Ticketmaster dumps hated 'captcha' verification system to boost customer experience


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The Independent Culture

It looks like “dsrific LCDAppr” but computer says “no”. Ticketmaster is to dump the jumble of hard-to-read nonsense words it requires customers to enter in order to prove that they are human.

Captcha, the system which asks users to type in words to prove they are not computer programmes trawling for tickets, has become one of the biggest irritants for fans.

Captcha stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, and was first developed at Carnegie Mellon university in 2000. Google bought the digitisation company from the university and is responsible for the current puzzles.

However as the robot programmes used by touts to trawl the net for tickets have become more sophisticated, the Captcha puzzles too have become more complex, using distorted letters which are harder to decipher. Repeated attempts are often required to satisfy the system.

The world’s largest online ticket retailer said it would now trial a new system, created by New York start-up Solve Media.

Customers will now see common phrases, such as “freezing temperatures” or multiple choice questions such as “which one is a country?”  followed by a drop-down menu of answers including “monster truck,” “puppy” and “Spain.” However some puzzles will be presented in the form of adverts.

The new system uses a combination of digital cues to work out whether a person is real or not and, during trials, halved the amount of time customers took to solve the puzzle and proceed.

Kip Levin, Ticketmaster's executive vice-president of eCommerce, said: “We’re starting to see an uptick in fan satisfaction. We're happy with what we've seen from a security standpoint as well.”

Aaron Young, of user experience consultancy Bunnyfoot, described Captcha as “generally speaking the one of the most hated pieces of user interaction on the web.”