The web service "Are You a Human" provides a very different way to challenge form submitters than the traditional hard to read random words and characters we've all come to know and hate. By replacing the standard CAPTCHA images with small interactive games called PlayThrus, Are You a Human makes an effort to stop spambots more effectively while making it easier, and more fun, to interact with this security challenge.
CAPTCHA has been around in its current form probably since the beginning of this century. Even if you've never heard the term, you've undoubtedly struggled to decipher CAPTCHA images on websites. There have been other problems with this technology as well, such as accessibility issues for those with sight impairment and other disabilities. There have been several attempts to improve CAPTCHA, including reCAPTCHA and then of course this more recent approach of using PlayThru games as a test to prove your humanity.
What got us thinking about trying this out is the fact that we ran across the extension "PlayThru Captcha" on the JED. We're always looking for great alternatives to CAPTCHA, so we tried it out. Here's how it went.
The installation is very simple. Grab the extension from the JED, then install as normal. Once the extension is installed, you will be directed to register with Are You a Human. You'll then be given two keys that you must paste into the Plugin. Once you've done that and enabled the Plugin, you can go to Global Configuration and set Captcha - PlayThru as your Default Captcha setting. This should enable the service on your core contact forms.
Here are some screen shots of the process:
After successful install, you'll need to register at areyouahuman.com
Once you've registered, you'll be given site keys to put into the Plugin
Enter your site keys and enable the Plugin
After setting Default Captcha to Captcha - PlayThru in Global Configuration you will see the service show up in your forms
And here's what one of the PlayThrus looks like
On registering for the Are You a Human website, I had to play a game that asked me to "Make Pancakes". I love pancakes, and I have made pancakes many times; however, I have to admit it took me several seconds to figure out exactly what the game was asking me to do. I also have to wonder if that brief detour in thought would be enough to send some visitors away. What made things worse is that when I finished the game, I was told that I had not completed the PlayThru successfully and was given an error. What??!! Me, not making pancakes properly? I doubt that. I did successfully "Put the aliens on the planet" on my second PlayThru attempt though.
Some of the games actually do take a little thought. This is probably enough to stop the vast majority of even the smartest spambots out there, but it also seems enough to put some of your potential form submitters off as well.
In the end, whether or not this system works for you depends very much on the tone of your website and the patience of your visitors. Some will engage with this shiny new thing, and some will be annoyed and run away.
You can have a quick look at a demo of a PlayThru here.
Now that we've installed it and played with it a bit, we'd love to know what you think. Can you see this CAPTCHA alternative as being useful? If so, what is the tone of your website and your audience demographic? Leave us a comment and let us know.