8

A few days ago, I tried to submit an answer and was surprised when a captcha popup appeared, requiring me to tick an "I'm not a robot" box and possibly pick out some pictures before continuing.

Why should we have to do captchas while logged in?

The system clearly recognised that I was logged in to my SE account. I've been around on this site for over a year and have got nearly all the rep-based privileges; why should I need to prove I'm not a robot at this stage?

(The result of this delay was that another user posted a near-identical answer first and got the accepted answer instead of me. However, this isn't the first time it's happened.)

If it makes a difference, my internet connection at the time was very slow and dodgy. I'd already tried to submit the answer a couple of times and just got an error message since the page wasn't loading. The captcha was also very slow to work. In the end I opened another window and posted the answer there, and succeeded without needing to complete a captcha test.

  • When my Internet is crapping out, Google makes me do captchas for web searches. – user31178 Dec 7 '15 at 3:34
  • "I'd already tried to submit the answer a couple of times " because you were behaving like a spambot. – phantom42 Dec 7 '15 at 15:03
  • 1
    @phantom42 Well, I've never been so insulted :-P – Rand al'Thor Dec 7 '15 at 15:05
10

Being a high-rep, logged-in user doesn't automatically solve the problems CAPTCHA is aiming to solve. Although it certainly means you weren't intended to be a spambot, it doesn't preclude you from becoming one; what if some malware got onto your computer and hijacked your account info?

Personally, I'm of the opinion that high-rep users should have more CAPTCHAs, simply because we can do more damage if our accounts are compromised. But, as it stands, we already get less; per the Complete Rate-Limiting Guide, 10k+ users get CAPTCHAs on:

  • Your second question posted within 30 seconds
  • Your second answer posted within 30 seconds
  • Your second edit within 10 seconds, or if it takes you less than 5 seconds to edit

Sub-10K users are limited on the same actions, but the numbers are generally doubled1.

I don't think anyone is going to argue that CAPTCHAs are a perfect system; I'm certainly not trying to. But they do solve a problem and, as Jeff said in a blog post (emphasis his):

When you design your software, work under the assumption that some of your users will be evil

[...]

Because when good is dumb, evil will always triumph.


1 The major exception to this is on answering; users with less than 125 rep can only post one answer every 3 minutes, so they don't trip an additional CAPTCHA.

The other exception is on short edits; all users get a CAPTCHA on edits that take less than five seconds

  • I was going to say what @user14111 said. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Dec 7 '15 at 6:10
  • I've never had a captcha ever on any SE. I'm guessing noscript & FF are keeping them away from me... yet if it is that easy to circumvent it's not really effective - or I'm missing out on site features without realising it :P – BMWurm Dec 7 '15 at 12:16
  • @BMWurm Well, ideally a real user should never see a CAPTCHA; I've only ever seen one once (except on Data.SE, where I see them constantly because I don't bother to log in). So if you're not seeing them, then they're either working perfectly or failing spectacularly – Jason Baker Dec 7 '15 at 15:03
  • I got a captcha again just now, despite being a mod this time. Guess SE just won't accept that I'm human ... – Rand al'Thor Jun 30 '16 at 0:20

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