Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Ideas to Toss: Alternative Captcha?

Posted on: April 8, 2008

Main Entry: Captcha
Function: Verb
Date: Quite recently.

1a. The modern way of torturing a poor netcitizen with the repeated function of eye squinting.

I’m sure all of you know what a captcha image is right? Well, for the uninitiated, its essentially those skewed letters which form letters of strings of numbers, that you have to squint at repeatedly and tilt your head from sideways to leeways, and even might have to invite your dog over and ask him if his black and white vision helps, to figure out what that letter is. It’s supposed to stop “spam bots” from getting to you.

As you can see, I am not very much a fan of that. Well, I say that there definitely better ways to do it.

What you are essentially looking for is a little bit of human intelligence and the ability to come up with a “smart” question, using a “stupid” computer so that the answer could determine whether the person or thing providing the input could be determined for intelligence. That’s pretty much the logic.

So is skewed text, and at times throwing random ink blots into the mix, the way to go about it?

There are already a few options being discussed about, out there at large, but here’s what i am thinking. Have you played the game of “pick the odd one out” ? That game certainly requires a bit of intelligence – atleast that of a five year old – yet doesn’t freckle your brains to come up with an answer. Plus its also a lot of fun. The beauty is that, you could make it as a silly and simple as the jackpot choices (where the choices are obviously different), or can make it a bit trickier with very similar looking options.

A small interactive widget which can randomize four of five images and perhaps ask the user to “pick the rabbit out of the horses”, with three horses and a rabbit lined up… wouldnt that be simpler, and serve the purpose?

For all the fuzz going on a with companies such as disqus, a team who can actually put together an embeddable widget to do an alternative captcha is worth mention of.

PS: Captcha “really” stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart

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8 Responses to "Ideas to Toss: Alternative Captcha?"

True….Captcha will soon die off….

There are few sites who are already using such alternatives.
Thoof.com a user news aggregation site gives a picture with animals and asks to click on the cats.
And another site from Izea.com uses stuff like..
Jack and Jill went up the ____
what comes after June …..
Spell God backwards….

Indeed It’s fun and a good alternative to the random numbers and flying alphabets!

I’m glad that I’m not the only one that has trouble. I often get sent back to try again.

p.s. I’m glad we can tell humans and computers apart.

Why not have something simple like

2 + 2 = ?

After all, you just want to check if it’s a human or not!

I agree with you guys too! Captchas are ultra boring now-a-days! especially when you sit at nights and try to download a movie from Rapidshare!

I have already seen the 2+2 idea being implemented (I think it was Ipatrix.com)

Pretty decent.

I have seen another beautiful hack as a replacement for CAPTCHAs. The idea is to have a hidden form with a CAPTCHA like question. If the form is submitted, then you know it is a BOT. Of course this is easy to break, but i like the idea of making BOT do something extra instead of a human.

using pictures as identification can be easily cracked by spammers, spammers will automatically download each picture you have, then use humans to reference them to the correct answer in a database, (a million images would be referenced pretty easily by a team of people working for a month) and then each time a dog pops out the computer will compare the image to the images in the databse and identify the answer
obviously the spammers database of victims images needs to be updated and worked through, which costs money, but spammers will get a way around that too.
and use pure css instead of text to send messages and ads to the victims, so that anti-spam machines do not see any inapropriate text
reference: http://twinturbo.org/microsoft/will-asirra-replace-captcha/
http://www.cssplay.co.uk/menu/cssfont.html

2+2 can be read by a bot and added together, unless its a very-stupid bot…
there are even screen reading bots that identify any symbol necessary

googles, yahoo, hotmail capthcas have been broken.
for now the spammers programs are expensive, so normal users can use captcha but soon the programs will be cheap, what will we do then?
we need a stable replacement

how about we have animals with names on their collars, names would be random and the images would be plenty?
this can be cracked too, but its like a combination of “captcha” and “pick out the odd one”

I am a little new to programming, but still I thought I might raise this… Wouldn’t placing different questions like “Spell GOD backwards” etc. and verifying the answers use up space on the database where they are stored? I mean, if there’s a question like that, a BOT can’t crack it and so we have to place the questions and answers on a database and verify the results right?
Just thought I’d raise that..
btw… I don’t seem to see any CAPTCHAs for making replies.. 😀

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