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What is this funny word, “CAPTCHA” I keep seeing all over the Internet?

Yes, CAPTCHA is rather odd sounding, but it’s something we all have to deal with on the Internet from time to time. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing [test to tell] Computers and Humans Apart. It’s basically a kind of response test used with computers to determine if a user is human or not.

In other words, when you’re on certain Web sites, have you ever had to type in a series of letters and numbers in order to continue on? If so, that’s a CAPTCHA test! The code is sometimes distorted or it will have a design behind it that makes it a little harder to read. It’s something like this:

CAPTCHA tests are usually used on sites that allow you to do your shopping online. Even sites like MySpace and Ticketmaster, among others, use them a lot too.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Yes, CAPTCHA tests are sometimes hard to solve, but they are there for our own good. They are mainly used for security, especially on Web sites that require you to enter in your personal information. See, sometimes hackers use what are called bots to attack users. The bots are generated by computers and in reality, computers are unable to solve the CAPTCHA tests. Only humans can type in the right code and continue on, so that really helps in keeping you safe. So, while it’s true that these tests can be quite a nuisance, I always feel better when I see them. I know I’m in good hands when I do. I’m sure you’ll think differently about them now too!