How to preserve literary treasures…and your users’ sanity

Looking for a way to irritate the heck out of visitors to your website? Make them decipher one of these garbled, cryptic CAPTCHAs during the registration process:

I pulled the image above from the registration page for an online ice hockey forum. (I’m in the market for some new gear and needed advice from other players.) After a few minutes of squinting, some cursing and several failed attempts at typing in the correct series of letters, numbers and hieroglyphics,  I gave up and moved on to a competing forum, where I got the information I was looking for.

What a lost opportunity.

I understand the value of these CAPTCHAs, a hilariously nerdy acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” In other words, they screen out spammers.  But there’s no reason to subject your users to such torture.

Check out the version of CAPTCHA used by sites like Craigslist:

See? Nice and legible.

The best part? This newer version, dubbed reCAPTCHA, is more than just a spam bot screener: it’s part of a global effort to help digitize books, newspapers and old radio shows.  Each time someone completes a reCAPTCHA on a site like Craigslist, they’ve actually helped digitize a small piece of scanned text from an old book or other piece of content that computers can’t always recognize.

So do your users – and the world – a favor and upgrade your site.  Here’s the pain-free registration form.

Mike Pilarz


5 Responses

  1. Agreed, 100%. I’ve seen a couple of sites with the first CAPTCHA image shown and I’ve made it a point to never go to a site like that again if I can help it.

  2. Ugh. A friend of mine has one for her wee little Typepad blog and it’s pretty silly. Part of me thinks she only does it to make her blog appear more fancy or exclusive or something.

    Anyway, I now rarely comment because of this. Ridiculous.

  3. Great point, Heather. I run away screaming from almost any blog the requires me to register – let a lone decipher a CAPTCHA – before commenting.

  4. Love this post, Mike. So funny. : )

  5. I can see that you are an expert in this area. I am starting a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.

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