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When did captchas become a pain in the arse?

A recent post on Signal vs Noise made this interesting point:


And it’s very true, captchas are getting harder to work out. I was on the Steam forums the other day searching for info on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. I’d installed it on my old machine and obviously since I’d now switched to my iMac I wanted to run it (via my Vista installation under Boot Camp) but was having no such luck. So I wanted to check the forums for any answers. Thing is, there’s a captcha there, and could I get it right? Nope. Here’s what it looks like in situ:


And here’s a few more of them, see if you can work them out!

  • SteamCaptcha1 – PXREMM?
  • SteamCaptcha2 – 6CTYJX?
  • SteamCaptcha3 – aWQTSY?
  • SteamCaptcha4 – hXAGQp?
  • SteamCaptcha5 – gGH828?

I think I’ve got the answers on these right, but they’re not easy to read and you have to really concentrate! Funny thing is that I didn’t manage to get any right on the Steam forums…

Is this just the result of the spammers getting better at writing software to decipher them now? The entry on Wikipedia certainly seems to agree and it’s a sad state of affairs because all is does is inconvenience those of us who just want to use a system.

Gom Jabbar said,

September 14, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

That’s why Microsoft and others are working on new ways for Captchas, take a look at their project Asirra.


It’s kinda funny but if it works out: Cats and dogs ftw!

Gom Jabbar said,

September 14, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

Oh yeah, there’s also KittenAuth:


Paul said,

September 14, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

Funny but we were discussing this at work today. Our contact forms are getting a lot of spam and we did mention KittenAuth. The only problem with it, is the pictures it uses, since on a company / business website having a bunch of cats and dogs is a bit unprofessional… which brought up discussion of using images related to our industry… and… well it snowballed and I said lets keep it simple and try captchas.net for a start and see if that works :)

Btw, thanks for the links. I shall investigate further!

Gom Jabbar said,

September 14, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

I can spam you with loads of links on this topic. :)

I always wanted to delve into this a bit more but only managed to gather a couple of links and papers up to now.

Paul said,

September 14, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

For my minor research project last year I did a bit of research into the topic too. Can’t remember now what I wrote / found out though :)

Bal said,

September 14, 2007 @ 1:55 pm

I had to find my friggin calculator to post this stupid comment! DAMN YOU!

Pope said,

September 19, 2007 @ 9:29 am

i knew they didnt teach math in france

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