Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Apr 28

CAPTCHAS Suck and How to Make Them Suck Less

Did you know that CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”? Probably not. When you think about these tools to stop spam on websites that use some type of forms — blog comments and forums are among the most heavily targeted — you probably sigh in frustration.  Most of us recognize that CAPTCHAS are a necessary evil when it comes to protecting our websites. As visitors, we robotically type the words we see in the images into a form and press “Enter.”

Solve Media CAPTCHA failHowever, this is easier said than done. In fact, CAPTCHAs are so problematic that some people have called for website owners to stop using CAPTCHAs all together.

When you tell a story with CAPTCHAs, like Blogger did, it makes it easier for the visitor to understand.

CAPTCHAs should never use the letter “O”. It can be too easily confused with the number 0, especially when using certain fonts.

If you want people with disabilities to communicate with you, a CAPTCHA that has an audio component is a must. Otherwise, people who use screenreaders won’t be able to comment.

CAPTCHAS need the ability to refresh them. Sometimes it’s just too difficult to read the current code, but we’ll lose our lengthy comment or form input if we refresh.

CAPTCHAs should never be cap sensitive, especially on mobile devices because it’s hard to change between lowercase and capitalized letters. If, for some reason, you cannot avoid this, please make note that your CAPTCHA is case sensitive. There’s one blog that I frequently visit and like to comment on, but every single time I try to leave a comment, the CAPTCHA form rejects me and tells me to try again because it is case sensitive but doesn’t say so.

CAPTCHAs on mobile devices are generally a bad idea. Biz Report talked about this years ago. At the time, retail websites that used CAPTCHAs lost 2/3 of their customers. Do you think that your website offers something so fantastic that people want to enter CAPTCHAS? Probably not. Consider a CAPTCHA that you can disable for mobile visitors. If spam is such a problem that you cannot do this, there are mobile-friendly options:

After installing a CAPTCHA tool, make sure to test it in your own site, in multiple browsers and on different devices. If you cannot easily post a comment, others will run into the same problems.

However, you really don’t need to use CAPTCHAs at all. Really. If you want an alternative to CAPTCHAs, consider some of the popular options.

A math equation requires users to read and answer a similar problem. They typically have to type no more than 2 characters (numbers).

Let Akismet catch your spam comments. It’s the only solution I use on some of my blogs.

Try a plugin such as Growmap Antispam, which requires users to select a checkbox and can be mobile friendly.

There are literally dozens of anti-spam plugins available for WordPress. In fact, WordPress has so many options to help you stop spam without installing plugins, that you will rarely have a need for a CAPTCHA.

So, please, do us all a favor and use CAPTCHAs only as a last resort!


4 comments on “CAPTCHAS Suck and How to Make Them Suck Less”

  1. “If you want people with disabilities to communicate with you, a CAPTCHA that has an audio component is a must. Otherwise, people who” – people who what???

  2. Woops!

  3. Solve media are pretentious idiots who make these too complicated to read…

    we should start banning companys who use the pretentious pricks.

  4. This could very well be the case, but your complaints don’t appear legitimate when you can’t even use a real name.

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