Ticketmaster dumps 'hated' Captcha verification system

Captcha screenshot Say what? Users have been frustrated by having to figure out barely decipherable words

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The world's largest online ticket retailer is to stop requiring users to enter hard-to-read words in order to prove they are human.

Captcha - which asks users to type in words to prove they are not robots trying to cheat the system - is used on many sites.

But Ticketmaster has moved to ditch it in favour of a simpler system.

It means users will write phrases, such as "freezing temperatures", rather than, for example, "tormentis harlory".

Captcha stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, and was first developed at Carnegie Mellon university in 2000.

For sites such as Ticketmaster, Captcha is used to make sure robots are not used to buy up tickets automatically.

'Most hated'

As these robots have become more sophisticated, Captcha has had to become more advanced in order to stay effective. But in the process, it has become more difficult for humans to understand.

"It is generally speaking the one of the most hated pieces of user interaction on the web," said Aaron Young, from user experience consultancy Bunnyfoot.

Start Quote

It is generally speaking the one of the most hated pieces of user interaction on the web”

End Quote Aaron Young Usability expert

"The major problem with them is that it's not unusual for several attempts to be needed.

"So when people see them again on different websites they have negative expectations."

He told BBC News: "It's not going to be immediately extinguished. It's evolving into something easier."

A move away from Captcha would also be good news for users with accessibility difficulties, Mr Young added.

"Captcha has a spoken command, which meets to some degree the accessibility challenge, but it's still not ideal."


Ticketmaster is now using software created by New York start-up Solve Media, a similar service that asks for well-known phrases, or simple multiple choice questions.

Solve Media Captcha box Better? Ticketmaster is moving to use Solve Media's technology, which can also incorporate adverts

Solve Media's system can be used for advertising as well as user verification - and uses a combination of digital cues to work out whether a person is real or not.

Trials of the new system had shown positive signs, Ticketmaster said.

"We're starting to see an uptick in fan satisfaction," said Kip Levin, Ticketmaster's executive vice president of eCommerce.

"We're happy with what we've seen from a security standpoint as well."

He added that the average time to solve a Captcha puzzle was 14 seconds, while the new system was taking users an average of seven seconds to figure out.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    I won't be sorry to see the back of this system. I've lost numerous tickets whilst trying to decipher what the words are supposed to be. As far as bots are concerned I don't think they're that big a problem when Ticketmaster has been caught buying up tickets in advance for re-sale on it's own re-sale site at inflated prices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    with the 'reCAPTCHA' brand of captcha you're helping to digitise old books, one word is a print from a old book that a computer couldn't read and the other is a known captcha from which to check the word against, its pretty clever stuff, so theres a bright side to them, doing a bit for humanity. is 7 seconds really that much of a diffrence

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Now all we need from Ticketmaster is a reduction in the ridiculous commissions they add and we'll all be happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    I think Lord Teapot demonstrates a societal problem.
    How about finding real people in a real shop?

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.


  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    John @32: for the "Dyson" test I advise putting "This test sucks hard"

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Can someone explain the logic of using a third party to sell you tickets to any event?
    Why not buy direct from the people putting on the show?
    Guess that means..we should not trust the Meerkat.Or heaven forbid,any third party.
    Or,we can keep on giving them a nice income.
    No doubt,very much appreciated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Although it sometimes takes a couple of goes, it's never put me off any web service before.

    It's disappointing news though as many CAPTCHA tools are used to help digitise scanned books. If sites start to use these less it will slow down the rate this work is done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Good! It's an awful widget and half the time the meaningless gobbledygook it produces takes 3 or 4 attempts to interpret. I'm sure I read somewhere that even the pople that created it admitted it was awful!

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    seems to me that the way forward is to ask a logic question

    something simple like show 5 numbers

    in graphics of cource, to force the robots to use text recognition to read them

    then a question in graphics


    what is the sum of the largest and the second largest number?

    the robots will catch up but the system could evolve to cope with this

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Lets hope this is the beginning of a trend. It usually takes me 5 times to correctly guess the gobbledygook that is suppose to prove that I am human. I have been prevented from using so many sites because of Captcha that now when I see it I assume the company that owns the website will generally be difficult to deal with in other aspects as well and then often don't bother.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.


  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    I'm dyslexic & hate captcha with a passion.
    Many times I have been unable to complete a transaction, make a comment, or join in a forum because of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Well done Ticketmaster - now all you need to focus on is the ludicrous "services fees" that you extort on each and every ticket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.


    Fuzzy, when you bought him, did you ask specifically for a gay computer...
    I've just been thinking about my earlier post and regret it. I should have given it more thought. It can be seen as was somewhat homophobic, yet I don't consider myself anti gay. I'm sorry if I've offended anyone. Good night.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Im not surprised really.

    It clearly doesnt work,I have tried time and time again to type into the one above and it wont let me!
    Also it hasn't changed all day.
    I dont think its a very good tool tbh

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    familiar words is certainly an improvement. I didn't appreciate how hard to use these were until I went through how to sign up to a service over the phone with my friends older mother. she was computer literate but to her, Capta seemed like a strange object that 'might be trying to trick me'. They always looks odd and ugly. Technically good but not user friendly

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    I suspect that there is more to this than meets the eye. I was attempting to count the number of houses in my small village for a project and used the Post Office post code finder. After a while it asked me to enter one of those wiggly letter things. No email address was given but next I received a mail from a Dutch company offering to sell me post code information. Coincidence, you tell me?

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    The number of times I have to refresh Captcha before getting two readable words is increasing all the time, anything to improve it is welcome

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Parent on website with Captcha - "Can you make out what this word says as i cant tell what this squiggle says? I cant make out what it says never heard of it"

    Child offering assistance - "Oh dont worry about it, doesnt work properly, you can put anything random which seems close to it and it will work"

    *types in what he thinks it is*


    P.s Apologies for the twice duplication, BBCs fault


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