Sometimes when I comment on a blog, the host is using CAPTCHA and I have to do that extra step. It's not a problem. I totally understand that it's a bot protection device and I'm all for that.
I finally got curious about CAPTCHA and did a little research. Did you know that CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart? Kudos to Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University, who did some great work and coined that catchy name in 2000. Who knew?
(By the way, the CAPTCHA site is super readable -- especially for a computer site! -- and has a lot of interesting background information on what it does and why it's needed.)
Most of the time CAPTCHA is just a little wordy game that I kind of enjoy. I especially like the one with the photos that asks me to "Click every square with a traffic sign" -- although it would be more fun if it wanted me to, say, click every square with a flower.
But there's one that asks me to "Please prove you're not a robot." Often this takes me into the realm of wild thoughts:
What if I'm a robot and I don't know it?
Books have been written on just this subject. It might make a good reading challenge.
Once robots can read a word with a squiggly line through it, how will I prove myself?
And doesn't the question itself seem a little aggressive?