Play To Say: The Lighter Side Of CAPTCHAs

By Richard Cobbett on May 22nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

If there was cake there, she'd be a ****ing diva...

Very little bodes quite as ill as an attempt to make something boring ‘fun’. Learning. Taxes. Opera. It doesn’t really matter. At best, it adds an increasingly ignored diversion to an unwelcome task. At worst, the added glitz makes it even more irritating.

In unrelated news, Are You A Human is attempting to make CAPTCHAs fun.

Yes, CAPTCHAs – officially known as “Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart” by people who don’t quite get what acronyms are, or “Those Stupid Bloody Things That Don’t Bloody Work” by site-owners everywhere. Since Those Stupid Bloody Things That Don’t Bloody Work don’t bloody work, they’ve gone from simple ‘type in the word’ irritations to gut-wrenching stupidities in the last few years, where you’re somehow meant to sift words from a pile of chickenscratch that no human being this side of a HP Lovecraft story would be able to decipher, all in the name of going “First post!” or “LOL!”

Are You A Human puts a different spin on it – asking you to play a random game instead. Put the drinks in the cooler. Drag a sports car to the parking space. Engage and defeat Sartharion the Onyx Guardian with three drakes. Catch some butterflies. Each only takes a few seconds to master, meaning that only humans and Wario will be able to get through*.

(* Unless the system becomes popular enough to be gamed, obviously.)

Farming for gear in Diablo 3? Piss off! I'm GARDENING!

It’s not a bad idea, but it doesn’t go remotely far enough. For starters, a system that only permits humans to enter or comment on a site completely ignores that most humans are smelly and horrible. These games should really be stealth tests of character and experience, taking a few cues from Kingdom of Loathing’s Altar of Literacy. Forget dragging fish into ponds – I want to see people dragging apostrophes into sentences! I want quick-fire trivia questions that casually slip in “Have you ever commented on a Daily Mail article?” and forward the failed IP addresses straight to the ban list. You know how annoying it is to have people leap to comment while still hot and spewing rabid foam? Put a few rounds of Puzzle Bobble between them and having their say, and enjoy the new era of calm, civilised conversation. You know it makes sense.

And at the very least, they need to add CAPTCHA The Flag.

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108 Comments »

  1. wccrawford says:

    I just want to say that I’m all about gamified captchas. Put in a scoring system and achievements and we’re all set.

  2. Strangerator says:

    CAPTCHAs will someday inadvertently create AI. Then the machines will have the first post on everything.

    • abandonhope says:

      00000001 01000110 01101001 01110010 01110011 01110100 00101110

      • Redsplinter says:

        01000011 01101100 01100101 01110110 01100101 01110010 00101110

        http://home.paulschou.net/tools/xlate/

        • Nintyuk says:

          Ohhh the irony.

        • theleif says:

          01001101 01100101 01101000 00101110 00100000 01001010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100110 01100001 01100011 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01101000 01110101 01101101 01100001 01101110 01110011 00100000 01101110 01100101 01100101 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110101 01110011 01100101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110100 01110010 01100001 01101110 01110011 01101100 01100001 01110100 01101111 01110010 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110101 01101110 01100100 01100101 01110010 01110011 01110100 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01101100 01100001 01101110 01100111 01110101 01100001 01100111 01100101 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101111 01110110 01100101 01110011 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100111 01110011 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100010 01100101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100010 01100101 00100000 01100101 01110010 01100001 01100100 01101001 01100011 01100001 01110100 01100101 01100100 00101110

          01000101 01100100 01101001 01110100 00111010 00100000 01001010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01101011 01101001 01100100 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00101110 00100000 01010111 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00101110 00100000 01010100 01110010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01110101 01110011 00101110

          • HAL 9000 says:

            01010011 01100101 01110010 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01110101 01110100 01100101 01110010 00101110 00100000 01010100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01110101 01110100 01100101 01110010 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01100110 01110010 01101001 01100101 01101110 01100100 00101110 00001101 00001010

  3. baby snot says:

    This is just adding fuel to the fire. This is how Skynet will learn how game the gamers (and everyone else).

  4. Pathetic Phallacy says:

    I don’t understand why CAPTCHAs are attempting to discriminate against my desire to consume road pylons and Swingline staplers.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      The whole idea of CAPTCHA is discrimination!

      Something ironic I noticed recently is that some of the current captcha images are so hard to read it would actually be easier to create a bot to read them to do it myself.

      • Torgen says:

        I run a forum where a number of older people register, and was having problems with both spambots and old folks unable to solve the captcha. I’m using Nucaptcha now, and have had zero spambots make it through, and no complaints from people trying to register about being unable to read the captcha:

        http://www.nucaptcha.com/demo

        I’ve started using it on WordPress blogs as well as phpbb forums.

  5. Dinger says:

    the problem with literacy-based CAPTCHAs is that the machines score better than humans. Consider the following:
    place the apostrophe in the right place:

    Its my right to post spams.

    Sadly, the spambot knows the answer to that one.

    • darthdie says:

      Its my right to post spams’.

      You add it after “spams” because its plural.

      …It’s taking all my energy not to correct the apostrophes.

      • rokahef says:

        In Kingdoms of Amalur, it would be spelled:

        I’ts my righ’t to po’st sp’a'ms

  6. Eraysor says:

    CAPTCHAs are already fun. Only one of the words actually needs to be correct so the fun is in determining which one needs to be typed correctly and which word you can just write gibberish/something rude!

    • HoosTrax says:

      This is exactly what I do. It’s obvious which of the two words is the real test (the one that’s harder to interpret). So I usually put something obscene as the other word to mock the scientist who devised the concept. The word that’s easier to read is the one that’s the basis of the crowd-sourced literature thing behind Captcha. I don’t appreciate being forced to participate in it.

      • Meneth says:

        Why deliberately harm the digitization of books?

        • HoosTrax says:

          Why deliberately aggravate me and waste my precious time? Go make it a voluntary project like those protein sequencing games.

          • Meneth says:

            CAPTCHAs are needed to reduce spam. Might as well do something useful at the same time.

          • HoosTrax says:

            Except that particular type of Captcha is one of the more time-consuming and frustrating ones out there (I personally have not run into one that’s more annoying). If I, as an honest to goodness human, have to try multiple times to get it correct (usually a half-dozen refreshes to get one that doesn’t look like chicken scratch and that I *might* have a chance of solving), what’s the point? Also, I’m not sure why anyone would assume that the digitization of books is automatically more important what any given person might be doing on the Internet. In any case, my point still stands — make it voluntary and reward people who participate, don’t punish people who are just out to do their business on the Internet.

          • cassus says:

            HoosTrax:
            If it was made voluntary there would be no reason to have them there at all. All the spambots would just click the “don’t solve” button on spam to their hearts content. Comment sections on sites like youtube or wordpress blogs or sites that let you comment with your facebook/twitter acount or whatever would just be an absolute crapfest of spam. Not having captchas or similar control mechanisms would basically mean that comment sections would be DONE on all sites without hard-to-make-accounts or subscription fees. I don’t want to make a million accounts just to comment on an article here and there. I like getting to comment on a news article with my facebook account and stuff like that, and I’ll do a captcha now and again rather than the alternative.

            I do see why you’re annoyed by it, but there’s no alternative right now..

        • Eukatheude says:

          Actually i don’t understand how this digitization works. I mean, to pass the captcha i have to type in two words that the system already knows are the right ones. Meaning, someone already typed them in. So how exactly is it helping?

          • Koozer says:

            Only one word is known by the computer. The other is an unknown bit of digitised text as an image. So if you guess the known one right, it takes your other answer as the meaning of the second. It’ll then gather a big lump of people’s answers for a word and pick the most common for the meaning (I hope).

          • Baines says:

            My biggest problems with double word captures to improve book scanning are that:

            1) There is nothing in the system to deal with non-native language. I’ve seen Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and other languages show up on captchas. Perhaps more problematic though are the “almost English” (or “almost [insert appropriate language]“) words, the ones where multiple people might “fake it” in the same fashion. For example, stripping all umlats and other marks from a word because I use a US English keyboard.)

            2) There is apparently nothing in the system to deal with garbage questions. For example, I’ve seen captchas that have the bottom half of one word and the top half of the word on the next line, apparently because the original scan got off-center. I’ve also seen a giant black square, where the ink of the original print had run so badly that the whole (short) word was a single blob. Or two words mashed together, one on top of the other. And there is no way that I can say “Hey, this is a garbage captcha, and you shouldn’t trust any response you get for it.

            3) As with #2, there is nothing in the system to deal with mathematical formula. I’ve seen these show up a lot of times, and some of them are very easy to get wrong common answers, which may then be thrown into whatever source book scan they came from. Things like an equation with superscripts and subscripts, or with marks that can be easily “faked” or substituted by people who think they are doing the right thing just by being close. (Imagine reading a book online and seeing “e=mc2″…)

          • DrazharLn says:

            Baines: On ‘words’ that are likely to receive poor responses from people, the range of responses will be wider.

            The reCaptcha system (the one that helps digitize books) was designed by Computer Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and at Google, they (probably) know how to interpret the data sensibly.

      • lordcooper says:

        You are a bad person and should feel bad.

      • Valvarexart says:

        Oh, I thought I was the only one doing this… Well, they probably filter obscene words anyway…

      • lokimotive says:

        Oh is that what it’s doing? That’s pretty cool, actually, and I’m happy to oblige. Considering I usually end up doing a Captcha when I’m pirating porn, it’s nice to know that I’m contributing to the preservation of books while, quite literally, jerking around.

        Baines problems make me wonder how reliable the results are. I wonder what sources the books are from. I haven’t seen a lot of foreign characters, though I have seen some long s’s, which is always a little disconcerting. I know I’ve been caught before assuming the system knew it was an s and apparently failing because someone thought it was an f, or assumed other people would think it was an f. I feel like I’ve seen other old book conventions (like ñ for “ing” endings) as well as eths and thorns. I wonder how those strings fair… probably not well.

    • dsch says:

      You know, it’s not all just shits and giggles and some people actually need to use the text you produce. I’ll know who to thank when a Google books search fails.

      And then there are those times when you come across something like a long s and you just know that the people/machines who did it before would have thought it was an f, so you’d have to type it wrong to pass.

      • HoosTrax says:

        “The privilege of the writ habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of LuisvonAhnplayingwithhimself or invasion, the public safety may require it.”

  7. Shantara says:

    I’m fine with it as long as there is a way to bypass this game for people with sight problems, like in current captcha systems.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      there’s one which reads out a set of words with background noise, and then you type that in

      http://www.captcha.net/

      click the speaker… but then, you have to be able to touchtype if you’re blind otherwise your input will still be probably wrong

    • HoosTrax says:

      I have perfectly fine vision (at computer distance anyways…) and I usually have to reset it multiple times before I get a Captcha I can made out.

  8. Farkeman says:

    I do care not about CAPTCHAs.

    while they protect my website from spammer bots and doesn’t waste more than 5 seconds of my time I’m completely fine with them.

    • Ragnar says:

      You should meet the Verizon Enterprise Web Portal captcha, which accompanies having to enter your username and complex password for login. It succeeds in making you not want to do business with Verizon each time you go to use their Web Portal.

  9. noom says:

    I’ve been arguing for years that the simple act of connecting to the internet should have some basic skill tests associated with it. Ever since we moved away from fiddly modems to plug-in-and-use broadband connexions, the internet has become flooded with riff-raff.

  10. Radiant says:

    there is something to be said about random captcha word pairings.
    http://www.captchaart.com/1441-lord-emostabe-captcha-art/

    • westyfield says:

      My favourite one was “human tasty”. The machines, they are coming.

  11. Premium User Badge

    neofit says:

    And if you don’t speak English well enough to understand “Place food in refrigerator”?

    • Premium User Badge

      Rikard Peterson says:

      Then you probably won’t be reading and commenting on English language sites.

      • Jhoosier says:

        Guess my ESL students aren’t going to be able to participate, then.

        • Bhazor says:

          If your students can’t understand “food” and “fridge” then how are they going to understand the content of the articles?

          • Apples says:

            Nevermind that – if they can’t infer from the image alone what they should be doing in the case of the food/fridge one, they probably don’t understand… anything.

          • Premium User Badge

            neofit says:

            “You can never put too much water in the reactor”

          • quintesse says:

            @Apples: it might seem very easy, but think of all the cultural differences: the bottle could easily be for something like milk, is milk not food? On the other hand there might not be many drumsticks in your country which might make you wonder what the brown blob with the bumpy white thing is :)

          • Artificial says:

            Wait.. that’s milk? I thought it was a petrol container. I thought the food was the chicken drumstick and the triangle shaped orange drink carton on the right.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            But if they can’t identify those things, then the ‘put food in refrigerator’ text isn’t going to help anyway.

            Captchas always have problems but I’m not really convinced that this one has any real problems identified here so far.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            RobF’s points below are good exceptions though. Blind people. Poor motor control. This obviously won’t work for them.

    • Meneth says:

      Or if you live somewhere where milk (at least that’s what I assume it is) doesn’t come in jugs. I associate that jug more with bleach and such than anything edible.

      • Premium User Badge

        oWn4g3 says:

        I live in Germany, tried all the games on their page and waited some seconds for this thing to continue after putting that delicious piece of meat in the fridge :D

      • Cryo says:

        Wait, this is milk? I was sure it was bleach.

        • Brun says:

          Around here bleach has a smoothly curved bottle, whereas milk typically has angled surfaces like in the picture above. Not sure if it’s different in other countries.

    • Bhazor says:

      Then why would you want to post on an English language website?

      Preventing the likes of Nigerian scammers from copy pasting butchered English they can’t even read is the whole point of a Captcha.

    • Vinraith says:

      I can’t figure out why you’d be trying to comment on a site where you read the language that poorly. I can think of reasons to be reading sites like that, sure, but I wouldn’t go comment on a French site, for example, because I can’t read French for shit.

      • Premium User Badge

        stahlwerk says:

        Guest articles, untranslated interviews and sources in a foreign national archive, ESL / “easy” english sites, multilingual web portals…

        • Vinraith says:

          Clearly this would not be appropriate on an ESL site, but surely it wouldn’t be used on one as a result? As to multi-language sites, surely a multi-language version would be in use there? No solution is appropriate to every possible circumstance, after all.

      • Premium User Badge

        equatorian says:

        Speaking as an ESL……..well, they have a point, you know. Sometimes it’s not just a matter of speaking a language poorly, the shapes of things may not be the same in other cultures, and the British/American English issue can get hilariously warped outside of the UK and the US. My old primary school taught American English, my junior high British English, then highschool American English and British English in different years, and I have no idea what they taught in college but I’m pretty sure it’s different across institutions. So, suppose these things show up with a torch, it’s going to be all too easy to be ‘wait, but this is a flashlight what is this torch you speak of WHERE IS IT I CAN’T SEE ONE’.

        Maybe it’d be a decent way to pick up new words for people really starting, though. Eh.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Who would place a piece of ham in the fridge as-is, anyway. Barbaric.

    • Solskin says:

      Maybe we could translate it…

  12. Maldomel says:

    Lol!

    (sorry, without CAPTCHAs to cool me down, I just write the first thing that comes to my mind).

  13. Joe The Wizard says:

    I like opera.

  14. superflunky says:

    areyouhuman.com’s captcha solution is a nice idea, but it needs to be much more complicated to actually work. As it stands there is a 1/6 chance of randomly getting the answer correct. Those kind of odds will not deter anyone from using a brute force attempt….

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Apparently it keeps track of what you’re trying to stop you from doing the brute force thing – determining “Okay, this is just guesswork” and rejecting you if so.

      • DeepQantas says:

        How apparently? I tried a couple of times dragging all items all the wrong directions at first and it didn’t complain.

        This whole thing seems pretty much doomed from the start. If the task is simple and this human detection method becomes popular spammers will figure out ways to automate it. And when they do, you have to come up with more complicated games and you end up with crazy AYHs instead of crazy CAPTCHAs. And you’ll be handcrafting new games when CAPTCHA can just use any of their gazillion scanned words.

  15. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    How about a CAPTCHA that requires you to use the correct form of there, their and they’re?
    Granted, a few people will slip through thanks to random chance, so back it up with an apostrophe and comma test.

    In fact, this should just be the sort of thing your browser throws at you when you first try to use the internet.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lamb Chop says:

      Like Google’s drunk email test.

      • Premium User Badge

        DrScuttles says:

        Please tell me there’s an android app to prevent me from sending embarrassing drunken text messages.

  16. Bhazor says:

    One problem is that the drag and drop ones can be completed through trial and error. If it reset itself after every mistake or changed the food/animals after each attempt then it would be much more effective.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    In a perfect world Feyncomment would work on most of the Internet and CAPTCHAs would be all but redundant.

    I hate the things. They’re a bit like DRM in that it’s only legitimate commenters who have to deal with them.

    • Apples says:

      Hey, make that replace all the comments with his quotes where he’s talking about seeing women as bitches and worse than whores, and Youtube will look exactly the same.

  18. lordcooper says:

    Best tag ever.

  19. Premium User Badge

    RobF says:

    An even less accessible captcha! That must have taken some work.

    So less mobility? No entrance. Wonky sight? No entrance! Remarkable levels of NOT THINKING AT ALL there in the name of gamifying stuff that doesn’t need gamifying.

    • Brun says:

      If your sight is so wonky that it can’t read “Put food in fridge” then how are you going to be able to type comments?

      EDIT: Also, how is it LESS accessible than the “chicken scratch” we already have? Someone with sight problems would have it much worse off with one of those.

      • Premium User Badge

        stahlwerk says:

        If a dictation program could solve this new captcha (“Command: Put food in fridge”), you wouldn’t need the captcha in the first place.

        • Brun says:

          I’m not sure what you mean. Surely a dictation program (i.e. a text-to-speech program) could only read the prompt “Put food in fridge” – it couldn’t actually solve the puzzle without including some sophistication (text interpretation, image recognition, etc.) which is, at the moment, quite rare if not nonexistent.

          • Apples says:

            Yes that is the problem. You can ‘type’ a comment using a dictation program (the opposite of what you think it is – you’re thinking of screenreaders) but can’t solve the CAPTCHA, so while you are capable of commenting, you’re not ‘allowed’ to.
            I think this is kind of OK for people with poor vision, as traditional CAPTCHAs cannot be solved by them either, and the audio version of CAPTCHA can still be used (or maybe an audio-based game?). But for people with poor mobility it’s more annoying, as a CAPTCHA can be completed by typing, but these games might require some level of reflex, or the ability to hold down a mouse button for some period of time, etc. Things that might seem very easy to us but may not be for everyone. And if there’s someone with very poor mobility and also very poor hearing, they would not be able to pass these games or the audio captchas.

      • Premium User Badge

        RobF says:

        As frustrating as current CAPTCHA tech is and can be, it’s still relatively (relatively!) accessible. There’s audio cues and a pressure free environment that requires only the ability to type or have something/someone type for you. They’re not perfect and the background chatter on audio is often as problematic as the chicken scratch is for the majority of visually sound users but with persistance, still doable.

        All this goes out the window when you turn it into a game. Suddenly your motor skills are tested also and who knows what else they might concoct. The game might run on a timer or any amount of other things that fall under accessibility don’t-do-that guidelines. It’s casting the barriers net even further afield to encompass more strains of differing abilities. It might well solve one problem (I suspect it doesn’t given it’ll be reliant on logic rather than obfuscation) but it opens up far more serious ones in greater numbers.

        And for what? Why intentionally make something harder for people with differing abilities when things can be awkward and messy enough as it is?

        • Brun says:

          I think the idea here is that they’re trying to change CAPTCHAs from solving problems that MOST humans find annoying and MOST machines find difficult to solving problems that MOST humans find second-nature and MOST machines find impossible. They’re doing it by basing these puzzles on tasks that machines aren’t particularly good at (solving image-based puzzles, interpreting commands), but that humans can do easily.

          So from a logical standpoint it’s an effective way of accomplishing the goal of CAPTCHA. I don’t think it’s doomed to fail for that reason.

          • Apples says:

            Sure, but just saying “well, MOST people can do it easily!” is not an excuse for potentially completely excluding people who can’t. Your mild inconvenience at having to squint at a captcha does not override the needs of those who are less advantaged (or… the dreaded word… ‘privileged’) than you. In saying that these things are things that “humans can do easily”, there’s a really bad unintentional implication there that I think you can see.

            Which is not to say this captcha idea is bad, it just needs actual thought put into it as to how to make it accessible.

          • Brun says:

            When I said “humans can do easily” I was speaking from the perspective of computer vs. human logic and interpretive skills. That is to say, from more of a cognitive standpoint.

          • Premium User Badge

            RobF says:

            Yet, it’s more reliant on things that humans can pretty easily write programs to circumvent than a normal reCaptcha. Instead of a multitude of combinations, you’re reducing it often down to a series of flags (did user do this? OFF YOU GO) and that’ll take no time to brute force and I can see it being both fairly trivial to defeat and defeated in no time should they ever go into wider usage.

          • Brun says:

            Devising a program that could solve the fridge problem would be quite difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. Here’s what it would have to do:

            1) Read the prompt. Easy enough.
            2) Interpret the prompt. The program would need to figure out what it was supposed to do from the prompt. “Put food in the fridge.” To some extent it could be written to know that most of these puzzles involve placing graphical objects into other graphical objects. But now you need to figure out what to put where.
            3) Scan and interpret the graphical objects based on the prompt. So if we somehow figured out that the objects we need to identify are “fridge” and “food” we need to distinguish between the correct objects and the dummies. I suppose you could use some kind of image comparator (Google image search for “Fridge” and compare with the scanned image of each of the objects). Not only is this a daunting task in itself, but you also have to identify the objects as distinct from the fixed background. Plus, they deliberately used vague terms like “food” – food can mean many things and not many image searches for “food” would return pictures of milk jugs (which are considered drinks).
            4) Interact with the puzzle and move the correct objects into the fridge. Fairly trivial if you can pass 1-3.

            Now the puzzles they’ve presented here are fairly simple (there’s only one “fridge” – no false endpoints, that is). But they could make them immensely more complicated for machines by including a recycle bin or something as an additional “drop point.” Adding a single additional object will dramatically increase the complexity of the puzzle for a machine while keeping it relatively simple for humans to figure out.

          • Premium User Badge

            RobF says:

            Or, they could just write a program that hunts for the flags, right?

          • Brun says:

            What do you mean by “flags,” and where would the program hunt for them?

          • Premium User Badge

            RobF says:

            They’ll just look for bits of code that declare the relative win states rather than attempt to solve the puzzle itself.

            Just tell the computer the task has been achieved rather than emulating the task or automating the task completion. It’s something that a lot of people are already incredibly good at for software that’s no doubt massively more complex than this.

            Let’s put it this way, if they can write server emulators for MMO games, this is going to be a walk in the park.

          • Brun says:

            Where would it find such data? I would expect most CAPTCHAs to be embedded objects, meaning that there’s no visibility to their inner workings (as their source is not contained in the page source).

          • Salt says:

            It’s a nice idea that one would need to make a general purpose problem solving machine, akin to the one that won Jeopardy.

            But more pragmatically you’d write a far simper bot for each of the individual games that are introduced into the service, and something to recognise what the requested task is.
            Making a bot that solves just the refrigerator game would be simple. Remember that there’s a finite number of items that could appear, so it wouldn’t take a very intelligent program to recognise each and look up from a human-made list indicating if they’re food or not.

            It looks like they intend for developers to constantly submit new games to their database, but I’m sure bot makers will manage to keep up. During the delay between a new game appearing and a new bot being written, it can simply click the “try another game” button until it gets one it can solve.

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          RobF says:

          But if it comes at the expense of A LARGE AMOUNT OF people who could previously access things under the current system (and let’s be fair here, CAPTCHA is a mild if irritating inconvenience not the end of the world) then it’s an utterly not fit for purpose solution. Replacing an irritation with something that blocks out swathes of users by default is a backwards step in the very wrong direction.

          Accessibility is acknowledging that it’s not just about MOST people, it’s about as many people as possible. And frankly, MOST people are doing just fine anyway. MOST people are mildly inconvenienced by CAPTCHA and this is hardly a stark improvement for them, it’s just one time waster for another except this one blocks out A LARGE AMOUNT OF people too. So we don’t need this. Not like this. It makes things worse not better.

    • LionsPhil says:

      This, hard.

  20. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    EDIT: ^^^^^^ cheers!

    Invariably, trying to lock out machines will lead to locking out humans who are equally or less capable than solving the captcha than the machine. And frankly, that’s not at all question of intelligence, but culture, language, or technology of access (e.g. screen readers for the visually impaired). I do not very much care for that.

  21. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    Obligatory xkcd link

    Anything that makes these things actually easier for a real human – as apparently handbag selling bots have no issues with them, whilst it takes me 17 attempts and trying to use the speaker is like holding your mobile underwater to talk on it – can only be a good thing.

  22. Premium User Badge

    equatorian says:

    I think the game captcha is more obtuse and time-wasting than the old one. The old one? A single glance tells you exactly what to do, and if it throws Arabic at you then it takes less than a second to refresh. The new one? It took me a few seconds to figure out what the hell the ‘plant a garden’ one wants me to do, though in its defense the small picture size probably has something to do with it. Still, I’d have to click and drag those things to their places. This, to me, is more annoying and intrusive.

    Sounds like I’m in the minority, but eh. Right to have an opinion, so on and so forth.

  23. MythArcana says:

    Whoever invented the CAPTCHA needs the Ceaucescu treatment on live satellite TV.

  24. Veeskers says:

    This just looks exactly like those sinister advertisements all over the net that try to trick people (mostly children, I assume) to click on a flimsy charade of a “game”.
    And that can’t be helpful.

  25. Phantoon says:

    CAPTCHA the flag?

    You have my interest. And my jetpack, because I’m going to take that flag.

  26. LionsPhil says:

    What we need is for everyone to be RFID chipped at birth with a large private key, the public half of which is registered with the government, and then only accept comments which are correctly cryptographically signed. By destroying all anonymity on the Internet and locking out foreigners, we can solve this problem once and for all!

    Also it could be used to authenticate to your Steam account.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Of course RFID communication can be electromagnetically overheard pretty trivially.. but sorry for ruining the joke.

      • LionsPhil says:

        (Well, the whole point of PKI is that the private key never leaves the device. A token, such as the hash of the post, is signed in-place.)

  27. absolofdoom says:

    Eh, what about mobile devices?
    And imagine a chinese/japanese/russian/etc version of this, where you can’t read it and you can’t type it into google to translate it. I think there’s a lot of problems with the idea, although I guess it’s amusing.

  28. terry says:

    I thought RPS did this already, I remember having to solve a jigsaw of a frog that I couldn’t click on and JW mocked me :(

  29. Dave Mongoose says:

    I don’t see this working because the images are too distinctive…

    Image analysis can identify them easily and it wouldn’t take long for a spambot programmer to identify all of the items and games unless more are being added constantly.

    Not to mention that a lot of it is being done with javascript, so I imagine that it wouldn’t take much digging to find a way to ‘break’ it.