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.
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.