CAPTCHA? Gotcha!

CAPTCHA? Gotcha!

Summary: CAPTCHAs are designed to stop spam. This is good.I am finding it increasingly difficult to ‘solve’ CAPTCHAs.


CAPTCHAs are designed to stop spam. This is good.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to ‘solve’ CAPTCHAs. This is bad.

I am not sure whether my brain is slowing down, whether my eyesight is failing, or if CAPTCHAs are becoming more sophisticated and harder to solve (indeed, I've noticed a couple of instances of photographic CAPTCHAs).

Example of photographic CAPTCHA
Example of a photographic CAPTCHA

And therein lies the problem. CAPTCHAs are hurdles for your users. Necessary, maybe, but hurdles nonetheless, designed to trip you up; the antithesis of User Centered Design (UCD another acronym for your oeuvre).

So I was relieved to find out that someone has created a CAPTCHA app for the iPhone, and I think for Android as well, released on the first of this month. It sounds mighty impressive, picking up any CAPTCHA it finds on a web form and filling it in for you.


Topic: Software Development

Jake Rayson

About Jake Rayson

A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text.

As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, and my working life reflects my commitment to open standards and accessible websites (ie accessible by everyone, regardless of browser, platform, ability or technology).

For web publishing platforms, I use WordPress for ease of use and Drupal for more complex solutions.

I am also learning about Ruby, Rails, Sinatra and CoffeeScript. I like the minimalist Ruby Way. To this end, my personal portfolio website is built with NestaCMS.

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  • Jake - I'm with you on this one, I find myself struggling to figure out captchas most of the time these days. I assumed that it was a combination of my brain slowing down and my eyes going bad, neither of which pleases me. But I'm a bit concerned about this app... if the object of a captcha is to distinguish humans from computers, and this app can read a captcha with good reliability, then the usefulness of a captcha is pretty much over, isn't it? Or am I missing something here?

  • @Jake; @jw.

    I agree with you whole heartedly. Only the other day I had to give up and abandon any attempt to respond to the catchpas, inconvenient to say the least. However an app to do the job for you is surely self defeating - for iOS and Android, neither of which I use anyway.
    The Former Moley
  • I have enormous difficulty with Captcha's, I really find them frustrating
  • Surely Captchas are to foil programs like this!
    Also, are you allowed to tell us the name of the program, as I can't see it on the Apple App Store or by googling it. There is a Remote Captcha app, but it doesn't decode them for you.
  • Nice to see that I am not the only person who is having problems with these infernal things. They used to relatively obvious but now seem to be getting more and more distorted. Surely the companies who use them must be losing business because of them now.
  • The captchas are useless, half the time it's a lucky guess if you get passed them. If you think the visual thing is bad, has anyone tried the audio abomination as an alternative? It's a joke.
  • @jw > Or am I missing something here?

    I'm sorry, it was a post-dated April Fools. But I'm sure if someone made an app to solve CAPTCHAs, they would do very well, as they are _so_ annoying.

    @51607 > has anyone tried the audio abomination as an alternative? It's a joke.

    Yes. And not a very good joke. Harder to work out than the visual CAPTCHA!
    Jake Rayson