In Case You Were Wondering What CAPTCHA Is…

This week on In Case You’ve Been Wondering WTF That Means, I bring you this annoying little screen:

I’m sure most of you have seen this pop up one time or the other when you’re filling out forms, downloading stuff or registering accounts,  which you’ll have to do a fun little exercise like this:

If you thought that it was because robots somewhere are planning to take over the Internet and humans are trying to stop them, you’re not alone. A good number of us thought so too.

The actual reason for CAPTCHA codes is infinitely less animated than we all thought. I’ll get right into it.

CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – it’s a long one and a mouthful – and it’s purpose is to do exactly what it’s name suggests.

Let me elaborate. The job of CAPTCHA codes is to stop software bots from infiltrating sites by adding a test that only humans can pass.Why’s this necessary, you ask?

Minimising Bandwith

Bandwith is geek-talk for the monthly amount of content you’re allowed to upload to and download from your Internet Service Provider. File-sharing sites particularly need a lot of bandwith to support users’ activities. Since the aim of these sites is to make profit, they like to minimise the activity of free users in order not to lose cash. Software robots could gain access to these sites and download a lot of files within a short period and CAPTCHA protects against this.


To Discourage Creation of Fake Accounts. 

Social media sites and email services like as much as possible to have legitimate information about each real live user. To this end, they make it so that a person can only have one account. Thinking around these restrictions, internet marketers use software robots to create hundreds of fake accounts with fake details. This way, they can influence polls in their favour or in favour of a minority and it’s the job of CAPTCHA codes to minimise or stop these happenings.


It’s very common to find annoying ads about weightloss and male enhancement drugs pop up whenever you open some sites. That’s internet marketing for you. Anything to reach the consumer. Anyway, that’s what spam posts are. And these are another kind of thing that the code was made to prevent.

It’s annoying, some may argue, and slows down your process, but it’s necessary. I don’t know about you, but if I see one more performance enhancement ad pop up while I’m trying to illegally download my music…


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