Retire CAPTCHA style thinking, please


Author: slger

Susan L. Gerhart (slger) is a retired computer scientist. Her professional specialities included software engineering research, technology transfer management, and computer science education, see SLGer's Research Autobiography. Susan is active in a lifelong learning institute (OLLI) at Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona. She has facilitated courses on podcasts, Twitter, the Singularity, and climate fiction. "As Your World Changes" blog describes her journey with vision loss into the spectacular world of assistive technology and the frustrating practices of accessibility. She writes with the NVDA screen reader, reads books from Bookshare on a BookSense, and listens to podcasts on an iPhone. slger123 on Twitter records her favorite articles and occasional comments on life and politics. Creative writing courses led her to undertake "A Chip On Her Shoulder", a novel asking the questions: "how did we get into the privacy mess of modern social media?" and "Are we now just 'packets of data formerly known as people'?" She's enduring the 2020 Pandemic era and autocracy challenge by analyzing changes in progress, promising, and unknown. Times sure are changing! Contact: slger123 at

5 thoughts on “Retire CAPTCHA style thinking, please”

  1. And now the take down of CAPTCHA
    Breaking CAPTCHA with Automated Humans

    Sad exploitation of web workers paid $.001 per CAPTCHA in return for false security on web sites. Also, causing collateral damage to visually and cognitively impaired, otherwise equal, humans.

    Article contains script and interesting data from experiements. Via @DaveWiner on Twitter.

    Shame on computing professionals for poor empirical investigations compounded by not so subtle discrimination.

  2. Ha, the White House got pushback on its use of a visual and undecipherable (by humans) audio challenge. Blind people seeking to sign a petition regarding an international treaty on sharing books legally got stopped by the CAPTCHA. And complaining ensued:

    Rock bottom for CAPTCHA

    and Huffington Post on “We the People” (NOT)

    Even one (probably automated) computer professional news service took note

    Who claims origin of CAPTCHA? Often honored by ACM and fellowships, the prize seems to go to

    Personally, I would bestow a sentence of several days solving these so-called CAPTCHA with broadcast to visually impaired folks who have long suffered their abuse and denial of services.

    In response to push-back from visually impaired citizens, the challenge yesterday was a logic puzzle, like arithmetic facts or “If tomorrow is Tuesday, what is today?”. Got that one right the first time! The rest of the account creation process was confusing but eventually I seemed to have signed the petition all by myself with not a swear word along the way.

    While this might not be the tipping point against these sensory challenges, the question remains if there is still any business case given the availability of cheap web workers. A good counter-example to audio-visual CAPTCHA is the Akismet service long used successfully by WordPress to trap bots into comment spam lists. Did the audio-visual CAPTCHA ever really work or was it simply a hex sign to ward off visually impaired folks, like me.

    No matter the outcome of this worthy squabble, people who considered these CAPTCHA as human aggrandizing were merely demeaning millions of people with sensory deficits, many of us with superior computing skills that enabled equal use of the Internet provided the minimal quality of accessibility on most websites. Shameful!

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