We’ve all been there: you’re about to take a poll, register a username, or buy a concert ticket when—pop!—you’re presented with two fuzzy, loopy text blobs, and told to type.
Of course, those roadblocks serve a purpose. CAPTCHAs, or “Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart” as they’re known in long-winded circles, arose in the early 2000s, in order to prevent robots from spamming online submissions. They’ve since evolved into all kinds of gimmickry: Solve Media, for example, replaces the text blobs with branded messages, while Facebook is testing a “social authentication” system that shows you pictures of your friends and asks you to name them.
But the industry standard is still Google’s reCaptcha, which shows words from books and magazines Google’s computers scanned but couldn’t recognize, and uses our captcha entries to help decipher them. And although some sites, like Ryanair and Ticketmaster, are starting to switch away from its oft-illegible text blobs (especially tough on non-native English speakers, according to a 2010 Stanford study), they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
So let’s commiserate! Below, we’ve rounded up the six types of bad CAPTCHAs we encounter every day. Feel free to add your own.
1. The “I’ve Almost Got It!” The picture below is just “alcvky,” right? Not bad at all—except you also have to enter those numbers (or maybe letters) on the right.
2. The “Is There a Smudge on My Screen?” Maybe the trick is to not try too hard to figure out whether those are two Ts or one massive hashtag. And watch out for that blur on the right.
3. The “No, Really, How Do I Type That?” Let’s throw some numbers into the mix, just to make sure you’re really not a spam bot.
4. The “I Have to Know FRACTIONS?!” Curve ball: they’re sideways.
5. The “At Least I Can Read One Word.” Too bad it’s the.
6. The “WsjnaksfdjnglkfgL.” Because that may as well be what that last word says.