Posted September 17, 2009 12:55 pm by with 5 comments

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what the crap captchaThere’s nothing we love more than warped words (or random numbers and letters) we have to type in before we’re allowed to comment. These CAPTCHAs cut down on spam (and, sometimes, legitimate comments. grrr.)—and every once in a while, someone comes along with a great idea to make that kind of technology useful, like reCAPTCHA using words scanned from old texts that OCR software can’t recognize.

A great idea, right? It’s so popular more than 100,000 websites have signed up to use the specialized CAPTCHAs, including Facebook and craigslist. I’m sure you can guess how this story ends: Google buys reCAPTCHA.

craptchaThis is doubly beneficial for Google:

  1. They get cooler CAPTCHAs than the random strings of letters they’ve been using on Blogger and other services.
  2. They get free help decipher unintelligible words in their Google Books, Google News Archive and other scanning projects

Of course, there’s one little problem on this cool feature—if the computer couldn’t recognize the word in the first place, how will it know if you typed the right one? That’s what the second word is for—one of the words is one the computer already knows.

reCAPTCHA was a free, open source project, so with the way it’s structured now, it won’t be adding to Google’s bottom line.

What do you think? How else can this be beneficial to Google? Are they likely to start charging large clients for reCAPTCHAs?

  • reCAPTCHA is certainly easier to read (for humans) than Google’s current CAPTCHA so if they completely switch, I’ll be very happy.
    .-= Yael K. Miller´s last blog ..Emails and blog comments demonstrate the benefits of Twitter =-.

  • Jess

    You guys / gals rock! Love this blog. Great information written with some tongue in cheek commentary. One of my favorites!!

  • Is there anything that Google doesn’t/hasn’t/won’t eventually own? I’d hope they don’t start charging customers because… it seems wrong. It was opensource originally so it should stay that way IMO. And the idea of reCAPTCHAs is simply brilliant, it takes a necessary process (to defeat spam bots) and turns it into something really quite useful, so it would be a shame to see Google start charging for it, even if it was just their large clients.
    .-= Luci´s last blog ..Use Titles To Drive Traffic To Your Blog And Increase Your SEO =-.

  • Kain

    Does anybody know if there are any privacy issues in using recaptha?

    Everything Google does in designed to increase the amount of information they have on internet users.

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