Loathe it as we do, the captcha goes a long way to preventing websites from being inundated with spam comments produced by nefarious software. However, there’s room for improvement, and rather than tasking a user with a series of random words which must be entered in order to be allowed to comment on a website, the Civil Rights Captcha employs an empathy test to measure whether you pass muster.

The Civil Rights Captcha is the brainchild of Civil Rights Defenders, a Sweden-based international human rights organization. The organization states that it has created the new captcha in order to provide a simpler and more effective method of keeping websites spam-free, in addition to drawing attention to the importance of human rights.

The captcha works by presenting the user with a question which has three possible answers, only one of which is deemed correct by the software. An example given is as follows:

"The Minister for Human Rights in Montenegro thinks that the existence of homosexuals in Montenegro is bad news. How does that make you feel?"

In this case, one could select “Fearful," “Sublime," or “Very Happy," but only the answer thought by the captcha’s developers as being suitably empathetic will allow the user to proceed – a move which could be interpreted as heavy-handed, as it essentially forces a viewpoint, however just, on the user.

Indeed, given the subject nature of some of the questions, they are certain to elicit strong feelings in many users, and perhaps this will provide some food for thought on topics which can be uncomfortable to consider.

The Human Rights Captcha website contains instructions on how to implement the captcha using PHP or an API, and the organization asserts that the software will continue to be maintained and developed for as long as it should prove popular.