Monday, May 9, 2011

Captchas for everyone

I sometimes wonder if there is something wrong with me.

A captcha is a quick little test to make sure that a human, not a bot or script is requesting information from a website.

Re Captcha seems to be a very popular captcha that is supported by Google. It's on a lot of the sites that I use, and I can almost never complete the damn thing without multiple tries.

Do we need such cryptic letters that even humans have problems reading them? Can't we use other tricks that require a bit of reasoning instead of very cryptic letters that could be a c e a or o ? Maybe two words that are related instead of "word-like" prompts?

Audio really isn't much better. I'm at 5 attempts from the audio prompts, and I was just asked to spell out "Their". Or was it "There" ? I don't know, must we use homonyms in an audio captcha? Isn't that just toying with the poor user who's trying to decipher these crazy voices? I think this is what insanity must be like.. all these strange sounds swirling around my head, punctuated by occasional nonsense words that don't make sense.

In my mind, the deductive questions I see on some sites are the best. They ask questions like "If Tom has two apples and George has five apples, how many apples does Tom have?" Questions like this are easy to assemble via random strings, and are just as secure against computer login as a crazy jumbled set of letters in a proto-word that no one recognizes.

The current captcha is probably decent for non-English speakers, but then again only if they recognize the Latin alphabet. If they have trouble there, being presented with English audio cues won't help them at all.

I just want to use the site. Can someone come up with a better method?

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