Why CAPTCHAs Are a Waste of Time

June 16, 2008

Posted in Web Industry.

I left this comment in response to HighEdWebTech’s post, Exterminating Form Spam and decided it was worth sharing here.

In my opinion, CAPTCHAs are a “rock and a hard place” kind of idea. They can be effective against spammers, but are increasingly frustrating for real users. But as it happens, real users are the ones you care the most about.

Isn’t it more important to take care of these users, even at the risk of a bit of spam?

Meanwhile, there are lots of little tricks that knock out the majority of spam submissions, such as hidden (or display:none) fields – scripts don’t know any better and fill them in, so you can eliminate any that have that field filled. Or possibly relying on Javascript methods for submission, which most scripts will not support and parse.