The reCAPTCHA Rorschach Test

Even if you’re not familiar with the contrived acronym CAPTCHA, you’ve probably encountered the concept from time to time online. It’s a reasonably reliable way for websites that allow user comments to distinguish a human from a spambot, and thus it’s one form of Turing test. So far so good. In fact I use one such CAPTCHA service, reCAPTCHA, for comments on this site.

I like reCAPTCHA because, aside from the fact that it works (most of the time, though you may guess that one of its failings has prompted this posting, and you may be correct), it is part of a Carnegie Mellon University project to digitize books. (You see, humans completing the CAPTCHAs help to decipher words that the OCR software chokes on.)

Tonight I was going over various pages of my site, attempting to apply yet another layer of polish to everything, and I discovered the most bizarre abomination of a CAPTCHA I have ever seen. I grabbed a screenshot, and here it is. Good luck with that.

reCAPTCHA Rorschach