As someone who buys upwards of 100 tickets a year on Ticketmaster.com, the bane of my existence are CAPTCHAs. This slick-sounding acronym stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Um, what, you ask? These nearly impossible to decipher images (sample pictured here) are the code you have to crack before purchasing tickets on many major sites to prove that you are not a machine.
While CAPTCHAs are meant to prevent automated robots from sweeping up all the tickets to your favorite sporting event, theater outing or concert, they often have the opposite effect. Some major ticket reselling companies, like Wiseguys Tickets, have pleaded guilty in court for their CAPTCHA-breaking offenses. Instead of the tickets going to us, the good guys, we struggle to decode “Arma Virumque” while robots bypass these squiggly letters and numbers and auto-fill the field nearly instantaneously.
At last, though, there’s salvation for all of us who wake up early, log onto Ticketmaster at the exact on-sale moment and start frantically typing to crack the code, only to be rejected, and rejected, and rejected again (come on, Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” tour can’t be that popular). Ticketmaster announced today that they will start using new technology from a New York start-up that utilizes digital cues to decide if you’re a real person or not. So instead of combating CAPTCHA-fatigue, users will be asked to type in words that make sense, like, “cold water.” And best of all, while the average time needed to solve a Captcha puzzle is 14 seconds according to Ticketmaster, the recent innovation clocks in at a mere seven seconds. That’s only, oh, a mere 46,400 seconds less in my day devoted to getting tickets. Alas!