Monday, June 3, 2013

What are Captchas?

It is a usual task nowadays to sign up and log in and out of a number of websites. And I as go with this random task I often encounter these Captcha codes that often than not delays my online action. Before I go mumbling about my thoughts on Captchas I think it is necessary to discuss what it is.

What are Captchas?
Captcha as per Wikipedia is an initialism for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” Now that we know the words behind the initials, what are Captchas for? Captchas are words and numbers that are often distorted in appearance and color. These are words that are generated to basically determine if the user is human or not. This is primarily important for the protection of various information’s that are available on the internet and to also prevent bot-generated spams in forums, emails and other online messaging boards.

Is it important?
I believe it has its obvious importance especially in preventing spammers to run their script on a website, blog or forum. In this day and age it is common knowledge to be wary of your online property, so it is very understandable that people would want to add these Captcha codes on their sites.

However as a simple minded user of the internet I would want to state some of the usual issues that I get with Captchas and along with that are some suggestions as well.

Simplify it a little
We often see a number of convoluted Captchas that will actually take time to solve. I remember going through four Captchas before getting the right one for an account registration. I understand that it is for bot prevention but be duly considerate and understand how time consuming complex looking Captcha codes are.

Don’t twist it too much
Second thing, it is ok to create a little distortion to a Captcha. This will actually strengthen your defense against spammers. However, do not overly warp these words into incomprehensible looking words because it might deter some people to continue their support to your site due to this uncompromising thing.

An audio Captcha is a good alternative
With all the twists and turns of a usual Captcha code it is good to try an alternative that will also be a good bot block. And an audio captcha is one of those good alternatives because it provides a clear and concise audio for spam protection. But keep in mind to maintain simplicity in these audios because spelling error may be prevalent because of the audio Captchas complexity.

A numerical problem solving Captcha is another good alternative
When it comes to Captcha codes I welcome the numerical problem solving type because it is more stimulating for the mind. Even though these are simple mathematical problems it is still much better than guessing if the distorted lower case letter is a, e or b.

I am all for the protection of one’s online property and I do understand the need for Captchas in a number of instances but a little tweak on its look and means should also be considered.