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There's a third problem: quite a bit of the stuff they present is (almost) uniquely American and presents a recognition challenge in other cultural contexts. That yellow vehicle? Looks nothing like a bus in most other parts of the world. And so the rest of the world gets to learn what an American Bus looks like... Not, I think, what was intended.



Or it tells you to pick out pictures of cars and shows you a pickup truck. Now you have to figure out if people would call that a car or not. How about a delivery truck? A motorcycle?

Or it will ask for pictures of crosswalks, and you have to decide if 3 pixels of a crosswalk in the corner of one of the pictures counts.


If it makes you feel any better, I'm fairly sure the answer to those questions don't count. I know I've gotten some reCAPTCHAs "wrong" and gotten marked as a human. It's picking up on a lot of signals, not just whether or not you're "right". So, the good news is you can relax, and safely rewrite all the questions to "Do I think this is a store front?" or "Do I think this square counts as a crosswalk?" or whatever without loss.


My "favorite" is the one where you have to select the boxes with traffic lights. Does that mean just the actual lights, or the entire structure? More importantly, what does Google's AI think the answer is?


crosswalks are also an american term for pedestrian crossings.


I often get asked to identify store fronts. They are the worst.

The pictures are blurry and positioned at weird angles. There are lots of signs with east-asian letters (I'm not informed enough to guess what kind of alphabet they belong to) and I have no idea wether they are store fronts or not.

Is a sign to a dentist's office a store front? Generally it seems like anything with a sign above some sort of door or window qualifies as a store front.


Came here to say the same thing. It's literally impossible to distinguish a store from any other kind of business in many of those pictures. If Google wants to do behavioral fingerprinting they should just say so instead of pretending to do image recognition. But I guess some people just lie so much that they forget how to tell the truth.


What makes you think any store is not a store front? I realize that’s part of the problem, I’m just wondering why you wouldn’t assume the very literal “it is the front of a store” interpretation.


A commercial building with a sign on it might not be a store. They didn't ask for officefronts or warehousefronts. What about a bank or brokerage? A dental office or urgent-care center? Those can look a lot like storefronts, but whether they're considered such is pretty arbitrary.


I understand where you’re coming from and I’m having difficulty explaining the difference... it mostly comes down to what you consider a store (or a shop or whatever you call it). I know they could localize it more, but I feel like it should be pretty obvious what they’re talking about - a place of business selling good to the general public. Whatever you call that, banks and dentists and warehouses and medical facilities don’t really apply.

So yes, it’s arbitrary, but it’s supposed to be. It’s about your gut feeling as a human because that’s the whole reason they’re showing you any of these images.

If it “looks a lot like” a storefront then you’ve really got the same problem as everyone else in the comments: they’re small, blurry, images and it’s hard to tell what it is. That’s also the whole point: their algorithms can’t tell, so they want a general consensus from users. There are images they know and use as a control, but some percentage of the ones you see they’re legitimately not sure about.


E.g “Spot the fire hydrant” - oh, it’s those things that cops drive over in Hollywood movies. I don’t know if other counties have them too but it seems distinctly American and this capatcha is oddly common


Are you in america or using a vpn that shows as in america?


NZer here. The captures are usually American places with American themes.

I have definitely seen the "fire-hydrant" one, and we don't have fire hydrants (they are underground below well marked covers that are illegal to park on or placed where you can't park).

And coming from a first-world Western country, I have definitely been flummoxed by at least one that was too American for me to decipher. I feel sorry for anyone that doesn't watch American media.


Huh, there's fire hydrant here in Brazil. Although not as common as it was a time ago!


I see that stuff too. Not American.


I am from India, not using VPN. Except for storefronts, everything I get looks like from US-traffic lights, cars, buses (including yellow school buses), cross walks etc.


That hasn't been my experience. Most of the "storefronts" are (from what I can tell) based on Asia. I almost never see English signs. I'm still able to complete these challenges with only a little bit of difficulty.


Because it’s still created in an entirely American context. For example, the word storefront is an Americanism. The more commonly used word in the UK is shopfront, and in other English speaking countries they may just call them shops or stores, without the addition of the word front.


Fourth problem: How vague the instructions are. When I'm asked to click the boxes that contain signs, do I include the poles?


Yeah, this one puzzles me too. Generally, it seems like signs and traffic lights don't include supports, poles, etc.


Totally this, I'm British and am probably more exposed to american culture than other nationalities on average, and yet recaptcha still sometimes leaves me clueless on some americanism, that is when it's not driving me crazy with it's infinite loop. For other nationalities it must be straight up discrimination.

I sometimes wonder if these projects are actually internal astroturfing, someone trying to make people hate Google from the inside, it's so bad it must be intentional right?




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