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Asirra: Saving Animals and Eye Strain

Microsoft Research has rolled out a truly wonderful CAPTCHA-alternative called Asirra. Instead of transcribing illegibly distorted “words” to prove to the internet that you’re human, Asirra has you identify pictures of cats and dogs. And not just any random critters, but folks up for adoption from PetFinder.com, with an “Adopt Me” link under each one.

The main hero here seems to be developer John Douceur, who’s been vegan for 17 years, and clearly loves his cats. While presumably owned by Microsoft, Asirra is freely available to use on your own website. If we ever need captcha-like capabilities on SuperVegan, I bet we’ll be using Asirra!

Right now, you may encounter animals who live far away from you or are even already adopted, but the developers are working on it. From the FAQ: “Asirra is currently in beta-testing. The production version will do geolocation based on client IP address, showing users pets that are nearby … The production version will initially show only pets that are actively looking for homes.”

This project is totally brilliant. Congratulations to John, his fellow developers Jeremy Elson, Jon Howell, and PetFinder.com’s Jared Saul!

(Discovered via Jack Shepherd’s “PETA Files,” which is a surprisingly good blog, as long as you ignore the inevitable posts about PETA itself.)

Update: We’re now using Asirra for new account registrations on SuperVegan. But please don’t set up bogus accounts just to ogle the cuties!

3 Comments

  1. Comment by

    funeralpaty

    on #

    please don’t spread the anti-peta propaganda. any organization helping animals deserves respect.

  2. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Don’t worry, Paty. When I wanna disrespect, it’s a lot louder than that. And when I wanna propagandize, it’ll be so stealth you don’t even notice it.

  3. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Wow. Microsoft actually did something cool! I’ll have to remember to curse Bill Gates slightly less vehemently next time my computer crashes.

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