The New York Times had a great article concerning the bane of “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart” — “captcha” for short — on our virtual lives.
If you don’t recognize the word “captcha” you will certainly recognize their semiotic power over your online life:
I hate captchas. I can’t read them. I hate being punished for being human.
Some blogs use captchas to block unwanted comments but, as you now know, the dedicated Spammer can easily get around any captcha locks.
The “audio” captchas are the worst. Have you heard them? Find a difficult captcha — Google
has a few for identification verification for some services — and
click on the “Handicapped” icon next to the captcha.
One would think an audio captcha would be a spoken version of the
semiotic version but that is not so… audio captchas are a beast of
their own and consist of softly spoken numbers voiced over white noise
and a cacophony of other random numbers spoken in the background.
Your job is to figure out which numbers to listen to and then them type
into the captcha decryption box.
The experience is enough to make you
recognize how it feels to go insane.
The good news in the Times article is that “relational” captchas are on
their way. You’ll be presented a series of images — tree, sock, hat,
orange — and you would have to click on the image “you wear on your
Since there are millions of images one could use for the captchas, the
theory goes, it will be harder for the Spammers to fake human sorting values
and quantifiable judgments.
I suppose it’s better to click on the right image than to try to type
unreadable characters or enter inaudible numbers — but I wonder if any
captcha technology is really worthwhile.
Do captchas punish Spammers or only us regular folk?
How many captchas do you have to enter in a day?
Does captcha technology ever push you away from a site or a service
because you don’t want to have to deal with repeated failures in trying
to decode the captcha lock?