Google is to begin charging for the use of its reCAPTCHA anti-robot testing service. You have to exceed a million queries a month or a thousand queries a second to attract the charge, but places like Cloudflare can easily run up those sorts of numbers.
Again, this is entirely rational for Google. If the value of the image classification training did not exceed those costs, it makes perfect sense for Google to ask for payment for the service they provide. In our case, that would have added millions of dollars in annual costs just to continue to use reCAPTCHA for our free users. That was finally enough of an impetus for us to look for a better alternative.
So Cloudflare are going elsewhere to keep Terminators and other insidious robots at bay. They're going to use a service called hCaptcha instead.
Some website traffic is undoubtedly a bot and can therefore be rejected and some website traffic is undoubtedly human and can therefore be allowed, but Captchas are necessary when a site's automated checks cannot be sure either way. Or so we're told.
I hate these things with a passion — the temerity of a machine asking me to prove I'm human. I hate anything that gets in my way of seeing the content I'm after and, unless I absolutely have to access the website in question, I'll just hit the back button when confronted with a Captcha.
I class these interruptions in the same category as the privacy and cookie confirmations we're presented with when we access sites these days. There are so many of them that they just wear us down. We might sometimes select the cookies we're prepared to tolerate, but most of the time we just hit Accept in frustration at yet another interruption.
That makes it all somewhat pointless. The way it should be is the so-called essential cookies should be on by default and everything else should be off. That should be the understanding upon which you access any site without interruption. Only if you want to change that should you have to go and fiddle with some settings. If a site cannot allow you in on that understanding, then it should tell you and you can either choose to allow them to pilfer more of your browsing data or back out. All countries should legislate to apply these defaults and we can get rid of a lot of the pointless pre-entry furniture that stands in the way of content.
Anyway, back to Captchas, I don't know how it's my problem that a website cannot determine whether or not I'm human. I already know I am and don't expect to be interrupted to prove what I already know. It's the target website's problem and they shouldn't try to make it mine. Harsh? Maybe, but that's the way I see it.
Consider this my Sunday rant.