I'm sure you're all familiar with CAPTCHA
s - those annoying things which require you to type in a bunch of letters and numbers from an image which tries to make it difficult for computers to read said characters. I've seen several different varieties - ranging from fairly basic text (which doesn't do much to hamper OCR efforts), through ones which use really curly fonts, lines through the text, shapes intermingled with the characters, ones which have a picture of a cat or a dog on each letter, asking you to enter all those with a cat or all those with a dog.
The original idea behind CAPTCHA systems was good; I agree with it in principle. However, spammers have found ways around many of them, including "data entry business opportunities" - which they send spam about, luring people to fill in CAPTCHAs for them, for use in submitting spam to websites - or, alternatively, simply getting them to post the spam. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be to make the CAPTCHAs harder to read, which doesn't cut down on this as much as it would if the spammers were simply using OCR to attempt to decipher them. All it does is make it more of a nuisance for legitimate users of the system.
My latest struggle with such a system involved an attempt to sign up for a forum account - which took me three goes. Each attempt involved attempting to decipher a CAPTCHA image, which was so poorly done that 5 and S were utterly indistinguishable (perhaps they would have been, had I seen both at once; however I only ever saw one - (it looked like) the same one, in each of the three instances... I can't remember which it turned out to be). Not only that, but I had to enter my desired password twice on each attempt, and answer a (fairly straightforward, although sometimes slightly ambiguous) question, which, like the CAPTCHA, changed each time. I was so frustrated with this that I was going to completely give up on registering if it had failed me one more time.
The biggest problem with this was not even that the CAPTCHA was unclear - it was the fact that I had to attempt not only a new CAPTCHA, but a new human verification question each time (despite having passed the first and second), and re-enter my password a further two times per attempt. Some systems also offer an audio alternative to the image; this option was also missing from this particular system. Without this audio alternative, even if I could decipher all the other characters in a given CAPTCHA, if it had an S or a 5 in it, I had a 50% chance of failing it.
I wonder just how many people give up on posting a comment, registering an account or performing some other action on a website, simply because they can't decipher a CAPTCHA image?
Oh, one more thing - Sam Ruby raises a good point, which is highly related to my recent experience - when you've verified that somebody's a human, remember it!
Sure, expiry is probably a good thing - re-check periodically. But presenting three different questions as well as three different CAPTCHAs and requiring me to type (and thus send via unencrypted HTTP) my password six times
in order to register, simply because one of the two
forms of human verification is poorly designed? That's just overkill.UPDATE FOR TAGGED.COM USERS:
Several people have posted comments stating that they are having problems with a "captcha fail limit exceeded" error on tagged.com. I have removed all these comments as nobody was getting anywhere.
Tagged.com's help section states that the problem has been fixed
- click here
for more details.
If you are still experiencing this problem, you'll have to try contacting Tagged's support - click here
. I cannot provide any further help or information, as I am not a user of Tagged.com or in any way associated with it.