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One of the biggest annoyances on the Internet are those anti-spam, anti-bot CAPTCHAs -- the little scrambled text puzzles you have to fill out on forms to verify that you are a human. Maybe you're registering to leave a comment on a blog, or trying to buy a ticket to a sporting event, or even logging in to your email.
Instead, you see this: "Type the text"... But we can't read the text because it is horribly disfigured to make life harder for robots. Unfortunately, bots have long since reached the point where they can crack the codes while humans squint, mistype, mutter curse words, and leave your site without contacting you.
Google introduced a better solution this week: the "No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA," which we'll refer to as "checkboxes and kittens."
I'm Not a Robot Checkbox
That's it. A checkbox. "I'm not a robot." Though Google doesn't go into detail on the magic behind the box, the blog post announcing the change said that a "risk analysis engine" measures how a user interacts with a page, and with the CAPTCHA, to tell if anything more than a simple checkbox is necessary. If you're detected as a human, you check a box and hit submit.
What happens if you aren't immediately detected as a human? In that case, you will face a CAPTCHA. But, Google is also experimenting with mobile-friendly (and far less annoying) alternatives, like a picture-matching test that will tell you to pick out all the kittens from a mixture of cat and dog pictures.
Beats squinting to read numbers, doesn't it? Doubly so if you've ever tried to beat a CAPTCHA on the tiny keyboard of a mobile device.
The new "No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA" has already been tested in the wild on WordPress, Snapchat, and Humble Bundle, resulting in users getting to where they want to go far more quickly. For your site, this could mean better and quicker spam protection that leads to fewer potential clients abandoning your contact forms or blog comments sections.