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Why CAPTCHA isn’t always bad

If you dislike CAPTCHA, welcome to a very large crowd. Scientific studies show more than half of all humans suspect they are at least part robot because of the trouble they have making it through the CAPTCHA gauntlet. Is that a traffic light or a pelican? If it’s your pages and forms that are being bombarded by bots, however, CAPTCHA looks a lot better.

First, CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. (Perhaps SNAP for Stop Nasty Automaton Pestering was too brief and catchy.) Screen capture of a captcha page CAPTCHA is a basic challenge-response step we often take to prove to a web form that we are real flesh and blood.

Second, the internet teems with bots. More internet traffic comes from bots than from humans. But not all bots are bad.  For example, Google bots index web content, like this article, to make it easier to find. If that work were left to humans, we would all be in a world of hurt. When a new Indian restaurant opens in Anchorage, Alaska, it could go out of business before a human properly indexed it for searches.

Third, malicious bots are a whole different can of worms. Bad bots seek ways to get around page security for nefarious purposes such as scraping emails and personal information. Even if they don’t succeed in circumventing security, their activity can cause mischief in ways such as slowing loading times for legitimate visitors. Bots can also skew web analytics. It may look like a web page is getting a high level of quality traffic, but a lot of it could be the result of bad bots.

CAPTCHA can’t eliminate 100% of spam, but it can limit it. If your web forms are seeing a lot of suspicious or downright fake submissions, CAPTCHA can be a simple way to reduce it. Learning Stream registration forms include a simple box to check before submitting a form that doesn’t already require login credentials. We are proud to say it’s not the CAPTCHA that requires you to be an expert in hieroglyphics or to be able to identify the number of traffic lights in a grid.

If you would like to know more, please contact us here.

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