Your CAPTCHA Crash Course - Carney
The Daily Carnage

Your CAPTCHA Crash Course

You have probably used them a million times or have implemented them on your own website – the good ol’ CAPTCHA.

Maybe you’re a web newbie. No judgment. Let’s review what CAPTCHAs are used for:

  • Maintaining poll accuracy
  • Limiting registration for services
  • Preventing ticket inflation/bulk buys
  • Preventing false comments

Basically, wherever a bot can lurk, you want a CAPTCHA to fend them off. Sounds good right? Sometimes they can get in the way of a beautiful user experience or become clunky. BUT there are plenty of options nowadays.

Let’s break ‘em down!

Text-based CAPTCHAs: The OG human verification methods. These CAPTCHAs can use known words or phrases, or random combinations of digits and letters. Different methods will distort or colorize them.

Image-based CAPTCHAs: These were developed to replace text-based by using recognizable graphical elements, such as photos of animals, shapes, or scenes. While easy for humans to understand, they can pose accessibility issues for visually impaired users.

Audio CAPTCHAs: The alternative for accessibility to visually impaired users. These are often used in combination with text or image-based CAPTCHAs. Audio CAPTCHAs give a userr an audio recording of a series of characters to enter.

Math or Word Problems: Ew. Math. Luckily these keep it basic like “3+4.” Another variant is a word problem, asking the user to complete a sentence.

Not CAPTCHAs, but like, kinda:

Social Media Sign In: This requires users to sign in using a social profile such as Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn. Details will automatically fill in using single sign-on (SSO) functionality provided by the social media website.

No CAPTCHA ReCAPTCHA: These usually provide a checkbox saying “I am not a robot” which users need to select – and that’s it. If the test fails, reCAPTCHA provides a traditional image selection CAPTCHA as a fallback. Google is a huge fan of these (so are we) and has a variety of fast and “invisible” reCAPTCHA options.

Imperva, a cybersecurity company, gives the full scoop on CAPTCHAs in their article (no human verification needed).


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