Monday, October 19, 2009


I've been catching up on my blog reading, and I wanted to comment on a blog that I enjoy. I wrote my comment, and then got to the CAPTCHA, which had several letters, some dark, some light, and the light characters seemed to be near-duplicates of the dark characters. Oh, and the CAPTCHA required that you "respect" case when you entered the CAPTCHA.

I took my best guess - and failed.

I actually took my best guess several times - and failed, and my comment was queued for moderation.

Now to be fair, the site might have intentionally implemented tough CAPTCHAs to encourage people to become members of the site. But I'm a member of enough sites already - if I didn't join Digg until it became available via Facebook Connect, I'm not about to join a standalone blog site.

But it turns out that the CAPTCHA that stumped me was nothing compared to some other CAPTCHAs out there. Take a look at these CAPTCHAs, posted by SEOSmarty on an unknown date. (SEOSmarty's brain was probably hurting so much from the CAPTCHA solving attempts that he/she didn't bother to date the post.)

Gerald Weber of Search Engine Marketing Group (this time, in a dated post from December 27, 2008) points out that this practice could potentially harm you.

As business owners, bloggers and/or search marketers, we all go through pain staking efforts to get qualified traffic to our websites from the SERPS, Paid search and our various social media outlets. However all this effort and hard work may be in vain if our users are not able to easily fill out our contact form(s). Sure the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) or as I like to call it CPA (Complete Pain in the A**) is intended to solve a valid business problem, but at what cost? Should we really make customers/prospects work this hard to contact us? Not to mention by using a CAPTCHA you will be alienating multiple groups with disabilities i.e. blind people and people with dyslexia.

After pointing out that there are other ways to combat spam without alienating real users, Weber makes the following point (in all bold in the original):

Please don’t make me work as if I am trying to crack a security code for the computer banks at NASA!
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