CAPTCHA Tests: Is There a Catch?
You may not be familiar with the term CAPTCHA, but you have very likely encountered them and do know what they are. CAPTCHAs are the often funky-looking graphics (usually words or letters) used to ensure that responses are generated by actual humans. These tests prevent unwanted internet bots from accessing websites, since most people can read a CAPTCHA, but bots cannot translate the image and as a result can’t correctly answer the question.
Recently we were asked how you insert a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) into a Clicktools survey, which in this case was a sign-up form.
Our answer was: “Why use a CAPTCHA?”
As someone who considers herself lucky to have reasonably good eyesight, I often fail to work out CAPTCHAs . The time it takes to solve these puzzles deters me more than having to share my email address. Frequently it does make me walk away from pages. Surely, I am not the only one. We’re not telling you to definitely not use them, but do consider your options prior to inserting a CAPTCHA because you are not only deterring machines, but perhaps also putting off potential respondents.
So what do you do instead? Using Clicktools you could:
- Insert an extra page at the end of the sign up that allows the user to confirm their information by submitting again. Machines seem to struggle with a change in page.
- Add an additional question that people can’t see using a CSS class, setting the display to ”none.” When the computer comes across it (e.g., Answer this if you are a computer ;)), it will complete it and you’ll know it was a bot.
As you consider the potential perils of using CAPTCHAs, take a look at this post by John M. Willis on the 10 worst.