Due to the deluge of spam comments and trackbacks that I regularly receive at this blog, I'm always on the lookout to find ways to reduce it. Most recently with Automattic's Askimet service. Askimet has been pretty successful for me, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about adding some level of CAPTCHA functionality to the blog.

A lot of services now use CAPTCHA. These include Blogger and most signups for various web services, but apart from the fact that they're easily broken, like most people I find them highly annoying - the letters that you're supposed to pick out of the images and sometimes just downright impossible to discern:

Huh?

I've often thought that there must be better ways to do this, when out of left field, Tim O'Reilly points us to HotCaptcha from the folks that brought you HotOrNot?. Here you're presented with nine pictures of individual people, only three of which are judged “hot”. Pick the right three and you're a human.

Now, ignoring the potentially NSFW content, this is pretty cool. They have provided a webservice that uses the collective intelligence of humans to put together a question set that is almost impossible for a non-human to answer. Pretty cool.

Now, where could this go? How about something like presenting a bunch of pictures from Flickr and a set of tags, where only one of the tags applies to all of the pictures?

I'm sure that there are a bunch of potential solutions in the same vein that can get us better results than standard CAPTCHA and with none of the annoyances.

Hopefully we can stop squinting at bad CAPTCHA soon.