Captchas! Useful tool or utter pain in the arse?

June 11, 2007

There’s a really good article on the International Herald Tribune site today about the use of Captchas on the web. Captchas are a kind of challenge set to users when they are setting up new accounts or logging into websites. The test aims to prove that it is a human trying to fill the form out and not a computer. The article goes on to show how technology is catching up and computers are able to be programmed to recognise the letter patterns and complete the tasks.

Of course this means that Captchas are getting more and more complex. In turn this means they are more difficult for humans to read as well.

The article mentions that they are tricky for users with sight issues. This affects me now as well! I am colour blind, not hugely but enough that I can’t do the magic eye type pictures that you see at an opticians. Now that people are trying to make Captchas more tricky to complete for a computer it’s making them virtually impossible for me to complete. The one below is just about discernible for me, but some that use close shades of colours are almost impossible and take me a few goes to get correct.


I believe another way is needed. It’s time for someone to invent an identity app that can identify a human user in a more easily completed manner.

Anyway, it’s a good article so give it a read!

Edited: To add that it’s also in the NY Times today. Not the exact same story, but the same topic. So much for originality in the press…

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