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There are other techniques that do a reasonable job at stemming the flood. The "hidden field" technique still reduces spam by quite a lot.

I wrote about another technique at the end of my own captcha rant: https://inimino.org/~inimino/blog/kill_captcha

The proposed solution would replace captcha entirely, but to my knowledge nobody has tried it.

How about different revocable secret keys to your mailbox given only to those who you wish to contact you

If people have to request to be able to contact you, it is not a public inbox anymore. This is the way most walled gardens work, you have a separate step before you can interact, so it works, but it lacks some of the affordances of the public inbox model of email or blog posts, such as allowing anonymity.

That technique hasn't worked for years. Try setting up a vanilla WordPress installation with the most popular forms plugins. The only anti-spam measure that works is reCaptcha v. 3.

From experience, Akismet works well, so reCaptcha is not the only anti-spam measure that works for WordPress.

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