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The spam bots are pretty good. Anyone with an app with a comment system can confirm. So, since they know to solve them, they do it pretty quick, as apposed to humans, who take on average 28.4 seconds ( http://www.stanford.edu/~jurafsky/burszstein_2010_captcha.pdf ).

So, can we say that bots are statistically better at captcha than users?

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What specifically is the UX angle to this question? –  JonW Dec 3 '12 at 10:01
Not just statistically better they are better. –  Igor-G Dec 3 '12 at 10:24
Definitely agree with @JonW, there is no UX angle in this question. This is a big "maybe", but "maybe" it would be accepted at Skeptics.SE. –  AndroidHustle Dec 3 '12 at 10:31
Captcha codes influence the user experience. I guess that the point here is that if bots are better at solving captcha codes there's no reason to use them as they are quite annoying. –  user21979 Dec 3 '12 at 10:59
Your question seems to be based on a false premise; you assume that bots can reliably solve captchas but only provide evidence showing that humans can be slower to solve them than expected (possibly; the study doesn't actually provide any numbers for expected solve times). Further you present numbers referring to audio captchas, which are vastly more difficult, slower to solve and much rarer (1% of all presented); times for image captchas were 9.8 seconds. Finally I still don't see a UX angle beyond the ages old anti-captcha rant –  Ben Brocka Dec 3 '12 at 12:36
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closed as off topic by ChrisF, AndroidHustle, JohnGB, Ben Brocka Dec 3 '12 at 12:39

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2 Answers

While not obvious, I do think there is a UX angle to this question;

If bots can read a Captcha better than a human user, why include them at all?

After all, it more often then not, is damaging to the user experience. 28.4 seconds is a long time for a user to be stuck at such a hurdle, and we've all been there - to say it's annoying would be an understatement.

So if a Captcha isn't able to do the job it set out to do (by that I mean preventing bots from submitting data), then it serves no purpose and thus should be removed.

Of course, I recognize that there is a need for Captcha's as not all bots are able to read them, and without a Captcha spam may just build up all too rapidly.

My preference would be to refrain from including a Captcha, and instead moderate submissions via filters etc. Perhaps with final approval coming from a webmaster.

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and the question that pops up: is it worth it to trouble the users with a captcha only to avoid the submissions from the 'dumb bots'? –  Adrian Dec 3 '12 at 11:26
If they get much harder to read, I, as a human, will just be giving up registering on sites which use them ! –  PhillipW Dec 3 '12 at 12:15
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At the company that I'm working I have suggested the same problem with Captcha. After days of trying to persuade the team not to use it we came up with an alternative.

Captcha isn't visible to the user. It only appears if the form submit button is pressed within 2 seconds of the page load. We didn't experience any problems yet.

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+1 This is great solution. –  Daniel Meade Dec 3 '12 at 17:42
I've had a lot of luck using honey pots and pretending the post goes through. After a few months it's caught 100% of my spam and no real posts. –  Ben Durnell Dec 3 '12 at 23:09
@BenDurnell we used to use this approach and our website experienced attacks. –  Igor-G Dec 4 '12 at 8:27
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