Are captchas going away?

A few years ago I came across those damned complex captcha fairly often. You know, the ones with half a dozen fonts, letters at all angles and overlapping each other, etc. But I realized I haven’t seen one in a long time. I still come across those “I’m not a robot” boxes but all they need is a check mark.

As part of my job, I regularly log onto the websites of county level court clerks to look up cases. I frequently have to respond to one of those things.

Another place I see it all the time is the website where you can check the status of a Florida driver’s license. You can see it if you click on the link below (ETA: that cite will always tell you that you entered incorrectly the first time you do it):

Amazon. A lot. Thanks, VPN.

The ones I get to see now for overseas sites are just a check box next to “I am not a robot”. The Chinese sites have a pretty picture with one small chunk of it cut out and placed on the left side and a slider under the picture for the user to slide the piece of the picture to the right until it is in the correct place at which point the user is deemed to be human.

I’ve lately actually noticed a new company doing them that won’t just let me get by with the checkmark. I noticed it first on Discord (a chat service), then later on eBay. The one on Discord was particularly annoying because it always required two sets any time you’d log in. It even required you to fill it out again if you wanted to leave feedback, even if I was already logged in.

On eBay, at least, it was only one set of pictures to select, and only once per device. Still, I prefer Google’s version which notices my Google account and that I’m a real person with 2-factor authentication, so probably not a spambot.

To the OP, yes, they are going away.

Of course, there are many many sites which still use them, and still more no doubt being designed right now that use them, because not all UX designers are as good as they should be, but they’re slowly being replaced by ‘I am not a robot’ for the very simple reason that captchas are not accessible to visually impaired people.

And that makes them poor practice for any web experience - particularly government sites which ought to be ashamed of themselves.

I always hate when you have to do a captcha to log into a site, but if you fail the website doesn’t tell you what failed, the password or the captcha.

The “I am not a robot” thing is the Captcha. That’s literally what it’s called. It’s just that it’s step 1. If it can track you enough to figure out you’re a human, it will just accept it. If it can’t, then it will show those same annoying images.

Funny, I just ran into one of these for the first time this morning. A bit more entertaining than clicking on stop lights.

That must by what I am experiencing. On one site I always had to run through a couple of series of “click on every photo with an automobile”. Now I just check the box. But I now have gmail and that associates me with lots of stuff.

Yes, that’s true, even for older people whose eyesight is not as good as it used to be. They are probably legal violations of US Federal ADA requirements.

But the other reason is that there services in 3rd world countries that provide scammers with humans-on-demand to fill one of these in. They work by having people sitting at their computer doing whatever, but signed in with this scam service – when a scammer or spambot encounters a captcha, it is automatically forwarded to one of their employees and pops up on their computer – they answer it, and the answer is forwarded to the scammer/spambot, who supplies it as the “I’m a human” answer to the site he’s trying to access. The human employee is credited with a small amount (a penny or less for each captcha he correctly answers.

So they aren’t very effective in excluding scammers/spambots, but are annoying to real customers (some percent of whom just go away to a competitor’s website). Thus they are falling out of favor.

This looks like a job for Amazon Mechanical Turk!

For text captchas that’s not even necessary any more.
Text recognition algorithms have got very, very good in the deep learning era, and it’s very hard to find methods where a human can quickly read the text and a bot cannot.

I use a VPN and visit a lot of non-U.S. sites and see it a lot.

I have a Kobo e-reader (when I got it, it was a Canadian company; now it is Japanese). Starting about two years ago, if you go to their web site to buy a book, they won’t let you check out until you have completed a captcha. Not one of those, “What twisted letter is this?”, but rather one of those, “Which of these little tiny squares contains a car?” My eyes are sufficiently bad that I could never get through those captchas. My wife could do them, so she helped. Fortunately, I discovered a different way to avoid it. But I cannot imagine why a company would go to so much effort to prevent sales. Had I not found another way, I would have thrown it away and moved to Kindle.

Just yesterday I signed on to a site that asked me to complete "5+5 = ". Cool. I can do that in my head.


But anything more than that, and I have to take off my shoes.

Maybe that’s why they’re going away.

Next thing you know, they’ll make you solve a complicated differential equation to get in.

Good. My wife hates them and what have they got against robots, anyway?

I still see them frequently. The most frustrating one was this past summer - when it did that on a work-related site. Multiple times a day - and most of them, it was really tough to find the thing (bit of crosswalk etc.).

“Find Waldo to proceed.”