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 captcha.net:
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:
In this particular example, it’s pretty easy to see “overlooks inquiry.” Maybe too easy, since today I came across this:
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:
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:
But wait, is that second word “commiiv?”
Again from captcha.net, “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!)