When CAPTCHA goes mad

September 2, 2020

WordPress web design CAPTCHA gone wrongCAPTCHA gone mad

Michael McIntyre got it right when I saw him at Plymouth Pavilions earlier this year:

"Who invented the test? You know, the one where you have to guess the letters from the weird cryptic clue, it looks mental. A bunch of jumbled up letters hidden within each other that sound like wouasiatrump62. Finally you think ahh yes I have it, what a clever man I am. You press submit with hope in your eyes and a message pops up saying "Sorry you're too thick, please try again". WHAT A WASTE OF YOUR LIFE!"

I do agree that CAPTCHAS have gone mad.

CAPTCHAs were once a good way to stop spam on your email forms. But spam bots are now so advanced that CAPTCHA developers are having to make them so incomprehensble that real people can't read them either! And from what I've heard, this isn't even one of the more extreme examples (please post your own examples in the comments below)!

Check out the above example that I came across when buying a WordPress web design theme on ThemeForest. It seems they wanted me to type an essay as a reward for buying the rather excellent RT-17 theme!

The latest CAPTCHAs are just as likely to deter real customers as spam bots, which no one wants. They just don't work any more and if spam bots can read CAPTCHAs just as easily as people then it's time to move on.

There are more and more viable alternatives to the standard CAPTCHA. I won't go into these here as plenty of other bloggers have written about them (Google 'Alternatives to CAPTCHA and you'll find plenty). The alternatives include skill testing (e.g. "what is 2 + 2?"), simple but fun tasks and image puzzles, checkbox CAPTCHA, honeypot CAPTCHA, etc.

And finally...

This will be my last post before Christmas, so I'd just like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Best wishes for 2013.


  1. Chris
    May 26, 2013 Reply

    Have you checked out FunCaptcha for Wordpress? https://wordpress.org/plugins/funcaptcha/
    It's a much better alternative to the random text captcha's that EVERYONE hates!

    • Katie
      May 29, 2013 Reply

      Thanks for the link, Chris!

  2. Robby
    March 15, 2013 Reply

    Nice article, I totally agree with both you and the excellent Michael, Captchas are crazy nowadays - especially the puzzle type where you have to assemble the image..I never even liked puzzles when I was eight!
    So what's the future going to bring? Perhaps Gravatar could save our souls by authenticating users and banning those who spam, then us WordPress users could limit comments to Gravatar users only (or at least keep non Gravatar member comments in the queue for moderation)? Or maybe we could beat the spammers by having an IP blacklist that we all sumbit a loser too; that blacklist could be coded into a plugin we all use on our WP sites and thus auto-block comments from known spammers...hmmmm...or perhaps we could all just buy a tonne of Viagra, marry a random Russian lady and all live happily ever after :)

    • Katie
      March 21, 2013 Reply

      Thanks for the comment. Not sure how you got from CAPTCHAS to Viagra, but you're obviously having a bad day... I like the Gravatar idea, you should email them.

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