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One reason that I do not like using SE is third-party elements that track me and invade my privacy: specifically, Google captcha, which I am forced to use even when logged in. I use various blockers in Firefox and can prevent most other third party-trackers, but not Google captcha obviously. It was a brilliant invention by Google to track people across the internet who did not want to be tracked.

My question is simple. Are there others who are concerned about this mandatory third-party tracking, who would prefer an in-house / on-site captcha?

People are increasingly and rightly concerned about being tracked by third parties. California just introduced legislation to start to protect residents' privacy better.

I understand that bots are a problem. However I run a popular website that has been online 10 years, and am able to hold them off with a simple, static question/answer captcha that does not involve Google and therefore most importantly protects my users' privacy.

Surely SE, with all its smart software developers, could create a captcha that would be appropriate to its scale - and perhaps perform some useful task for SE that cannot be easily automated.

Working in a matter that is respectful of your contributors and users' privacy matters and is important to future business success, I believe.

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  • 4
    Whitelist SE cookie and you won't have to log in again and go trhough the capcha?
    – Tensibai
    Oct 12, 2019 at 20:36
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    Does the captcha contain tracking info? Citation needed. Oct 12, 2019 at 21:37
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    I never seen a captcha on the network, ever...
    – Luuklag
    Oct 12, 2019 at 21:46
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    Interesting. I had to answer traffic signals and cars today, and I was already logged in. Maybe because uBlock blocks so many third party scripts I am considered more bot-like? Before posting I did see a former question in meta that was about users getting too many captchas in the past.
    – brett
    Oct 12, 2019 at 22:25
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    I rarely see the captcha, but did actually see it today. Perhaps some cookie universally reset. Either way, I don't think the captcha tracks you. At least, Privacy Badger lets it through, and they block specifically tracking scripts, known and by behavior.
    – user212646
    Oct 12, 2019 at 22:26
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    I have uBlock in its mostly-default state and the only times I see a captcha is on data.se. I may have also seen a captcha when I wrote an answer and let it sit for a while without edits before submitting it. Oct 13, 2019 at 9:33
  • I would love to never see traffic light and bike captchas again as I cannot be the only person who simply can't see well enough to answer them. Many sites have captchas that are more eyesight friendly, I have never understood why anyone would expose their users to this traffic light nonsense.
    – MandyShaw
    Mar 21, 2021 at 9:54

1 Answer 1

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My question is simple. Are there others who are concerned about this mandatory third-party tracking, who would prefer an in-house / on-site captcha?

Yes.

I understand that bots are a problem. However I run a popular website that has been online 10 years, and am able to hold them off with a simple, static question/answer captcha that does not involve Google and therefore most importantly protects my users' privacy.

There are many modern spambots which are capable of solving static answers. Some even run OCR on images and can perform web searches to try to find the answer to the captcha if it is not as simple as a math question or the title of the webpage. It is certainly necessary to use a more sophisticated technique to identify automated posts. But this doesn't mean SE can't move away from reCaptcha.

Surely SE, with all its smart software developers, could create a captcha that would be appropriate to its scale - and perhaps perform some useful task for SE that cannot be easily automated.

They don't even need to create it themselves (which is not a trivial undertaking). There are captcha services with similar efficacy to reCaptcha which do preserve privacy. There is hCaptcha, which has also been taken up by Cloudflare to replace Google's captcha specifically for privacy reasons. There is no technical reason why SE would not be able to seamlessly switch to a different captcha provider.

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