Simplifying a CAPTCHA

I just spent some time doing some research to get to speed with eventually implementing CAPTCHAs within certain functions in TextStyleM.

Okay, some of you are probably wondering, “What the heck is a CAPTCHA?” Well, it’s an acronym for completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart. And before you start thinking I’m a freakin’ genius, know that I got that definition from Wikipedia. You’ve probably encountered many CAPTCHAs while browsing the Web without knowing that’s what they were called. They’re simply those automatically generated images representing a “word” that the online reader must type and match in order for the form he or she just filled out is submitted correctly. So, the theory goes, because ‘bots can’t read images, only a human being will be able to do a successful match, thereby increasing the chances that the submission is legitimate and eliminating spam submissions — a problem particularly for blog comments.

Except that my poor little brain started getting really bad cramps as I tried to figure out PHP classes that would make CAPTCHAs possible. I ended up digging quite deep into my Google search results in the hope that somebody might have a suggestion that would be more comprehensible (to me). And that’s when I came across what seems to me like a simpler and completely different approach.

The idea is this. Those blasted ‘bots can’t read and comprehend, can they? So, let’s say that in order for a form to be submitted properly, one of four radio buttons must be checked, and the button to be checked would be randomly selected on the fly by PHP. Yes, there’s a chance a ‘bot might check the right one, but not every time. Plus, the instruction would be fairly uncommon on forms (i.e., not something most ‘bots would be “expecting”).

Maybe this is just an easy way out, but I think it’s a clever one. And maybe it’s not the most secure but, once again, this is probably another case of “good enough for the boys I go out with.” 🙂

{1} Thought on “Simplifying a CAPTCHA

  1. What you’ve described will in fact work for the ‘bot that just randomly drops in and tries the form once…. but that’s not what they do. A well designed bot will simply plough your form with combination after combination – after all if it doesn’t work it doesn’t care – it just keeps going on its merry way.

    I’m sure I have bookmarked a handy little class I found a while ago, I’ll see if I can dig it up and send it your way 🙂

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