Has anyone developed or found a workaround for getting past captchas while using a text only webbrowser, such as Links? The only thing that occurred to me would be to download and render the image using an ASCII art program. Any other suggestions would be appreciated, as would a good ASCII art program.

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    The resolution needed to correctly interpret many of today's non-broken captchas would likely more than fill your screen when rendered in ASCII.
    – eleven81
    Jan 11, 2010 at 18:55
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    Sounds like an excuse to build that 9-monitor PC I've always wanted.
    – Phoshi
    Jan 11, 2010 at 19:10
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    For what purpose do you wish to circumvent a captcha ? Something like human recognizion on SO, or download from hosting, or ... ?
    – Rook
    Jan 12, 2010 at 0:28
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    @monotone - Can't wait ! :) "What colour is this text ?" ... you: "uhmm, #FF8080 ?"
    – Rook
    Jan 12, 2010 at 0:47
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    I think you may mean "Captcha" and not "Capatcha" (isn't that a kind of soup?) Jan 12, 2010 at 16:40

3 Answers 3


I think that in text only webbrowser it would be much easier to use "audio" captchas, sometimes described as "for handicap users".



For those who read the question as "As a webmaster, what can I use as a text based alternative to CAPTCHA?" please read my original answer -- however it seems that the OP actually meant "As a user, how can I convert CAPTCHA images to a text representation?".

To answer the later, I'd say that this is not really feasible with ASCII art, unless you were willing to use the entire screen, since you'd need this kind of "resolution". If it's a website that people commonly browse using lynx, then you could contact the webmaster and ask them to solve the problem ;-) -- I was going to suggest wgeting the image and using an ASCII art generator, but then I realised that it'd most likely change each time it's downloaded.

Original answer:

Ask the user a simple math question; what is 1 + 2? This will protect you against generic spam bots (of which there are many), but not targeted attacks (of which there are few). However, ASCII art would be a much cooler solution.

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    I'm pretty sure C. Ross was looking for a solution to viewing other people's web sites using a text-only browser. He can't redesign their sites. :)
    – CarlF
    Jan 12, 2010 at 7:49
  • Aha, hmm, well I believe you. However, he certainly didn't make this clear from my point of view. Perhaps I need more sleep. Jan 12, 2010 at 16:28

Take a look at Practical non-image based CAPTCHA approaches? on Stack Overflow, it has interesting info.

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