Somewhere in the deepest bowels of hell there sits an evil imp collecting royalties every time a frustrated human gives up trying to leave a comment on a blog because he can't decipher the garbled string of letters that is the CAPTCHA.
There, I said it. I hate the CAPTCHA.
The purpose of this mishmash of letters all crammed together so that it's impossible to tell "l o" from "b", or "m n" from "n m" (sometimes they're so garbled they no longer resembled anything close to the English alphabet), is supposedly to prevent spam -- to ensure the entity leaving the comment, or answering a poll question, is human. Well, I submit to you that only a machine can make heads or tails out of the majority of those compressed, squiggled, damnedable verification roadblocks.
If you go to the Official CAPTCHA Website, you will see an example of a CAPTCHA.
Easy, huh? Just type: "overlooks inquiry" and you're in. Simple. Easy. So what's my problem? Why did I wake up this morning feeling the overwhelming need to rant? Well, because I had a dream last night. I dreamed I was reading the blog of a very famous author, and a comment occurred to me that I knew would make this author sit up and take notice of my overwhelming understanding of the written word (I said it was a dream, didn't I?). Try as I might, I could NOT reproduce the letters to get past the CAPTCHA. For you see, no CAPTCHA I've ever encountered looks like the example given on the official website. Have you ever ran across one that easy to decipher? What a grand idea it would have been had they only made them that easy.
I just went to a blog I follow by the very talented Laura Howard and left her a comment because I know she uses the CAPTCHA system when someone leaves a comment. Personally, I think she does it just to annoy me, but that's fodder for another rant. Here is an actual CAPTCHA puzzle I was presented with at her blog:
Now tell me: does that look anything remotely like the example from the official website? It looks like someone vomited alphabet soup. And what's with the dark stuff on the right? Is something written in there? Actually, to be perfectly honest, I can make this one out. At Laura's website, though, I absolutely could not see anything in the one of the right. Here, after posting it as an image, I can see that it is "332". At the website, though, nothing.
Surely there has to be a better, more humane, way to separate us humans from the bots. I'm all for a system that would identify a bot, then generate a surge of signal so strong it would blow the top off their microprocessor.
Every now and then I follow someone on Twitter (I'm @CarlPurdon plug plug) who uses TrueTwit validation. For a while they used these split pictures where you had to move a slider until the picture lined up and made sense. It was so easy. Simple. Until I tried it on my smartphone. Impossible. Last time I validated with TrueTwit (which has been a long time ago) they were back to using the regurgitated alphabet soup method of validation.
I made up the dream. That part was a piece of fiction I threw in to help make my point. In the writing world, we don't call that lying -- we call it creative license. Everything else is true, especially the part where I said I hate CAPTCHA.