7 Innovative Solutions to CAPTCHA User Attention

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Security is one of the most important factors that a webmaster or developer has to take into consideration when designing a website – especially one that handles sensitive user data and/or requires users to register before they can begin to interact with the site.

Among the many solutions that Web workers have devised to improve security measures, as well as the user experience on their sites, is the CAPTCHA (or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – I think it’s a good idea they decided to use the acronym), a solution that presents a challenge response test to users that ensures the “person” trying to access the site is actually a human, and not just an annoying spam bot.

Unfortunately, while these solutions can be useful in theory, they are often more problematic when they’re actually implemented. Not only can they be cumbersome, difficult to read and a generally unwanted hassle for users, but they’re not even foolproof, as bots can use optical character recognition (OCR) software to crack the CAPTCHA code.

As a result, developers have had to get creative with their CAPTCHAs, resulting in an improved experience for many users. Here are six of the more interesting, innovative and just plain useful CAPTCHA solutions available today:


Although reCAPTCHA looks a lot like traditional CAPTCHA solutions (because it is), it’s also a service that helps digitize books, newspapers and even old radio shows. Basically, as reCAPTCHA goes about the process of putting this old content into a sleep new digital format, it will go through and find those words that are pretty much impossible for OCR programs to read, and then uses those for it’s CAPTCHAs, making it far more secure than other solutions.



This is a Microsoft Research project adds a dash of cute to a website by asking users to identify photos of dogs for cats (e.g. they’ll be asked to identify all of the cat pictures in a set that mixes both cat and dog photos). It’s powered by a unique partnership with Petfinder.com, and according to their user studies, not only can people accomplish this task quickly and accurately, but a lot of them also think it is fun.


Confident Technologies

Another similar CAPTCHA solution is available from Confident Technologies, which provides clickable picture CAPTCHAs that stop spam and bots by asking visitors to click on specific pictures. This tool comes in various international languages (including French, Spanish, German and more), is already mobile-optimized and allows websites to brand their CAPTCHA using their own unique logos and marketing messages.


Ironclad CAPTCHA

Ironclad CAPTCHA is a solution from the Security Stronghold company that presents a set of 3D objects for users to count and identify. According to its website, the solution is “easy for even a kid, impossible for [a] robot.” A box will appear with a variety of 3D objects and ask users to count how many individual objects they see. And the best part is, it’s totally free!



If CAPTCHAs are driving away users, why not give them a game to play instead? At least, that’s the idea the folks at Are You a Human had when they created PlayThru, a cloud-based service that provides little interactive minigames with simple tasks (e.g. drag the food items into the refrigerator) that users must complete before they can move to another part of a website.



NuCAPTCHA takes a new approach to CAPTCHA security by using videos that feature easy-to-read streaming letters, as opposed to a traditional static box. It’s also much less of a hassle for developers to integrate into their sites and can be customized in a skinless form that lets designers match it to the them of their websites.


Solve Media

Advertising is everywhere these days, and now it’s even in our CAPTCHAs thanks to Solve Media, which has created a CATPCHA and display ad hybrid that asks users to answer a simple question about an ad that it shows them from another company. Advertisers pay for these appearances, and publishers will share half of their ad revenue with Solve. In other words, this is a solution that allows you to monetize your CAPTCHAs and keep spam bots away at the same time.

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David S Freid aka SEO Seattle® 02-07-2013 3:25 PM

A fair comparison will only come from more time given to calcualte numbers from a reasonable timeline.

CarolW 02-07-2013 3:53 PM

None of them seem any better at accessibility, some are even worse.

JanisC 02-07-2013 4:29 PM

Thanks for the article. I have a blind friend who uses the internet and is stymied by CAPTCHA. I hope future solutions keep handicapped users in mind.

MarkT 02-07-2013 8:02 PM

Some great ideas - going to try them out to see if any are viable.  Thanks for the post.

MarkT 02-07-2013 9:49 PM

added SOLVE MEDIA to my website - Love it! Easy install, great App!

Pete Prestipino 02-08-2013 8:01 AM

Not sure I agree Carol: I found solutions from both Confident and PlayThru to be far better at accessibility - playing a game or finding a matching image is far more engaging for users than typing in hard to read letters. I expect over time there will be far more of these mission-based and "game-ified" solutions.  

Email Marketing Blasts 02-08-2013 8:13 AM

My favorites are the PLAYTHRU catpcha. That one, in my opinion, will be very secure. How can a bot logically choose what is required, AND drag it somewhere? Not probable at this time. That one will be I will use when they "skin" it with more professional looking puzzles. If you are a fortune 500 company and you have cartoony rubbish on your site, it doesn't look so great.

We are an automotive dealership marketing agency. www.drivedigitalgroup.com, and we wouldn't dare have something like that on our site at this time.

Great article. Very impressive technologies, just won't work for all cases and I wouldn't expect them to.



TalR 02-11-2013 6:29 AM

There are some great ideas. I'd also like to add minteye.com - I've been using it for sometime and it's great on mobile as well.

ChrisM 02-20-2013 3:52 AM

Hi guys and gals,

I’d like to tell you about a new CAPTCHA alternative to check out. We all know we need CAPTCHAs to stop spammers from abusing our sites. We also know that users hate typing out twisty letters or ad phrases. Automated spam filters make mistakes and require constant checking. FunCaptcha presents a mini-game that blocks the bots while giving your users a few moments of fun. It’s a real security solution hardened by experts and automatically updated to provide the best protection. Try a demo on our site! http://swipeads.co

Users complete our FunCaptcha faster than other CAPTCHAs, with fewer frustrating failures and no typing. They work on all browsers and mobile devices, using HTML5 with a fallback to Flash. Visually impaired users can complete an audio challenge. We have several ways to deploy (http://swipeads.co/setup/), including PHP and a WordPress plugin (wordpress.org/.../funcaptcha)

If you get in on the ground floor now, you can be first in line to start earning money with upcoming FunCaptchas that integrate advertising. They will require no typing or extra time, and remain as secure as ever.

Learn more, give feedback, and ask questions at our website. Our epic battle against bots doesn’t have to be a headache. Let’s fight while having some fun!


Chris Macaulay


Good Dog 04-04-2013 10:37 AM

Hey Chris, Thanks for the post, giving Fun Captcha a try on my website.

DerekT 02-25-2014 3:27 AM

One more useful captcha alternative - http://uniqpin.com

Similar Confident, but more easy and comfortable...

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