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I tried to post a lengthy answer, and the system won't post it makes me enter a capcha. That's one of those things where they show images of smeared text to foil automatic text interpretation software. However, there are two problems with this:

  1. I am already logged in, so GET OFF MY CASE!

  2. I am human, but I still can't make out the letters. They are so obfuscated I can't figure them out reliably either.

With your paranoid attitude you are now making it impossible for legitimate users to do legitimate things.

LIGHTEN UP!

Here is a example where I just failed again:

The first time I clicked on the button it did nothing. I waited a few seconds and clicked again. This time it told me I got it wrong and popped up a different capcha. I entered what I thought was right and it just poofed me back to the question without having submitted my answer.

More:

I just found out that on apparently three of my tries it did post my answer. Since it didn't show me the answer, I thought it didn't get posted and kept trying again. I deleted two of them to the extent I can. The whole mess is here: Rules and guidelines for drawing good schematics

Added 5 Sep 2012:

I just got another one that real humans can't decypher either:

It rejected that input.

Is this overly aggressive system ever going to get fixed!!?

Added 26 June 2013:

Here is another one that failed:

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    \$\begingroup\$ I must say that lately I too have been having problems with reCAPTCHA on various sites, but I can't remember the last time I've seen it on any of the stack exchange sites. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Mar 18 '12 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: meta.electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/955/… \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Mar 19 '12 at 12:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin The SE folks have said in the past that generally when people complain about the captchas it is when they are doing something odd. Possibly your answer posted the first time with no need for the captcha, but then the system noticed you trying to post the same thing again so it poped up a captcha to make sure you weren't a robot posting spam (because of the multiple answers). I would still agree that there might be a bug here, but it might be more related to not seeing the answer pop up and less related to the captcha itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Mar 19 '12 at 12:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have seen this a lot too - but not when posting a long answer. I tend to draft my answers in notepad first and paste the result into the edit box. This can take some time with other distractions (such as work). Maybe the Capcha is requested if the connection gets dropped while you are cogitating. I agree also that the Capcha text is hard to read. I created a StackExchange openid account the other day (myOpenID can be unreliable) and it took five attempts to get a Capcha I could actually read! \$\endgroup\$ – MikeJ-UK Mar 20 '12 at 10:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kellenjb: I got the captcha the first time I tried to post the answer. After MikeJ's comment, I think I see what is triggering the captcha. Real humans type at some maximum speed, which is very different from pasting a large chunk. Since that answer was so long, I wrote it in a editor and previewed it off line in my browser. From SE's point of view, it could have looked like a bot was posting when I finally posted it. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Mar 20 '12 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kellenjb: That still leaves two problems. 1: The captchas are too hard to read, even for real humans. The one I show above is much easier than most. I still don't understand why it didn't work. What would you have typed? 2: It took minutes for my post to show up. I have posted many answers here, and that's the first time that happend. Between that and the captcha problems, I thought my post request was simply ignored. There is definitely something not quite right in the software. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Mar 20 '12 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin Lathrop - I think the second word is savaged. The "a" has a long tail making the "v" look like a "y" ... I think. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeJ-UK Mar 20 '12 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you encountered this recently? This kinda sounds like a network issue... Also, you normally shouldn't be seeing these very often at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Shog9 Aug 1 '12 at 5:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shog9: No, I haven't encountered at captcha for a while, but there are other problems with the site related to security, which I think this is all part of. For example, I'm on the photography site too sometimes, but I still have to log in again between the two sometimes. I should be logged in to SE as a whole, then be able to move around as long as I maintain the same browser session. On one system I'm on, it's actually physically impossible to log in. I am forever stuck in EE.SE on that system with the current cookies or whatever. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Aug 1 '12 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ This last update seems to be a different problem. You have stopped getting the captcha really really often. IF you have other things you want to discuss post other questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Sep 8 '12 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: I never got the captcha often and I never said I did. The issues are still the same: 1 - It pops up (not often for me, but that is not the issue) when I am already logged in. It should trust me at that point. 2 - The captchas are too obfuscated so that real humans often can't make them out either. 3 - The site policies are too paranoid. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Sep 8 '12 at 22:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin - I'm working on a new computer, so no cookies installed yet. On some SE sites I had to log in the first time, but then never again. I went to the Photography site for the first time on this computer (though I was already registered), and it logged me in automatically, so it seems there's a domain-wide cookie for it. Maybe in IE you have cookies disabled for some sites? \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Sep 9 '12 at 8:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin - BTW, a (belated?) happy birthday. I remember the counter was still at 55 a few weeks ago.. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Sep 9 '12 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, I don't have cookies disabled, and nothing about specific sites. Thanks for the reminder I'm getting older ;-) That happened last August. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Sep 10 '12 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Olin - Wiser!, Olin, always say wiser, not older :-). \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Sep 10 '12 at 15:16
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I remember having the CAPTCHA once or twice on SE sites, each time when I made a couple of edits very quickly one after another. But being logged in should be sufficient to trust you, and CAPTCHAs are not necessary then. The tag is not a good answer.

The purpose of a CAPTCHA is twofold:

  • Keep bots and other malicious users out, and
  • Allow legitimate users in

There are CAPTCHAs and CAPTCHAs, and the one used by SE seems to have forgotten about the second purpose. My experience with this one is that I often have to generate several new images because they are totally illegible. I can understand that having to retype it (maybe twice?) is too much for Olin's short fuse :-).
If you need a CAPTCHA, why not use one which does not try to keep you out, like the one I use on my own site?

From time to time I reject suggested edits like this one:

enter image description here

This seems to from a bot, but I don't see what they're aiming for. It makes no sense and the links are also just a random sequence of letters. But recently I had this twice in a few hours time, and on the same answer. Wouldn't it be better if the CAPTCHA were used for anonymous users than for registered users who are logged in?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I can see the point of challanging unregistered users, new users, and those with low rep, since bots could have these characteristics. But once you're logged in, have been here a while, and have accumulated some minimum rep (100 points maybe), the system should really trust you. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Sep 10 '12 at 15:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop then prime hacking targets would be that, or any user could simply write 3 crap answers and infinitely spam the site till a moderator deletes them. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Sep 11 '12 at 6:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh those suggested edits you see the user did have to do a captcha. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Sep 16 '12 at 22:30

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