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This is the first time I've ever seen this issue on SOFU, so probably doesn't require any attention, but I may as well bring it to community, just in case it happens more frequently.

I got the captcha below when editing a question:

Captcha fun

I just took a random stab at what the 2nd word was and I must have got it right, but I had to do a double- (or triple-) take to absorb it

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You don't have to get the second word right, actually. –  mmyers Jan 4 '10 at 22:06
    
Oh... interesting... is that a 'feature'? –  Mark Henderson Jan 4 '10 at 22:11
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@mmyers: is it always the second word that you don't have to get? I was under the impression that it was random, but I haven't looked into it much. –  Kip Jan 4 '10 at 22:56
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@Farseeker: yes, it's a feature: one of the words is an image that has been scanned from a book or newspaper and can't be reliably read by OCR. so everytime you fill out one of these, you do a small bit of work towards digitizing old literature. recaptcha.net/learnmore.html –  Kip Jan 4 '10 at 23:00
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I believe the order is random, though, to prevent people from screwing up the associations. i.e. sometimes the known word is #1, sometimes it's #2. –  ceejayoz Jan 4 '10 at 23:19

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

It looks like reCAPTCHA added some obfuscation to their images. If you can't read one of them, ask for another one (the little circular arrow button on the right).

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Man, how dumb do I feel. I forgot you could do that, because I've never had to do it before! –  Mark Henderson Jan 4 '10 at 22:09

alt text

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Yeah, but the whole point of captcha is it's meant to be simple and easy for a human to use, and difficult for an AI. And yes, I forgot I could click the refresh button, and I don't have speakers on my work comptuer. –  Mark Henderson Jan 4 '10 at 22:10
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i'd give you +1 for the freehand circles, but your freehand text is completely illegible. perhaps try it with a color that clashes with the background, instead of one that blends in... –  quack quixote Jan 4 '10 at 22:55
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@quack: I think that was done on purpose. I think John took one of the phpBB3 Captchas as an example, but decided to make his much more readable. –  Michael Stum Jan 5 '10 at 0:49
    
And for those who don't know what a phpBB3 Captcha is, here is one: img140.imageshack.us/img140/6476/indexwg7.png –  Michael Stum Jan 7 '10 at 20:40

I find recaptcha to be brilliant - I am not really a fan of the new circular obfuscation, however, even if you are only close to the word - it actually allows a pass.

for example, you could probably pass that one by typing snuting st... making a problem in the first and only partly guessing the second.

To be honest, I am not sure how it is as effective as it is with some of the things it has allowed from me when I know I have been incorrect.

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reCAPTCHA only knows one of the two words. It's basically an OCR Service for old books where OCR didn't work. So you get one known and one unknown word. The known word has to match, the unknown word is put on a pool and if enough people "agree" on it, it gets added to the known words. That's only an implementation details and bound to change of course. –  Michael Stum Jan 5 '10 at 0:51

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