Ambrose Li

Captchas should be outlawed

Today I discovered, indirectly through Penguin Random House Canada, a job search site called Eluta. Today is also the last day I’ll ever use the site.

Why? Because they use captchas, and by this alone they’ve proven themselves to be not worth anyone’s time.

I was looking through their search results to a query for a junior position (“only” 16 pages of results should be manageable) when they unceremonially presented me with a captcha.

Their excuse? The usual one “unusual traffic” blah blah blah. I was just clicking through pages and pages of irrelevant senior jobs.

Just like Google their results are garbage and they blame the user because the possibility that their algorithm is wrong has never even crossed their minds.

So what happened after I clicked the captcha?

They sent me back to page 1.

The captcha was bad enough; sending people to page 1 is completely unacceptable. Before my 16-page query I did an earlier query that resulted in over 160 pages of results; giving people a captcha is already an insult‍[Note 1], sending people back to page 1 is telling people to never use your site.

Captchas need to be outlawed. They are based on invalid assumptions,‍[Note 2] and to embrace these invalid assumptions shows that you are arrogant. It shows that you think you know it all and you don’t care about accessibility.

Captchas need to be outlawed in Ontario for AODA violations.


  1. Giving people a captcha is always an insult, because it is tantamount to accusing people of being not human.
  2. No one knows how these algorithms work, but Eluta (and Google) shows that simply using the site often constitutes “unusual traffic”, especially if the quality of their results are low. They also rely on the idea of one IP equalling one user (never been valid even 30 years ago, and we’ve officially run out of IP addresses a decade ago so it’s now even more invalid than ever) and also the invalid idea of geolocation (anyone who’s ever used Fedex Office’s wifi when they still existed knows this).