I’m getting too old for this: The letter captcha rant

There are probably several billion reasons to use a captcha on a form; as many as the amount of spam one is in danger of receiving.

The “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” works well when the characters are straightforward letters or numbers that must be entered inside an input box to validate its content.

All worked well, until this method was cracked by automated bots that could identify the letters and numbers with extreme accuracy, thus rendering the captcha useless.

The remedy was to twirl, slant, extrude or otherwise stretch letters so that they aren’t recognizable, unless one – presumably human – tries hard to read what the hell is the text to be typed.

But it has gotten ridiculous.

Perhaps it’s just that my analytical perception and vision have gotten worse as I’m aging, or maybe because with each new rollout of such captchas there is an extra degree, an extra amount of distortion to be overcome.

I’ve really had it. (Apparently, I’m not the only one.)

There are alternatives to captchas that seem to display letters as if they came out of the fire, all melted and gooey. This is the one I use on this very blog.


  1. Haha, so funny you mention this. I was fighting with captcha last night, literally missed it four times in a row.

    I think the idea behind captcha is cool (and actually know the folks who created it) but it really is getting to be a challenge.

    They need to think beyond security and also look at user experience. If it takes me five minutes to login to a website, do I feel more secure or just more frustrated?

  2. Morgan – Exactly. If I spend more than 10 seconds to identify the twirl of words, it gets really frustrating 😀

  3. Acro, you have no idea how much you’ve echoed my sentiments in this post!! i look at it like an arms race. both sides continue to escalate, as the bots get better, the captchas get ‘worse’ (on us humans)… when will it end!?

  4. The solution to captcha is using random questions humans can easily answer (which is already used on some websites), like basic arithmetic operations.

  5. Mike – Glad to hear I’m not just going senile 😀

    Joe – That’s a good alternative as long as there are a lot of questions. I’ve watched bots brute-forcing captchas for hours at a time.

  6. I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

Speak Your Mind