Friday, May 21, 2010

Can You Say CAPTCHA?

When I wrote a post titled “What’s Up with Visual ID?” a few weeks ago, I had no idea the appropriate technical term was CAPTCHA. I should have become suspicious when my Google search for Visual ID turned up almost nothing related to those squiggly distorted words and numbers that tell a computer you are a person.

Had I searched for CAPTCH, an acronym which roughly stands for “Completely Automated Public Test to Tell Computer and Humans Apart, I would have found a lot more dirt on this spam busting creation, including the whole CAPTCHAs history in Wikipedia.

Having the appropriate term did not change much about my understanding of these little enigmatic pieces of text that are practically impossible to identify if your vision is impaired, and even difficult to identify if it’s not. I was not surprised to learn that people in the business of accessible technology, at Google, Apple and Microsoft, harbor a deep dislike of the CAPTCHAs, as do I.

So, do me a favor, try a couple of CAPTCHAs on the live demo at reCAPTCHA…and try out the “audio challenge” while you’re there. What do you think? Have you seen, or heard, any better ways to prove you’re only a human.

I was surprised to read that some 200 million CAPTCHAs are solved every day.

Makes me wonder how many aren’t solved?