Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Breaking up with CAPTCHA


K, I’ve had it. The last straw is broken. I went to comment on a blog the other day, and the audio version of the Completely Automatic Public Touring Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart (more commonly known as CAPTCHA…because no one wants to say the entire name) didn’t even work. How useful.

For those of you who haven’t read past posts where I’ve mentioned it, I’m legally blind and, thus, unable to operate the visual CAPTCHA challenge. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if the audio challenges worked. Actually, that’s a lie. They aren’t even helpful when they work. What would fix this? Oh I don’t know, maybe the audio challenges being the same difficulty as the visual challenges? As it is, I can’t comment on anything that uses CAPTCHA to “Please prove you’re not a robot” because the audio challenges are impossible.

Here’s how it works for me. I go to a site. I comment. I click publish (which in a normal universe publishes something). Then I think I’m set…but no. CAPTCHA pops up and asks me to prove I’m human. Fine. Click the “get an audio challenge button.” If I’m lucky, sound comes out. I’m greeted with either a series of beeps, presumably as a warning to get ready to listen, or a too-cheerful automated voice telling me to “please type every digit you hear. Spaces are not required.” Then some garbled-beyond-recognition noise starts up that I have to listen to while typing. Did I mention that my screen reader speaks everything I type? So now I’m trying to listen to the next number while I’m typing the previous number and….

Oeiorgiongieoghuiwegweiojgeiwgoiwengoiwejf!!!!! Owegowengoiewhguewbgowegoijwoef!!!

You get the idea.

And to top it all off, the audio CAPTCHA’s are barely understandable. Don’t believe me? Let’s sample a few.

Here’s an example of one that gives numbers.

I encounter this one somewhat often. It’s not too bad, but it’s not great. They give me the digits twice, and I always think I’ve got it right. Then I click submit, and it says to try again.

I heard the following numbers: 71385830257


K, moving on. The one above was a sometimes. Unfortunately, what I get is more often like this.

Yeah, I don’t know either.

I think this is the type that asks me to “type every word you here.” And then gives me like ten words. Because the visual challenge asks its readers to read ten words. It’s what? 2, 3 at most?

I’m not even going to try and decipher this. Feel free to try and leave your guess as a comment.

Then there’s this one. Holy CAPTCHA, Bat Man! Is that understandable?

I’m pretty sure I got this one right.


Neat, huh?

And only found on YouTube.

Yes, the one that I’m the most certain of is the one I’ve never actually encountered in an actual CAPTCHA-necessary situation. Go figure.

“But, Mary. JAWS (Job Access with Speech) now comes with Convenient OCR, which is image recognition software that allows text to be read from pictures.”

Except not CAPTCHA images

Because reasons.

K, I’ve ranted and quite nicely if I do say so myself. This is usually the part where readers (either to me or in their minds) say something along the lines of “k, you’ve complained. What are you going to do now?”

Short answer—I’ll contact CAPTCHA, which I imagine will have little impact because I can’t be the only legally blind/blind person who’s ever complained. And look how much that’s done.

But then again, I can’t think of a better way to audio challenge people. My guess is that CAPTCHA can’t either, hence the stuff featured above. Rest assured, though, if I think of something better, you’ll see the MAPTCHA test all over the internet—Mary’s Apparently Possible Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.



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