reCAPTCHA is cool.

October 13th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I wanted people to be able to leave comments to my articles without having to go through the hassle of signing up and waiting for an email confirmation.  So, I looked for a CAPTCHA plugin for WordPress - one of those "enter the words you see in this picture" programs.  I found reCAPTCHA, and let me tell you, reCAPTCHA has got to be one of the neatest ideas ever.  According to the reCAPTCHA website, "About 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved by humans around the world every day. In each case, roughly ten seconds of human time are being spent. Individually, that's not a lot of time, but in aggregate these little puzzles consume more than 150,000 hours of work each day."

Amazing!  Apparently, a brilliant group of people from the Carnegie Mellon University thought so too.  Their next thought was, "How can we harness those 150,000 hours of work?"  (Why can't I ever have thoughts like that?) They got together with some people digitizing old books and newspapers.  They had a problem.  OCR, technology that is used to convert an image of printed text into digital format, is not perfect and occasionally can't read a word.  reCAPTCHA was born.  The program takes a known word, pairs it with an unknown word, and gives it to a user to enter.  If the user solves the one for which the answer is already known, reCAPTCHA assumes the second is also solved correctly.  Presto!  Word by word, a book is eventually digitized.

Here's an example.  The word on the right was difficult to read.  I assume it's "their".  reCAPTCHA will show this word to a few other people as well, in case I'm wrong.

  1. October 13th, 2008 at 14:23 | #1

    I'm leaving a reply to my own post so I can test reCAPTCHA.

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