How PlayThru stops the bots
At Are You a Human, our approach to stopping spam is different from CAPTCHA, so I wanted to take some time to explain how it works.
We set out to get rid of those squiggly text CAPTCHAs that everyone hates. We could not just get people to remove them and be done. Those distorted words are there to keep spammers out. We needed to find a way to make it easier for humans but still difficult for computer programs.
Our games were developed with that in mind. They are quick and simple, 10 second challenges with elements that make it difficult for automated attacks. We place multiple images in our game and ask users to interact with them by dragging the correct shapes into the right location. These shapes are generally floating around in the game play area. This means that a computer must accurately identify the correct shape, find it on the screen, move it to the correct location. If there are any errors, we take that into account.
We maintain a variety of games and are always releasing more. These games have different sets of images, mechanics and game play. This keeps it fun for people and helps keep it difficult to create a single program to bypass PlayThru.
The difficulty of these games can be adjusted by adding more shapes, having the objects move faster, lowering the failure threshold and several other factors. Once all of the shapes are dragged in correctly, we end the game by showing a game complete screen.
However, getting to this point does not indicate success or failure. Passing the game is more than just playing the game correctly. We also track user (or bot) interaction with the game, like mouse movement. The data from this interaction is fed into our algorithm that determines a score for how likely it is to be human. This score for the game play is then stored. Once a user submits the game to a site, that site can request information about the success of that particular game. Each site can have different thresholds and settings, and we tell them whether the overall game should pass or fail based on their preferences.
Because our focus is on usability, we keep our games relatively simple and the pass threshold low by default, but we maintain the ability to increase these as needed. We also have multiple games, which makes solving one not as meaningful.
This flexibility is what makes PlayThru so powerful. It is not a one size fits all tool, and we have the ability to evolve our scoring system over time. This flexibility also allows us to constantly add new games, and breaking one game does not break the entire system.
We are always working to improve our scoring system to make it easier for people while keeping the bots at bay. Part of that includes writing bots of our own. However, we welcome those that want to create these bots in collaboration. The more data, we have the smarter the system can be. If you are interested, please email us at support (at) areyouahuman (dot) com, or send us a message in our forum.