked your post so much I decided to subscribe. Guess what happened? I had to type in a stupid messed up word in order to subscribe and it took me six tries. I took a screen shot but of course it wouldn’t let me post it here. If only. Anyway, I liked your posts, and I like to see people are as frustrated by dumb stuff as I am.

    • 10-03-2012 at 1:39 pm

      Oh my, as soon as I started reading your comment, I flashed upon what you were going to say. Ugh!!

      Thank you for letting me know. I will look into fixing that right away. I know I didn’t set things up that way, but apparently the tools I’m using assumed I’d want to…what? I’m not even sure I understand what I’m supposedly being protected from in this case. Too many subscribers? Grrr.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  • 10-04-2012 at 6:47 pm

    I know I’ve been deterred by Captcha before. There’s only so many times I’ll try before I start to question whether the site really wants my business or wants me to subscribe. It might just be a research study to see how many times people will click without success before throwing their computer.

    • 10-05-2012 at 3:13 pm

      I wonder how many sites using Captcha realize what a pain it is for their visitors. I also wonder how many people are using tools they don’t fully understand, like me for example.

      That would be an interesting study to see how many times people will try before giving up. I think I’ll write up a grant proposal to see if I can get funding for that.

  • 10-04-2012 at 7:11 pm

    I get a lot of spam every time I turn mine off, but I knew it was annoying so I had Mr I.T. install a new one for me. It only forces the commenter through captcha if it thinks the post is spam. So far so good…

    • 10-05-2012 at 3:16 pm

      It is sad that we have to protect ourselves from spam. If only people had better things to do than waste time and energy on annoying other people.

      I guess it’s a reality that we often need to do something to moderate the spam, but these Captcha tests don’t seem like a good way to go.


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