Question from Seth: Lots of the forms I see on websites have a button that I have to click on to prove that I’m a human and not a robot.
My question is how does this prove I’m is not a robot?
Wouldn’t it be easy for a hacker to program a bot to pretend to be a human by recognizing the button from the page code and “clicking” on it?
It seems to me that the “I’m not a robot” challenges that require you to identify all the boxes that contain a certain item would be a lot more effective.
What am I missing here?
Rick’s answer: That’s a great question, Seth. And truth be told, the “identify the object in the boxes” challenges really are more effective at weeding out the bots than the single-button method.
In fact, their effectiveness is pretty close to 100% while the single-button challenges aren’t.
But that being said, there’s a reason why many websites choose to use the single-button challenge instead of the multiple photo challenge: While the single-button reCAPTCHA “challenges” can’t prevent 100% of all bots from passing as humans, their success rate is high enough for them to be considered effective.
The software behind the single-box reCAPTCHA challenges are designed to provide the best balance between user friendliness and effectiveness as possible.
Although they’re far from perfect, the programmers behind them have refined them to the point where they actually do a pretty good job at weeding out the majority of the bots that are constantly crawling the web looking for a form to exploit.
Yes, the challenges that require you to click on all the boxes that contain objects like cars and traffic lights are indeed more effective than the ones that simply require you to click on a button.
The problem is they also make for an absolutely horrible user experience.
Have you ever struggled to identify all the boxes that contain at least a fragment of the item you’re looking for? Yeah, me too.
It can sometimes take several attempts to get them all clicked, and I’ve encountered more than one that I simply couldn’t “solve” regardless of how many times I tried.
In a nutshell, that’s why so many websites use the single-button reCAPTCHA challenge instead of the more effective, but greatly more frustrating “multiple boxes with images” challenges.
I hope this helps, Seth. Thanks again for asking such a great question!
Update from Seth: That does make sense, Rick. Thanks fort answering.
Bonus tip: This post discusses 7 ways to get a second opinion when an antivirus scan says your PC is malware-free.