A gallery of indecipherable Captchas

Arne tried to comment on the Breaking Bad post and was presented with a bunch of ridiculously indecipherable Captchas. Here are just a few of the ones he was challenged with:




Sorry, Arne!

By the way: Arne's comment: "Here's a song they used in that same episode."


    1. Assuming you’re actually not sure about the ‘read books’ part, recaptcha is a system that uses words scanned from old books as the stimulus. In doing so, it uses the average of everyone who answers the same stimulus as the assumed correct meaning of word.

      In this way it helps read OCRed books which otherwise would require humans to clean up. (I guess it does get humans to clean them up, but in a distributed fashion.)

      I don’t think I’ve explained it very well, so here’s the link to their explanation of it:

      1. Thank you, Fex.  You did explain it very well, and in fact I did know what the recaptcha project was for.  I’m not a particularly big fan of the overall goal, but what the hell; it’ll outlive me.

        Just struck me as a funny motto: stop spam.  read books.

        If I were actually reading a book right now I wouldn’t have to stop to puzzle out a damned captcha.  “Help us digitize the library of humanity” might be a more honest plea, and even with that added honesty, I wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to help.

    1. *pat pat*

      It’s OK.  Questioning whether you are human or not is part of being human.  Or not.

      And if your brain hasn’t exploded from that, you probably are human.  Or not.

      Does any of this help?

  1. The secret is that you usually only need to get one of those right in order to pass the Captcha. One of them is an unknown that they are trying to get a consensus on while the other is a known set of characters.

    1. The one you have to fill out is always the one with the squiggly line through it. For anyone who doesn’t know.

  2. This is a particular problem with reCAPTCHA:  It has taken the approach of “make it very very difficult for computers by just making it insanely difficult period”, without just instead “accept computer solvers: captchas are just about costing the attacker $.0025 to solve: wether it be the cost of humans or the amoritzed cost of a computer solver, pretty easy but customized CAPTCHAs work pretty darn good.

    ReCAPTCHA, no so well…

  3. I know how captchas are supposed to work (or not work) and all that, but why in the hell is there a lambda in the top one?

  4. What makes this particularly odd is that we don’t have Captcha anymore since we switched to Disqus.  But those certainly look like traditional Boing Boing Captchas.

  5. The second one is “IPA/DIPA”  I would have totally looked up the Alt codes for the first one and filled it in tought.

  6. As the above poster said, the one with the squiggly line is the only one you actually have to fill out. reCaptcha recently changed to this format with the line through the text which has made them a lot tougher to figure out. The other text is the scanned text that they’re trying to find a meaning for. I’ve seen all sorts of random stuff in there: Chinese characters, mathematical formulas, inverted text(white on black), flipped text(as above), Cyrillic text and more.

  7. Annoyed with Captcha, I decided to try the audio version, thinking “there’s no way it can be as difficult as the written version.” 

    Boy was I wrong!  It is not only insanely difficult, it’s also probably the most terrifying (terrifying as in nightmare-inducing) audio clip I’ve ever heard in my life! 

  8. Also, you don’t have to get funky Captchas correct to pass them.  If you enter a letter that looks more or less like the squiggle or Cyrillic character, it’ll let you through.  I’ve never had one fail, even when they’re almost unreadable.

    1. no, the trick is you can enter a letter that looks like ANY letter, because recaptcha doesn’t care, the cyrillic part is just for “shits ‘n giggles”, as you americans would say.

  9. Let’s try this again.

    [update] Yay! Also, no captchas at al this time…
    [update2] Whoa! Even editing works. Ok, back to harvesting tomatoes.

    1. Shhhhh! You know those are the words that open up the Eternal Bottomless Pit in which lurk They Who Shall Not Be Named.

  10. Well that first one isn’t too bad.  I regularly sign off my sms messages to my girlfriend with lambda-oxo.

  11. I particularly like how reCaptcha occasionally uses letter sets not installed on the computer. I don’t know if the user had Greek mappings available, but I know I didn’t have Arabic mappings for the one I got. 

  12. Those aren’t even close to some I’ve been getting recently. A few times I’ve gotten “words” that appear to be arabic script, and there’s quite literally no way to decipher them.

    1. What is this, the 1990’s? Just open up your unicode character picker, copy out some characters that look like the ones in the captcha and paste them in.  Nobody’s expecting you to understand them.
      It helps if you know they are probably greek or chinese or arabic so you know where to look, and it helps more if you have the kind of multi-cultural literacy that you can make a definite identification of the characters when comparing them with a unicode font on your computer, but even if not, it should be embarrassing to admit defeat-by-ignorance so readily.

  13. My pet theory for a while has been that ReCaptcha has solved all of the easy words and now we humans are trying to solve the words that made the computer go WTF.  You know, backwards words, stuff that’s written perpendicular to the page, and scientific symbols.

  14. I don’t see any issue with any of these, they’re all perfectly readable.  You all must be bots.

    1. If you ever get the same Captcha again, the part on the right says 道教と佛敎 (dōkyō to bukkyō), or Taoism and Buddhism

  15. I’m dyslexic. No joke, the stupid make sure I’m not a computer methods have locked me out of more than one website. It is pretty embarrassing to have to go get someone to read one for you.

  16. The only time I ever had trouble with one of these was when I tried deleting my Facebook account, I couldn’t get the code correct so I just left it alone. It worked, I still have my Facebook account. 

  17. you need a rosetta stone to decipher some of those damn characters….  and if your screen is small, fugettaboutit….

  18. Captcha Drives me crazy. I have screenshots of capthas worse than these. Drives me up the wall banannas. I’ve even bugged the admin of this sight and was sent to captha tech support and everyone kinda just shrugged. Some of the words I get are from the Crab Nebula light years away. I’m tired of it. Make it numbers or something. It’s like taking shoes off at the airport. I rather take the risk, the check is too annoying.

  19. RECaptchas are made from two parts: a scanned word and a computer generated one.

    Scanned words:
    * Are often proper English words
    * Are seldom crossed out
    * Are occasionally not a sequence of simple letters (numbers, arabic, greek…)
    * Come in a variety of fonts

    Computer generated words:
    * Are seldom proper English words
    * Are nearly always crossed out
    * Always are made of simple letters
    * Are always in the same font.

    So long as you get the computer generated word right (and in the right place, first or last*) it doesn’t matter what you put for the scanned word: RECaptcha don’t know; so even if you type ‘penis’ it’ll work.

    *: untested, might not matter.

  20. Ha! About five minutes after reading this I was registering on a website and it presented me with a stream of similarly indecipherable Captchas like the two attached. I suppose the first is actually not terribly hard to read, but I’m guessing most users wouldn’t know the key combination to type a pi symbol.

  21. I just type the more readable word as it is and substitute a random invective for the other. It always works.

  22. I’ve had trouble with some captchas as well. Is there a web site that will translate them for you? They are sometimes so messed up that only a computer could unscramble them.

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