How about this? ReCAPTCHA is very annoying. Even though it scans books.

  • 2
    What makes your choice a better one?
    – Oded
    Jan 6, 2013 at 14:54
  • 1
    Actually - Yes, why not!
    – juergen d
    Jan 6, 2013 at 14:54
  • 2
    Tried a couple of those captchas, and I can see these becoming really annoying very quickly.
    – Oded
    Jan 6, 2013 at 14:56
  • 2
    No. I really prefer typing letters than playing those silly games suggested by this alternative "CAPTCHA". Jan 6, 2013 at 14:58
  • 3
    i tried and for that i have to use mouse which is really annoying and takes extra time ..rather than typing Jan 6, 2013 at 15:09
  • 5
    after playing with that for 4-5 time ..i really want to say wtf .. Jan 6, 2013 at 15:13
  • Surprisingly it works on my iPad - no mouse, just an index finger.
    – Bo Persson
    Jan 6, 2013 at 15:14
  • 3
    Apparently I'm not a human. I didn't know ice had to be used in a hot chocolate?
    – Matt
    Jan 6, 2013 at 15:19
  • 8
    I'm glad I don't get the captcha all that often any more. But this alternative annoyingly looks more like one of those "Solve this and win an iPad" type advertising scams.
    – Bart
    Jan 6, 2013 at 15:24
  • 4
    Yes please, there's nothing stupider than Recaptcha asking you to input symbols that don't exist on your keyboard. Jan 6, 2013 at 17:34
  • 2
    @Matt: that didn't look like ice, it's not transparent like as in making lemonade. Americans use marshmallows in hot chocolate, I think they actually represent marshmallows.
    – user138231
    Jan 6, 2013 at 17:45
  • 1
    This is not a duplicate. Jan 6, 2013 at 17:55
  • @Adam it asks to replace the existing CAPTCHA with something better, and so is the duplicate. To suggest specific replacement comment or answer in the other question is enough. Jan 6, 2013 at 20:18
  • 6
    @ShaWizDowArd I think having a place to discuss a specific suggestion is more valuable than closing as a dupe of a more general proposal.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 6, 2013 at 20:59
  • 3
    So, instead of people debating the pros/cons of something like this (which we do down to the pedantic level), why can't we just do some A/B testing and use real science applied to the data collected by the end?
    – casperOne
    Jan 7, 2013 at 1:24

3 Answers 3


Although none are perfect, at least reCAPTCHA has some accessibility provision. (It's text-only so doesn't require dexterity to use, plus there is an audio option too). You need to provide the most number of users with the ability to use the site, inaccessible CAPTCHAs reduce the number of users.

Also, at least reCAPTCHA gives something back to the web - for those that don't know each time a reCAPTCHA is entered it helps to digitise versions of books that otherwise would remain print-only. (Source: http://www.google.com/recaptcha)

  • 1
    Just for fun, have you ever tried the audio option? :)
    – Bart
    Jan 6, 2013 at 15:29
  • PlayThru uses exactly the same sound version. @Bart: Well, I have. I think a sight impaired person would have better chances randomly guessing the right text than of actually understanding the digits.
    – Dennis
    Jan 6, 2013 at 15:41
  • Exactly. The suggested version in the question forces people with disabilities to use the fallback audio, while recaptcha is at least usable for keyboard-only users.
    – JonW
    Jan 6, 2013 at 15:46
  • Text requires dexterity, especially on touch devices. Jan 6, 2013 at 17:31
  • Yes, you're right, although tablets such as iPads have amazingly good accessibility features. People who can no longer use desktop machines can use an iPad - heck even blind people use iPads. Apple do some amazing things around accessibility.
    – JonW
    Jan 6, 2013 at 17:41
  • @LanceRoberts Just because you have chosen to use an inferior video-game–like interface does not mean that others should be penalized for using a determistic input method. You chose your own poison. Text entry via a proper keyboard instead of vague handwaving is vastly superior for speed, accuracy, and reproducibility — all of which are desirable in any sort of captcha scheme.
    – tchrist
    Jan 6, 2013 at 21:35
  • You can't be accurate if you don't have a keyboard that actually has the symbols you are trying to reproduce. REcaptcha would do everyone a favor if they would just clean things up so it's actually possible to input their captures. Jan 6, 2013 at 21:56

I don't know how to make pancakes:

enter image description here

I don't want to catch little beautiful butterflies either:

enter image description here

Google reCAPTCHA is far better than this since it has a typing facility which is faster than by mouse. I don't use the mouse to submit a post; I just press enter and if the CAPTCHA appears, I just want to type instead moving my hand and using the mouse and thinking how to make pancakes.

  • Very much agreed: anything that makes you use the stupid mouse in some sort of nondeterministic video-game way is just about infinitely worse — to the point of being downright evil — compared to a nice deterministic keyboard text input mechanism. If I wanted to play a video game, I’d get a joystick.
    – tchrist
    Jan 6, 2013 at 21:33
  • "Very much agreed: anything that makes you use the stupid mouse" Pointing sticks for the world!
    – superuser
    Jan 7, 2013 at 5:13
  • 1
    Not to mention that is looks very professional: "Ahm, no, really, that is Stack Overflow, a site for programmers." - "What's with those minigames?" - "Those are CAPTCHAS!" - "Yeah, right, my little son plays those on Facebook all the time." - "Arrrr....." Jan 7, 2013 at 8:41
  • Note: In the case of "you don't know", that's why you have the refresh button, and different options. In the "I don't like", that's completely your problem. It doesn't mean you aren't capable of performing the task. There are many cases in reCAPTCHA where we are incapable of performing the actual task.
    – casperOne
    Jan 7, 2013 at 12:16
  • 1
    @SulfurizedDemonbobby Let's be honest, if you're doing something on the site often enough that the CAPTCHA comes up, and it comes up often enough that someone looking over your shoulder occasionally sees it, then you're doing something wrong. Professional appeal doesn't really apply here either, considering that the image on Stack Overflow that accompanies the reCAPTCHA is two guys in cardboard boxes with dryer duct tubing and dusted with silver spray paint.
    – casperOne
    Jan 7, 2013 at 12:18

I think both CAPTCHAs have their problems:

  • reCAPTCHA can be down-right impossible to read sometimes.

  • reCAPTCHA may require you to type characters that aren't even on your keyboard.

  • reCAPTCHA can't be used in countries that block Google.

  • PlayThru requires JavaScript.

  • PlayThru might be cumbersome for somebody that isn't skilled with the mouse or has to use some poor mouse replacement.

  • PlayThru assumes you're familiar with things you may have never seen in your life.

  • The free version of PlayThru requires you to understand English. All versions require you to be able to read.1

Personally, I think PlayThru should be easier to solve than reCAPTCHA nine times out of ten, but most of reCAPTCHA's problems can be solved by refreshing repeatedly.

So why use only one? Let's display both CAPTCHAs, but require the user to solve only one. This way, everybody's happy.

1 For Stack Overflow, that may not be a bad thing.

  • 2
    I think showing several at once is just going to be confusing and offputting. It assumes that people who are presented with it are going to read all the surrounding text to find out if they have to answer both CAPTCHAs. I think in reality more people would just see that there are two CAPTCHAs and then just bail out instead of reading / attempting any of them.
    – JonW
    Jan 6, 2013 at 16:20
  • 2
    Solving the PlayThru makes you advance automatically, and placing a submit button directly under the reCAPTCHA should be clear enough. But there's no need to display both at the same time. A reCAPCTHA's unreadble? Click to use PlayThru instead. link would serve the same purpose, and the user's choice could be remembered.
    – Dennis
    Jan 6, 2013 at 16:55
  • 1
    You can just get a new captcha from reCAPTCHA if it's unreadable. Why wire up a whole different thing just for an alternative?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 6, 2013 at 17:32
  • @AnnaLear: Yes, I have said that in my post. Right now, refreshing once or twice is enough for me. But there have been periods when I had to refresh five times or more to get a readable CAPTCHA, and I have very good eyesight...
    – Dennis
    Jan 6, 2013 at 17:44

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