CAPTCHAs don’t prove you’re human – they prove you’re American

by @edent | # # | 18 comments | Read ~4,469 times.

When I was a small child, I took an IQ test. One of the first questions I stumbled on was “A piece of candy costs 25¢. Jonny has a dime. How many nickels does he need to buy the candy?”

My 7-year old brain popped. WTAF is a nickel? Or a dime for that matter? We don’t have those coins in my country! We don’t spend in ¢ either. There was no way to get around the cultural knowledge required by the test. There were several questions like that – all assuming the test maker and taker were from a cultural homogeneity.

A few days ago, I had to complete a CAPTCHA. One of those irritating little web tests which is supposed to prove that you are a human. Here’s what I got:

A grid of images, some of them have photos of American taxis, some have photos of trees.

Guess what, Google? Taxis in my country are generally black. I’ve watched enough movies to know that all of the ones in America are yellow. But in every other country I’ve visited, taxis have been a mish-mash of different hues.

This annoys me. Will Google’s self driving cars simply not recognise London’s Black Cabs? Will any yellow car in the UK be classified as a taxi by the infallible algorithm? Will Google refuse to believe I’m human simply because I don’t know what a Twinkie is?

Before sticking a comment below, riddle me this – if something costs a half-a-crown, and you pay with a florin, how many tanners will you get in your change?

18 thoughts on “CAPTCHAs don’t prove you’re human – they prove you’re American

  1. rachel says:

    None…you’d be asked for another tanner 🙂

    1. Spike (@tenbus_uk) says:

      Or two thrupenny bits 🙂

  2. Alex Gibson says:

    I actually failed one of these recently. I gave up after 5 minutes of trying to identify parts of the photos containing street signs. The problem was scope: did they include the poles? tiny stranded corners? Informal signs? Having failed one, they seem to get fussier, and utterly fixated on street signs rather than throwing me an alternative challenge… I was forced to switch over to Internet Explorer (ugh!) and prove my humanity with an easier challenge…

    1. Jon Ribbens says:

      Top tip: just use incognito mode in your favourite browser rather than switching to Internet Explorer.

      1. Ashutosh Tiwary says:

        Simple still. Just use Firefox focus as your browser!

  3. Claudius Coenen says:

    In germany there used to be a “Groschen” (10 Pfennige or 1/10 of a Deutsche Mark). I would love to alienate both young people (who never experienced a currency discontinued in 2002) or anyone who never went to germany. Where can I start my own CAPTCHA-Service?

    1. Jozef Chocholáček says:

      In the Czechia, they use term “pětka” (~fiver) for 10 crown (CZK) coin, not for the 5 crown coin – because in 1892(!), when the Austro-Hungarian empire adopted the gold standard and changed its currency from guldens to crowns, 10 crowns was of the same value as 5 guldens previously.

      1. Dan Knauss says:

        No one knows what Czechia is either. Stick with Czech Republic!

        1. I agree with this sentiment. It doesn’t roll off the tongue nicely at all.

        2. Bryan Betts says:

          Czechia is fine, so’s the Czech Republic, but please, not ‘the Czechia’.

          Nice fiver story though. I wonder which Euro note will eventually take over the nickname?

  4. Quentin says:

    Rachel’s right, though if you didn’t have any tanners on your person, one and a half groats should sort you out.

  5. Wendy M. Grossman says:

    Alex Gibson: experimentation has shown me that you can ignore the poles. But these things are all hateful.


  6. Julian Bond says:

    Is there a silver Toyota Prius, that’s your Uber, in pic 1?

    1. Jez Nicholson says:

      That’s alright, if an Uber were a ‘taxi’ then it would have to follow rules and regulations 😉

  7. Raul P says:

    Localisation / localization is of the essence, innit.

  8. artesea says:

    Sidewalks and Store Fronts are my gripes.

  9. Norman says:

    Yellow taxis are probably New York and Los Angeles centric. I live in Idaho USA, and don’t recall ever seeing any yellow taxis here. The biggest taxi company in Boise has green cars, when they are painted.

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