TalkNew "Are you a robot?" check.

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New "Are you a robot?" check.

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Edited: Sep 16, 2019, 3:08pm

Lovely watercolor by conceptdawg in honor of our new robot detector:


LibraryThing has replaced its Google reCaptcha with a LibraryThing-created "Are you a robot?" page. If you sign out and sign in again, you should get it.

The page asks you to identify cooking and other food books amongst other books.

If you dislike it, or find it too difficult, you can click "Traditional Captcha" to get the standard Google reCaptcha one. We figured clicking on cookbooks was more fun than clicking on cars and streetlights.

* We've tested the page on every browser and OS we have access to. If you have problems, we want to hear them.
* Because some members disliked Google being involved, the alternative, Google one does NOT load unless you click to see it.
* The new page will give you a number of tries. If you fail too many times, it will require you to answer the Google one.
* You should only have to deal with the new robot-check page once per month, if you use the same browser and account. If you switch browsers and users a lot, you may need to deal with it more often. Clarification: If you stay logged in, you won't get it at all.
* We developed the system with various "levels" of security. If we see an increase in attacks, for example, we will get harder on missed answers, obfuscate the data more, etc. We are watching.

I hope you find the new one fun. If you find it annoying, my apologies. But we NEED this to cut down on automated attacks. All-day, every-day LibraryThing is being attacked by bots, seeking to create new accounts, or compromise existing ones. (The attacks come from huge "botnets," and can't be stopped by IP restrictions.) We MUST do something about this, for your security and for the health of the site overall.

Thanks! Tim

Sep 16, 2019, 2:49pm

Thank you! And Chris' art is gorgeous.

Sep 16, 2019, 3:02pm

Oh, that's perfect.

Sep 16, 2019, 3:07pm

You should only have to deal with the new robot-check page once per month, if you use the same browser and account.

So you're going to start expiring login cookies once a month, then?

Sep 16, 2019, 3:09pm

>4 lorax:

Added "Clarification: If you stay logged in, you won't get it at all."

We won't absolutely promise we won't expire cookies in the future; if we have to to fight bots, we will. But I don't foresee it.

Sep 16, 2019, 4:13pm

Will this apply to editing the wiki as well? That has a Captcha on it.

Sep 16, 2019, 4:23pm

People sharing my sense of humour will like this vision of the future of captcha technology:

Anyway, thanks for putting a stop to these spammers.

Sep 16, 2019, 4:34pm

>6 Helenliz:

Only insofar as logging into the site requires it. The other Wiki captcha is separate, and part of the wiki software.

Sep 16, 2019, 5:48pm

>4 lorax: No you won't have to sign in on a monthly basis. As long as you stay signed in you won't see the captcha.
Tim was saying that you can sign out and in as many times as you want and you will only see the captcha once per month once you've captcha'd successfully.

Sep 17, 2019, 1:28am

I hate the new system. Then again, I hated the other one too. My eyes are failing, and it's hard for me to discern the items being requested (whether it's cookbooks or Google nonsense). I'll get over it.

Sep 17, 2019, 1:35am

>11 timspalding:

Sorry. The Google one has an audio option, if you want to try it. We really need it—the bots just keep at it.

Sep 17, 2019, 1:53am

Maybe this isn't the forum for such a question, Tim, but how would bots profit from LT? And who do you think is likely behind their efforts?

Sep 17, 2019, 2:13am

>11 timspalding: Interesting. Maybe I'll try the audio next time. As I said, though, I'll deal with it. It was just a very long day. No worries, and thanks for pointing the audio out.

Sep 17, 2019, 2:33am


Sep 17, 2019, 3:42am

>12 krolik: Apparently they want to spam us all with friends requests and make a few of us click on some links. Since the attack is automated it is very cheap for them to pester us like this.

Sep 17, 2019, 4:51am

The new CAPTCHA doesn't work in my mobile browser (Opera Mini for BlackBerry). The cover images load, but aren't selectable. (As I mentioned in another thread, the Google CAPTCHA doesn't load at all. I haven't been able to log in to LT on my phone since the cookies were wiped.)

Sep 17, 2019, 8:37am

conceptdawg (#9):

When I wrote #4, Tim had not yet edited #1 to make that obvious.

(As an aside, I really, really hate it when people do that, rather than clarifying in a response. It makes the responder who asked what was at the time an entirely reasonable question look like a total idiot, and then later responders treat them as such, like here.)

Sep 17, 2019, 8:38am

bnielsen (#15):

Googlejuice is another possibility. (LT has nofollow turned on, but the spammers don't necessarily know that.)

Sep 17, 2019, 1:22pm

>17 lorax:

Lorax, I added the clarificaiton with the words "Clarification:" and then the clarification in bold. And then I posted a message with "Added "Clarification: If you stay logged in, you won't get it at all." What on earth could be more clear and explicit than that?!

>16 konallis:

Yipes. It's going to be really hard to support systems with as few users as Opera Mini for BlackBerry. Sending you a message by direct message.

>18 lorax:

It's mostly Googlejuice, I think.

Sep 17, 2019, 2:46pm

>18 lorax: and 19> Ah, yes, I forgot that spammers are stupid. (Or rather their bots are).

Sep 17, 2019, 2:53pm

Thank you for bringing back the the LT robot detector. That's more fun for me than Google's frustrating CAPTCHA. The new robot illustration is a lovely addition, too.

Sep 17, 2019, 3:41pm

Tim (#19)

The clarification is perfectly clear.

It was not clear prior to your edit, which was WHEN I POSTED #4.

Then conceptDawg came along in #9, AFTER YOUR EDIT, and responded to my #4 as though it had been written in the context of #1, in which case I would have been very stupid indeed to not have understood your very clear EDITED post.

Sep 17, 2019, 3:56pm

>19 timspalding: It isn't clear that Clarification: means that you had edited your post after it had already gotten several responses. ETA: is commonly used on this site to mean Edited To Add, but not everyone knows what that means.

Sep 17, 2019, 5:17pm

Thank you for designing for people who have to log in and out a lot! This is much improved.

Sep 18, 2019, 1:03am

I love the art!

I also really prefer the covers to the horrible horrible picture captcha, and I'm also happy not to be training google AI.

Sep 18, 2019, 2:26am

Love conceptdawg's art. Great choice of books! 😉

>7 bnielsen: HA-HA-HA.

>1 timspalding: Today when I logged in, the Google captcha was the default and it didn't work. Trying to remember all the way back to this morning, I think nothing actually came up for me to click on. I then clicked on the LT captcha, selected the cookbooks and it worked just fine. I'm on a Windows 10 PC with updated Chrome browser.

Sep 18, 2019, 4:22am

>26 rretzler:

Some of the non-English LibraryThing's default to the Google Captcha. It has to do with how many local covers we have. Could that be what you're talking about?

Sep 18, 2019, 4:43pm

>16 konallis:
>19 timspalding:
re: Opera Mini
The problem with Opera Mini is that it's not really a browser in the real sense of the word. It adheres to very few web standards and nearly anything and everything breaks it. It's basically just taking screenshots of sites and serving those up to you. Yes, that's hyperbole, but it really is a tough browser to support effectively for any interactive content.

Sep 18, 2019, 5:23pm

>28 conceptDawg:

I came up with a solution for that user, CH. Talk to me about it if you don't know what I mean.

Sep 19, 2019, 8:10am

>28 conceptDawg: Yes, Opera Mini isn't good at handling anything interactive (including standard web forms). Unfortunately, it's the best thing available for the platform.

Sep 19, 2019, 8:58am

Why cookbooks of all things? There's lots of scamming done with cookbooks. Why not SF with robots? Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep? / Blade Runner / I, Robot etc. Require the robot to ID robots to prove its humanity.

Sep 19, 2019, 10:29am

>31 Wordwizardw:

Having learned the lessons of PKD's parables, I have existential angst every time I check the re-Captcha box. It increases when I fail.

Edited: Sep 19, 2019, 11:52am

Why cookbooks of all things? There's lots of scamming done with cookbooks. Why not SF with robots? Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep? / Blade Runner / I, Robot etc. Require the robot to ID robots to prove its humanity.

Well, I needed strongly non-overlapping genres. There are some other options, but you can understand why it's not science fiction vs. fantasy, memoir vs. history, science vs. nature, etc.

Also, who doesn't like food?

Sep 19, 2019, 1:21pm

That was neat! Certainly more fun than Google stuff.

Sep 20, 2019, 5:09am

>33 timspalding: "I needed strongly non-overlapping genres"

I think traffic lights and cookbooks is a good choice :-)

Sep 20, 2019, 8:37am

Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 9:23am

>35 bnielsen: you challenged me ;)

_ and not a cover, but cooking related: by:Vicky Barone. exemplary: stop light
Rick Gallop, Joanna Dolgoff

Sep 20, 2019, 8:56am

>37 EMS_24: Hahaha.... Every two topics intersect eventually.

Edited: Sep 20, 2019, 9:53am

and the Glycemic Index by Rick Gallop.
(the covers didn't display here).

I did think of diet books and thought there might be a single book with traffic lights on. So now I challenge you to find books about how to cook and serve real traffic lights :-)

Sep 20, 2019, 10:11pm

Tried to use the plain reCaptcha, so I wouldn't have to squint at covers to decide which was actually food related and which might just have a metaphorical title, but I was told I had incorrectly submitted form. "Not quite right. Be sure to check the reCaptcha and answer all questions." I don't have my browser blocking scripts on this site (even checked with second browser), so it seems the form is still expecting a picture selection with the "traditional" option.

Sep 21, 2019, 12:50am

>40 sgrayme:

The reCaptcha system often requires you to identify some image--usually pick out the cars, traffic lights or whatever in a street scene.

covers to decide which was actually food related and which might just have a metaphorical title

FWIW, we're currently allowing one error per page. The success rate is very very high.

Sep 21, 2019, 2:02am

The regular (non-custom) recaptcha only presented me with the "I'm not a robot" checkbox, not the image grid.

Regarding the covers, I was only stating my reason for preferring a simpler captcha (the one-click checkbox) to log in, not implying anything is wrong with doing something more thematic to the site. It is human nature to choose the easier path when the alternative doesn't make a difference on the end result. :)

Sep 21, 2019, 2:14am

The regular (non-custom) recaptcha only presented me with the "I'm not a robot" checkbox, not the image grid.

Right. Sometimes, if it's not so sure, it'll give you an image grid. That's the problem with the one-click checkbox—if Google doesn't like the smell of you, your browser or your IP, you're labelling crosswalks in Hell :)

Edited: Sep 21, 2019, 2:34am

>1 timspalding: I love him! And it's even better that he belongs to LT.

ETA: the book-reading robot

>41 timspalding: Ah! I did miss one when I was signing in to my son's account but I had already messed up the password. However, the captcha let me through but I just had to re-enter the password (without having to redo the captcha after that).

Liking the cookbooks; they're nice and big and easy to see. As well as being book-related. My only problem is that my track pad seems to be sticking - but that's a personal issue.

Sep 21, 2019, 12:47pm

>1 timspalding: - Back in post #1 it said that the recaptcha should only show up about once a month. But I'm getting it every time I sign in. Is that in the future?

Sep 21, 2019, 12:52pm

>45 dudes22: Do you have your browser set to discard cookies when you close a session?

Sep 21, 2019, 1:22pm

>45 dudes22:

Chances are you have your browser set to clear all cookies whenever you close the browser or session. If so, you will get it every time. We rely on a persistent session cookie to remember which users you have used to log into in the last 30 days.

Sep 21, 2019, 4:08pm

ok - that explains it. DUH!

Sep 24, 2019, 12:02am

I like this guy over the regular google one, which must think I'm 25% robot by now. My main gripe was having to do it every time I logged in when it first appeared, and me constantly forgetting to hit the box as part of the login routine. I'd have to log in two or three times because I would forget about it.

I usually log out of sites as a security habit. I haven't had to redo the robot thing since a few days prior to the treasure hunt.

Sep 24, 2019, 9:18pm

I like the little guy! Definitely more entertaining than checking endless boxes with a piece of a fire hydrant in it. I'll probably get to see him plenty, as I often log in from work and our cookies get wiped regularly. It's a shame that LT, of all places, is getting hit so hard by bots these days.

Also, now I really want to bake traffic light brownies!

Sep 26, 2019, 11:31am

Love. Thanks!

Sep 27, 2019, 12:07am

This is such a good idea, Tim. Attractive, booky and tempting with the promise of good food - plus bot-proof. Thanks!

Sep 30, 2019, 4:38pm

I totally love this!!! It makes me smile each time I logon. (which is daily!!) Keep up the great work. Thank you very much!!

Oct 1, 2019, 3:58am


I would like to translate the whole "robot-thing" into german. But in the translate page, can not find the yellow marked phrases in my pages.
BTW: This occurs also on many other occasions.

Who can I find ALL not in german (or other languages) translated phrases?

Thank you

Oct 1, 2019, 5:34am

Oct 3, 2019, 4:05am

Hello, how often will we see this page? Every time we log in?

If I log out and log back in the next day, do I get the check?

Oct 5, 2019, 10:27am

Thanks for looking out for LT'ers!!

Oct 5, 2019, 11:11am

Having experienced this for a couple weeks (and being a big science fiction fan to boot), I really like your new 'Are you a robot?' system. Kudos and thank you! It's a lot easier and occasionally makes me smile at the random selections :)

Oct 5, 2019, 12:06pm

I haven't yet been confronted with this task, but I love that we're now training LT's AI rather than Alphabet's.

Oct 5, 2019, 4:14pm

I like it!

Oct 9, 2019, 11:16am

Best CAPTCHA ever, I love it.

Oct 9, 2019, 12:37pm

I haven't yet been confronted with this task, but I love that we're now training LT's AI rather than Alphabet's.

Ha. No AI involved. Just books and genres.

Then again, now that everything is AI, indeed, it's AI. Big-data AI. Machine learning AI. Strong AI!

Oct 10, 2019, 6:40am

>65 AndreasJ:

World domination through superior recognition of cookbooks?

Oct 10, 2019, 7:03am

I'm not bothered by that as much as whatever setting I changed on my PC that doesn't save our password for LT.

Oct 10, 2019, 7:23am

I like the idea of a robot reading books. There's a risk for him to become a ... Human!

Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 7:29am

>65 AndreasJ: Perhaps world domination through meal preparation?

Oct 10, 2019, 2:04pm

We already have robots preparing our meals and AI reading (as well as writing) books. Just as a fun reminder.

A note that's not as much fun, perhaps: Parts of book covers were cut off in the LT robot check for me today. On the worst if the batch, I could see the center of the cover but not all the edges, which mean the cover art, title, and author name were only partially visible.

Oct 11, 2019, 10:56am

>69 aspirit:

Yeah, sorry. On the plus side, you can get it wrong multiple times and indeed you don't need to get them all correct at any time.

Oct 11, 2019, 2:44pm

>70 timspalding: true. I didn't have any trouble entering the site despite maybe missing a cookbook. Your robot check is much, much nicer than Google's.

Oct 11, 2019, 7:50pm

Yeah, Google regularly zings me with "haha you didn't see the CORNER of the crosswalk in THIS square," or makes me do two or three in a row. I'm pretty happy with knowing that if I see "Beans of the World" on a book cover with a photo of food or a kitchen or plants or whatever, I can probably click in confidence.

Oct 12, 2019, 3:40pm

Love it! Thanks

Oct 18, 2019, 12:19am

Idea: Combine two new features...

"Which of these covers contain Explicit Images?"

Oct 18, 2019, 1:11am

>74 GuyMontag:

Cookbook or Japanese Porn?

Oct 18, 2019, 7:57am

Reminds me of the old joke about cookbooks being sold in Poland as science-fiction :-)

Oct 20, 2019, 8:39am

timspalding I like the new capthca. Could you give some context to the decision to make lifetime members fill it out? Are some lifetime members also engaging in undesirable attacks on the LT infrastructure?

Oct 20, 2019, 11:36am

>77 uoshah: Anyone's account can be hacked; it doesn't matter if you're a lifetime member or not. This isn't just a matter of bots making new accounts, they're hacking into real members' accounts.

Oct 20, 2019, 12:39pm

>77 uoshah:

Right. We had hackers going through a giant database of old stolen credentials, trying their username/password combinations on LibraryThing. Something like a percent worked. We had been defending against such attacks by penalizing too many hits by IP address, or region, but the attackers in this case were willing to slow down their attack over weeks, and had many thousands of machines all around the world, presumably from a zombie bot-net. The Captcha cut this off completely.

Oct 20, 2019, 1:33pm

>79 timspalding: and the rest of the LT staff. You have the patience of Job to attempt to stay on top of our "friends" who force you spend time and effort on stopping this. My thanks.

Oct 20, 2019, 4:12pm

>79 timspalding: Thanks for doing this. I much prefer the cookbooks to the stupid Captcha. As others stated, I often had to do it multiple times because I missed something or the photo was grainy. I never knew if the traffic signals they wanted me to select also included the poles they were on, or just the lights. Maybe I was overthinking it.

Oct 20, 2019, 4:17pm

>81 LadyoftheLodge:

Yeah, overthinking is the killer.

Oct 21, 2019, 9:29am

LadyoftheLodge (#81):

They don't really care about the poles. They care about the pattern, and slow, meticulous overthinking looks a lot like being passed through an image recognition program. For that sort of traditional captcha, fast and slightly wrong is often better than slow and totally right.

Oct 21, 2019, 9:41am

Are trucks "cars"? Apparently so, in a recent captcha query. Two of the three correct images were trucks. Imprecise, thoughtless language … or deliberate gotcha?

Oct 21, 2019, 10:27am

Of course it's not a deliberate gotcha. That's ridiculous.

Oct 21, 2019, 3:14pm

>84 2wonderY: Any vehicle under 10k lbs. US is considered a car, regardless of if it's a pick-up truck, SUV, or sedan. (Not sure what the European conversion on this is) At least this was my experience when working with mechanics and the DMV of three states plus DC

Oct 21, 2019, 3:41pm

This was my first log in with the new robot Gotcha. Previously, as I recall, I just had to click a button, no selection of pictures. But Microsoft was no longer saving my password. This time it asked if I wanted my password saved and it moved to the Robot Gotcha. Hopefully, my password saved, and hopefully, only needing to do the Gotcha one time a month, will encourage me to actually log out of my account, instead of leaving it open, even if I close the page, which probably leaves me more vulnerable in the first place.

This isn't the only site where I am seeing the Gotcha request. Thanks for working to keep things updated and fun at the same time.

Oct 21, 2019, 3:45pm

No such luck!! My computer is not saving my password, and this time didn't even give me the option to ask me if I wanted to. That is what I noticed most with the new Gotcha. Is there any way to get it to save our password, or with the Gotcha, does it prevent that from happening? I use Microsoft Edge for my browser?


Oct 21, 2019, 4:19pm

>84 2wonderY: The Swedish definition of a car is something with at least 3 wheels and that isn't a quadricycle, agricultural vehicle or a combat vehicle. Then you subdivide that into private vehicles ("regular cars"), trucks/lorries, and busses.

According to English Wikipedia, a car is "a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of car say they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four tires, and mainly transport people rather than goods", which would rule out trucks.

Oct 21, 2019, 4:47pm

>89 PawsforThought: In the US suburbs at least pickup trucks mainly transport people.

Oct 21, 2019, 5:00pm

>90 jjwilson61: But >84 2wonderY: only said "trucks".

Oct 21, 2019, 5:10pm

Are you claiming that a pickup truck isn't a truck??

Oct 21, 2019, 6:57pm

>92 jjwilson61: I would differentiate a pickup truck from a "regular" truck. When I say truck I mean lorry. That is very different from a pickup truck in my opinion.

Oct 21, 2019, 6:59pm

In the US pickup owners are proud of their trucks.

Oct 22, 2019, 10:58am

>88 MarySchubert: The question about whether to save your password isn't LT - it's your Microsoft Edge browser. The new Captcha should not have stopped it from saving your password, or made it stop asking - it hasn't changed it for me.

Try going into your "Settings" (under the three dots in the top corner) and check the options under Privacy and under Passwords to make sure you have cookies and password-saving still set the way you want them to be. (And make sure that, under Manage Passwords, LibraryThing didn't somehow get set to Never Ask.)

If that doesn't work it might be something more complicated going wrong with the way your computer is set up, and it might be worth asking someone local to you who can help you with it.

Oct 26, 2019, 3:08am

Thank you; I hate having to do free labour for a billion dollar corporation to use a web site!

Oct 26, 2019, 3:46am

This user has been removed as spam.

Oct 27, 2019, 9:19am

I like it. It makes LT even more fun.

Oct 29, 2019, 8:49am

>96 sbisson:

Now you get to do it for a thousand-dollar one! :)

Nov 2, 2019, 2:23am

That system is pretty fun. I have never seen anything like that before. Honestly though, I was a little worried when I first saw it. I mean sometimes you can't tell a book's genre by its cover. Good thing I was asked to find cookbooks and I had no problem finding those.

Edited: Nov 2, 2019, 3:00am

How to make Artificial Intelligence Human Compatible and the Problem of Control Stuart Russell

Nov 6, 2019, 1:19pm

It's really fun when I recognize one of the covers from my catalog. :-)

Nov 12, 2019, 2:05pm

Find the food and drink books is easier and more fun than captcha, sometimes it's hard to see whether the book is about food and drink, but if you get it wrong, you can try again. Like it!

Nov 13, 2019, 7:45pm

Nov 14, 2019, 12:35am

>104 lorax: Bit of a sting in the tail for that, considering what Google's captcha is doing.

Nov 14, 2019, 2:16am

>104 lorax: You beat me to that one :-)

Nov 16, 2019, 4:40am

I think it is much better than the Google "find the cars"-system which made me very angry, specially on pages (I live in Germany), where I want to order and buy something such as food for our doggies and have to go through pages and pages with cars, traffic lights, traffic signs, sometimes just unrecognisable, and I am definitely no bot, just a human with older eyes.

Nov 19, 2019, 9:24am

This is exactly one of the major problems of CAPTCHAs in general - they're inaccessible to persons with disabilities - those who are blind or have low vision (CAPTCHAs generally don't work with ScreenReaders (an assistive technology) nor do they work for those of us who use speech-to-text/speech recognition software for dexterity impairments. ReCAPTCHAs are better but still very difficult and awkward to work with by persons with disabilities.

Nov 19, 2019, 9:25am

especially if you're color blind and the CAPTCHA designer doesn't take such simple, global standards into account. WCAG 2.0 or 2.1

Nov 20, 2019, 6:19am

>108 GaryMMorin:, >109 GaryMMorin:

Or you have a black and whithe screen only.
As an eReader for example.

Nov 20, 2019, 11:07am

xkcd strikes again...

Nov 20, 2019, 11:21am

Nov 20, 2019, 11:25am

Hah, missed that!

Nov 21, 2019, 6:12am

LT has HAD to introduce CAPTCHAs because of massive attacks. Unlike most other sites, you have choices. You can use the book cover captcha. You can use Google recaptcha (which has an audio option). You can stay signed in. If none of these work for you, what would? I suspect that Tim would be agreeable to making some separate arrangement for those members who can't use the current captchas if he were presented with a concrete proposal. (see >29 timspalding:)

I'm not unsympathetic. I get very frustrated at how hard life is made for those with mobility issues. I know. Life is hard enough without extra humps and steps and rough surfaces and obstacles being put in the way. The cookbook version makes life a lot easier for most of us. If some covers are hard for colour blind people to recognize, then I think you need to point out to the publishers that they are losing a group of customers who can't see titles of books they might otherwise want to buy.

Edited: Jan 20, 5:33am

Are you able to individually exclude books not easily recognized as cookbooks from the check selection? I got this one today that you can't tell is about food unless the author's name rings a bell:

Jan 20, 5:40am

You can (just about!) see the word ‘recipes’ on the cover but it really needs a higher definition image.

Jan 20, 5:49am

>115 defaults: It's a good bet that party is about food. Or at least food related.

Jan 20, 1:47pm

>115 defaults:

Yes, although the system will remove a book that people misguess frequently. So I'd rather just let it work its own way out. At present, you can even get one wrong and still get in.

Jan 21, 9:04am

Also it's cookbooks vs. science fiction and fantasy, right? I might not be sure that that's a cookbook... but I would feel very certain it's not sf!