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May 30, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: Yahoo word verification

WordverConnor Broaddus's submission also appeared in a recent Popular Science. Nice work, Connor!

Connor writes: "This is a Yahoo word verification, but what does it say?"


Ul7RW. That is one of the bad ones but i have seen much worse.

Posted by: unknown at May 30, 2005 12:21 AM

Yeah, whenever I join all those "logo surprise" groups on Yahoo!, I sometimes have a hard-as-heck time figuring out that word verification thingy!

Posted by: Seth Nelson at May 30, 2005 12:56 AM

Does it really matter? If you type in the wrong letter or number, most of the time you will get a new word for verification.

Posted by: Chaos at May 30, 2005 02:03 AM

Heh, maybe there's a program that'll do it for you.

Posted by: Nick at May 30, 2005 02:07 AM

Uh, people pardon my accent but I thought the idea was to give a set of letters that a human can read but a computer(autoamted responce cannot.

Posted by: roger holmes at May 30, 2005 03:14 AM

Its not a word, its abstract art.

Posted by: Picho at May 30, 2005 03:16 AM

heh, i had one that said shit one time, it was pretty cool, i wish i had done a screen shot but i forgot about it. that is pretty broken, i thought it said UL7rW BTW

Posted by: Robbie at May 30, 2005 05:49 AM

can't you push a button and have it give you a new 'word'?

Posted by: Bob at May 30, 2005 08:58 AM

uL7rW. Who said it had to be a proper English word? Not broken.

Posted by: Jay at May 30, 2005 09:08 AM

Bob yes if you type it incorrectly it gives you another chance with a different code.

What I don't understand is the need to have those extra lines most of the time it makes the given code look different.other companies use this similar procedure without the trouble I have with yahoo i.e.ticketmaster.

Posted by: kent at May 30, 2005 09:15 AM

So far we've had 3 distinct interpretations of this pattern. I also could see uU7rW, uLS7rW, and maybe even all of the above with a small w at the end. That's pretty ambiguous.

I'm sure this does prevent most automated systems from getting through, but how many humans does it prevent? Even if it offers you a second and third chance, it wouldn't take too many examples like this to make me just give up entirely. Bad customer experience.

Posted by: E.T. at May 30, 2005 09:27 AM

The ironic thing is, spammers aren't using AIs to crack these CAPTCHAs, they're using human beings.

For example, they will download all the GIFs, feature them as a login requirement on some X-rated sites, and let the lonely Internet denizens do all the hard work for them.

Posted by: quanta at May 30, 2005 10:31 AM

Umm, last time I checked UL3rW isn't a word. Yahoo calls their program Word Verification, and then asks you to enter the text, but the text you enter in isn't a word.

Not only that but these things don't stop automated programs. I've seen a couple research projects where they are able to crack these on the first time 80%-90% of the time.

The only things these enter text to verify you're a person do is discriminate against those who are blind and use adaptive technology to view the web (screen readers), or anoy normally sighted visitors. Network solutions used to have this same sort of thing running when you'd try and do a whois on a domain, but they have abandoned it becasue of the user issues and frustration. When I am confronted by one of these find the hidden message id's, I just leave.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at May 30, 2005 11:36 AM

How about a sound clip that plays instead of text indentification

Posted by: unknown at May 30, 2005 12:09 PM

Word verification on some sites, and i think Yahoo offers it, has an option where it will read off what is in the box via a wav file. I have had to use it many occasions because of the fact that i can not read what is in the box and it is very useful.

Posted by: Andraste at May 30, 2005 12:14 PM

So if you're deaf and blind and just access it through a braille interface, do they provide a plain-text option? :P

Posted by: fluffy at May 30, 2005 12:18 PM

a set of letters that a human can read but a computer cannot

Exactly. ;)

Posted by: Nick at May 30, 2005 12:33 PM

good shit, those guys that scripted this smoke too much pot

Posted by: dusoft at May 30, 2005 05:04 PM

slashdot's is worse. Most of them are in all uppercase but it only accepts the lowercase version as correct.

Posted by: josh at May 30, 2005 07:00 PM

that is pretty broken. i hate those things. couldnt they do something more simple like answering a question (i.e: The name of this website is:________ [yahoo])


Posted by: Luke's Father at May 30, 2005 07:57 PM

Hm. I thought it was either ULTTW, ULTrW, or ULTYW. Although come to think of it, maybe that is a 7 rather than a T. At least they could use characters that aren't ambiguous and that actually come with some context!

And Yahoo doesn't have the audio clip option, either. I've found, incidentally, that I can usually decipher the audio ones better than the visuals despite my rather dodgy hearing, which should say something about these things.

Not to mention that I have a hard enough time entering random strings of characters without any distortion applied to them, as I imagine is the case with many dyslexics...

Posted by: codeman38 at May 30, 2005 08:55 PM

The biggest problem with this type of challenge to distinguish automated singn-ups from a human being is that software recognition algorithms continue to improve. To defeat the software, the letters and numbers in the puzzle need to be distorted and obscured to a degree that even humans have trouble recognizing them.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at May 31, 2005 08:56 AM

What's so bad about automated registration that they have to make it impossible for normal people to sign in? Seriously, the tech guys who wrote that are broken, as is the person who allowed it to be on Yahoo.

And JW- How is this discriminatory? How are blind people using Yahoo anyway? Aren't computers visual interfaces? Hard for blind people to use anyway.

Posted by: Bob at May 31, 2005 11:21 AM

Bob, I know a half-dozen blind Internet users. They use screen readers, typically.

Posted by: James Schend at May 31, 2005 12:14 PM

I'd say UL7(maybe r)W

Posted by: Me at May 31, 2005 08:33 PM

You should have seen me try to do that for an MSN passport thingie. Ugh. It took me 10 minutes because there were some letters that looked like the little swishy lines that I thought meant nothing.

Posted by: Jon at June 1, 2005 12:18 PM

all right, Mr. Schend, but what's a screen reader?

Posted by: Bob at June 1, 2005 04:23 PM

i think it is some kind of video to brail machine. Like the old dot matrix printers that had pins that moved. Or it could be a piece of software that reads every word on the screen

Posted by: unknown at June 1, 2005 05:22 PM

i think it is some kind of video to brail machine. Like the old dot matrix printers that had pins that moved. Or it could be a piece of software that reads every word on the screen

Posted by: unknown at June 1, 2005 05:23 PM

Hmmm... Interesting point. It is called so why can no one understand a so-called . It's true, they are hard to read and aren't very secure. Heck, I'v had websites I couldn't access because of this recognition.

Posted by: FreedomLinux at June 1, 2005 08:59 PM

Here is the link to one of the research projects Joshua Wood mentioned:

Posted by: anitsirK at June 1, 2005 09:15 PM

I have a blind friend who uses a screen reader that turns text on the screen into an auditory interface...

Posted by: Travis at June 2, 2005 05:14 AM

That's interesting. I'll bet it mangles the pronunciation of a lot of words, though. How does your blind friend click on links & stuff?

Posted by: Bob at June 2, 2005 08:51 AM

The computer game, America's Army (Commissioned and distributed for free by the US Army) requires similar verification to set up an account. Trouble is, most of the screens are totally incomprehensible, with Os and 0s looking the same, as well as Is, Ls, and 1s, among other things. Worse still, the pattern changes after each attempt....

Posted by: JALF at June 3, 2005 12:52 PM

I don't use AOL but they have very good verification system

Posted by: Nick Karnbach at June 3, 2005 04:23 PM

Ughhhh... I hate aol. Although I'll bet no autologgers will get in, neither will I.

Posted by: Bob at June 4, 2005 09:42 PM

in the thumbnail, it looks like ultrw. it's clearer smaller.

Posted by: Bob at June 5, 2005 02:43 PM

I never got the word varification abstractness. most graphics programs i have used have a "text" option, that produces legit, readable text so can't they use that so we can read it?

Posted by: CradilyM at June 8, 2005 11:55 PM

The word verfication box is not on my yahoo so I can make a new account

Posted by: Christy at June 20, 2005 07:56 PM

The worst thing about this is that it isnt just for signing up.. I got one of these the other day when I went to send an email out of a Yahoo act I've had for ages.

Posted by: Liz at July 28, 2005 02:04 PM

"I never got the word varification abstractness. most graphics programs i have used have a "text" option, that produces legit, readable text so can't they use that so we can read it?"

But then an automated process could easily read the text (Google for OCR). The whole point is to prevent computers from understanding the images, and still allow humans to read them.

Posted by: ddh at July 30, 2005 12:06 AM

You might look up the definition of "word" again sometime. You might be sure to realize that its presence in any dictionary nary qualifies it as a word, because a dictionary is only one list of words, not the filter through which all bunches of letters must pass in order to be consider words or not words. A sound, group of sounds, symbol or group of symbols is the minimal requirements for a word. Likewise, just because Scrabble doesn't consider proper names and contractions as words according to its rules, they are still words. If I assert that uL7rW is a word that means "the word that must be typed in order for you to gain access", then it is unquestionanly a word by the purest definition. A dictionary is not the fliter for determining whether a word is a word, it is a listing of words in current, common use and their definitions. A colloquialism is a word used by a group of people that may not be present in a dictionary, such as the pronunciation of "ask" like "axe". This makes the pronunciation "axe" correct, as a colloquialism because it fits the defintion of a word, and is effective within that group to represent its intended concept, regardless of someone says that it "isn't" a word. Etymology books, or those listing the origins/histories of words, often list simply first appearances of such words in published media. The fact that uL7rW has now appeared in this remark with a suggested definition, makes it eligible for inclusion in a future word origin study. Your act of declaring uL7rW as not-a-word makes it a word. Booyah.

Posted by: Mike at October 26, 2005 04:12 PM

I’m amazed that “word verification” has become a phenomena. This is something of a late entry to the WV party but I thought it was nice to see someone have some fun with it:

Posted by: Noel at January 30, 2006 12:04 AM

Uh, uL7rw?

Posted by: Eric at June 30, 2006 08:20 PM

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