PSA: reCaptcha

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This is a generic public service announcement for those of you who don't understand what word verification (officially known as CAPTCHAs) are. I've seen complaints around the Internet that show a considerable lack of knowledge, especially where reCAPTCHAs are concerned.

So, consider the following "word verifcation" whose format is common on Blogger/Google products:

Notice how it has two words, not one, and that one of these words is actually a photo? Notice also how I typed the word, but did not type the photo. That's because on reCaptchas, verifying the photo is optional. You still need to verify the garbled word. Why is this? The photo is a snippet of either a scanned book or a Google Streetview (or whatever) snapshot that the automatic software cannot read. You can read more about what Google says about reCaptcha, here. The reCaptcha website talks exclusively about scanning books, although now I suspect it's being used to identify signage and street addresses from Google Streetview, which would make sense given our example image above.

So, the short story is, if you can't read the word verification or it's a symbol, that's because Google is relying on large quantities of humans to identify things their word identification algorithms cannot. On the bright side, they're generally optional as the computer does not actually know the correct answer (that's why it's asking you, a human). Sometimes, the algorithm incorrectly "sees" a word, and if it's not actually a word you don't have to worry, as it's optional!

Long story short: everyone, keep your pants on.


Anonymous said...

I think it still needs to go. I hate trying to figure out the garbled word and really, if you have that much trouble with spammers...moderate your comments before they publish.

My opinion anyway.

missris said...

My pants are still firmly in the "on" position.

Jillian said...

Good to know! I'll be sure to remember this when I see it.

I use a great plugin called Akismet, which automatically filters out the spam comments for you. It is a LIFESAVER. And no word verification or anything like that. Although, I'm not sure if it's available for Blogger. Maybe only Wordpress? Not sure, but it's a wonderful plugin to consider.

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