Is it me or are you starting to feel less human too?

Captchas, or those annoying pictures at the bottom of forms that are supposed to prove that you are human, are everywhere. CAPTCHA stands for “Create A Picture to Chastise Humanity’s Aptitude”. You know what I’m talking about, you must enter the displayed text that looks like a drunk epileptic wrote during their first Taiwanese writing lesson and then was photocopied 13,000 times before photographed by a broken Polaroid and emailed to the site over dial-up. And I’m not human unless I can read this? No one can read this, not even the drunk epileptic who first wrote it!

The ironic thing is that Captchas are becoming so difficult to read, we’re going to need to start using computers, with their vast processing powers, to decipher these images, thereby proving that computers are actually human and we are not. The social networking sites will then be overrun with computers and we all know that computers have no personality (which I guess the Captchas were originally there to prevent) and pretty soon us humans will be caste into doing what the computers think is boring remedial work, which I can only guess is coming up with more Captchas…

My point to this article is not that we are becoming less human, but that Captchas are becoming too difficult. Case in point, the following are a couple “Craptchas” I have come across recently:


I can sort of guess the first word, but that second word looks like something a 3-year old would write. A possessed 3-year old. Here’s another:

Captcha2 OK, this one you could sort of guess; I’m thinking “wrans”? But of course, that was wrong, so you tell me what it should be.

Captcha3 This one just takes the cake. First of all, I was trying to get ASSISTANCE. The last thing you want to do as a company is make it as challenging as possible for a customer to get assistance. I guess their idea of assistance is letting me know that the letters are not case-sensitive. It took me 13 tries (no joke) before I was able to get assistance from this Captcha.

Well, instead of berating on Captchas all day, I will now offer some very helpful suggestions on how we can do away with these demonic tests and replace them with something that really will tell the difference between humans and computers. Here is a list of 10 alternatives to Captchas:

1. Ask the user how he or she feels about his or her mother-in-law.

2. Base your questions on stereotypes. Show three pictures, each with a person of a different race. Then ask questions such as “Which one of these people is most likely to graduate college?” or “Which one of these people is more likely to sue you for sexual harassment?” or “Which one of these people would have the best street hookups for Ritalin?”

3. Ask “What is the funniest human bodily function”. I’d love to see a computer answer that one! No, really, I would.

4. Ask “What is the most annoying thing about the Post Office”. Ironically, the answer is the antiquated computers, but that would require a sense of self reflection we’ve never seen in a computer…

5. Ask the user “Does this dress make me look fat?” Really, you HAVE to be human to answer that one properly- computers are WAY too logical for that one. Actually, it seems like I’ve gotten this one wrong on many occasions, so maybe this one isn’t so good.

6. Give your computer the answer. It would be interesting just to see what would happen if they could guess it.

7. Ask the user to play a game of chess. Whoever loses is the human.

8. Ask the user to enter a new password. If they enter “Password” you know it’s a human.

9. Ask the user to type in the following sentence: “the quik broun focks jumpd ovr the lazi turtl.” No computer could STAND not spell-checking that sentence!!!

10. Ask if they are a computer. Duh.