I’m sick of CAPTCHAs

Filed under: — 3:14 am

?????? <br/> Quick, what does the image above say?

If you answered jhQH4f, you’re wrong. jnQH4f? Wrong. jhQ44f? JhQA4f? Also wrong… at least according to the forum that required me to enter the correct code to prove that I’m not an evil spam-generating hacker robot. Apparently I’m more of a robot than I thought, because I have no idea what that fourth glyph is. I tried about 5 other combinations before giving up and reloading the page a couple of times until I found one I could read.

This is, of course, a CAPTCHA test, something that has lately joined spam, pop-up ads, browser bugs, and people who use the word “blogosphere” on my list of Things That Annoy Me About the Web. It’s supposed to prevent spammer scripts from registering, but I’m guessing tests this difficult prevent a good number of honest-to-goodness humans from accessing sites.

Coincidentally, a few minutes before running into this, I read Seth Godin’s post about running into the same problem at Ticketmaster’s site. At least I’m not alone.

Attention webmasters: If you want users to sign up, please don’t use a CAPTCHA system in your site unless it’s really easy for ordinary people to read without pulling the graphic into Photoshop for sharpening and enlargement. If you don’t want users to sign up, you could just remove the registration page rather than torturing people with one of these MENSA-level CAPTCHAs. Thanks for your time.

13 Responses to “I’m sick of CAPTCHAs”

  1. I think it’s a W. I hate captchas too…

  2. [...] Michael, from figby.com, also points out an idiotic registration captcha. “If you want users to sign up, please don’t use a CAPTCHA system in your site unless it’s really easy for ordinary people to read without pulling the graphic into Photoshop for sharpening and enlargement. If you don’t want users to sign up, you could just remove the registration page rather than torturing people with one of these MENSA-level CAPTCHAs.” [...]

  3. Yvonne Adams says:

    I read this right after I read Seth Godin’s post (you’re both in my TuesThuSatSun NetNewsWire folder). The CAPTCHA problem is ridiculous, and getting more so each day.

  4. I’ll give a point of view from the other side. I own several community websites, and allow people to sign up for a free membership. I’m not particularly fond of captchas myself, so I did not impliment them. Then, one weekend, someone decided to use a bot to attack one of my sites. The bot attacked by signing up new members, and after about 10,000 of them, he succeeded in crashing the server. So, now I use captchas.

    I’m very sorry if it’s an inconvenience to my members, but nobody’s complained actually. Probably the ones that would have complained just never signed up anyway. But, it’s better to inconvenience members with a captcha than to have my pants down again the next time someone wants to use that bot against me.

  5. Ted Bailes says:

    The fourth character looks like a K to me. I prefer the number graphics on an angle like GoDaddy.com uses. Evidently they serve the purpose but are still easy for a human to read.

  6. Michael Moncur says:

    Peter: I run a couple of forums also, and I deal with that problem by requiring email validation. It’s even better than a CAPTCHA since it ensures I have a valid email for all members.

    Also, CAPTCHAs are fine as long as they’re readable… The ones in the WordPress plug-in, for example, or used at Yahoo sites like Flickr, have never bothered me. It’s just that lately they’re becoming harder and harder to read…

  7. CAPTCHAs sure do a good job in preventing robots from spamming. However, more simple and non-graphical CAPTCHA usually also do, like for example a couple of random choosen questions like “What is two times six?” or “Enter the forename of George Washington”. And these are easily accessible even for blind people, a problem most visual CAPTCHA systems do not adress.

  8. Ben XO says:

    I read it as a W too; but then, I know that font pretty well.

  9. Ben XO says:

    The whole point of captchas is that robots cant read as well as people. but one day, robots will be able to read better than people, and robot’s will be making ROBOTCHAS to keep us from gate crashing their robot parties.

    I gate crashed a robot party once, it was rubbish. Just a bunch of hoovers trying to drink bolts out of a funnel. I hate bolts.

  10. zona prestiti says:

    For what it’s worth, Captchas are also a pain for those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, for reasons that should be obvious. Sometimes I just can’t tell what in the world that blurry letter/number is supposed to be– for several images in a row!

  11. Flo says:

    When a captcha seems unsolvable, you might try using another browser. I stumbled across one yesterday which kept complaining that I entered it wrong. After several attempts (with fresh captchas) I tried another browser.. and it worked.

    Looks like sometimes, there is some other kind of security mechanism in the background which can go mad.

    Generally, I don’t like captchas, but they sometimes seem to be a necessety (see Peter’s comment). But when they are used, they should at least be easily readable for humans. I don’t think the spambots are so advanced, that you need hyper-complex captchas…

  12. Gerrit says:

    @Michael: almost two years ago you wrote this article. CAPTCHAs are still in use. And we still have the some problems, especially those people mentioned by ‘Zona Prestiti’. One solution come from ‘Flo’ [...]After several attempts (with fresh captchas) I tried another browser.. and it worked.[...] Did you find any other solutions?

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