Captchas suckThursday, January 4, 2007
I think my ‘captcha’ batting average is 300 right now. Captchas are what we call those annoying boxes at the end of a form, or before you download a file. They show you a jumble of letters and numbers and you have to enter what it is. Apparently this is to circumvent non-human interaction with websites. In other words, to make sure no scripts, bots, or programs are automatically stealing all the concert tickets. Well, so far, I’m not getting any tickets either..
As mentioned, I’ve probably fail as many captchas as I pass. You may disagree, but I seem to be a reasonably intelligent person. I figure I can do so much as read a few letters and numbers. Well, apparently not. It seems computers can read as well, if not, better than I can. So, of course, the captchas have to be much more confusing than my eyes could ever decypher. This is stupid — I’m wasting at least 30 seconds trying to read the thing, 15 being told I was wrong, and another 30 trying it again. Thanks, assholes.
I’m not alone
I can’t be. Seriously, others must be having trouble reading some of these. I’ve seen one where the characters are upside down; that takes a lot of energy to figure out. Especially when they warp the character a little. Then that crooked 2 looks like a crooked 5. Or, that sideways 7 could just be a fancy looking L. Oh, and then they throw in the overlay of more characters and numbers. Not only do those throw off computers, they get me too! I can’t tell light grey from slightly less grey. Thanks, assholes.
How to fix this
There are things out there that we could all recognize and interpret. Think of inkblots but a lot easier and a lot less quack. Perhaps we could look at an image of a tree. Or maybe of a famous person. Stuff we should all know.
Heck, why not turn it into a 4-second advertisement where I click, it tells me about a product and I type that product name in? What if we just sell logos and have people enter ‘coke’ instead of IKHJ21. Couldn’t we make this easier for everyone?
We probably could. Why we haven’t yet, I’m not sure. If anyone wants to start a third-party captcha provider feel free to drop me a line.