Lee Phillips

June 30th, 2023

I’m not a major internet tycoon: I own 10 domains, that I acquired for various specific purposes. I’ve had them all registered with an outfit called DirectNIC for many years; some of the domains over a decade. They’re not the cheapest nor the most convenient: their website is a bit annoying. But they were competitive when I started with them, and I’ve stayed on mainly out of inertia. Until a few days ago, when I transferred all my domains to another registrar.

What did it for me was this: logging in to renew a domain that was about to expire, I was presented with a “captcha”: one of those delightful puzzles where you are held up while you click on all the boxes containing a fire hydrant or a plant, or whatever. After completing the first captcha, I was required to complete a second one. Then they let me in to do my business.

I didn’t think much of it. But the next time I logged in, the same thing: two captchas before I was allowed to do the thing that I was paying them to allow me to do. After the third time, I initiated the transfer.

The best thing about captchas is the entertainment that one can extract from wondering if the machine considers the category “animal” to include people (apparently not), and other such philosophical amusements. But this is not enough to counteract the annoyance of being forced to behave like a monkey in a badly designed animal behavior experiment before conducting my business with a company that I am paying. I want to get in and get out. Anything that stands in the way of that is an imposition.

I can no more comprehend the state of mind of people who think this would be a good idea, or even that it would be tolerable to their customers, any more than I feel that I’m in the same universe with people who are sure that a door slam in front the article that I’m trying to read would be just the thing. In other words, nearly all web designers working today are some kind of insane, or beset with an insane hatred of anyone who would dare to try to look at their websites.

I know that the decision to implement a captcha is not a web design choice. But it shares the quality of a complete inability to put oneself in the shoes of customers and visitors. I’m glad there’s real competition in this space. If a company is this deeply committed to annoying me and wasting my time, I’m gone.

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