Stopping The Bots: A Different Approach To Verifying Your Humanity Online

If anyone is familiar with online releases of clothes, shoes or concert tickets they know it can be an incredibly frustrating experience. It is almost impossible trying to cop the latest streetwear or get tickets to your favorite performer because of the increasing use of bots.

These past few days were particularly bad with Kith dropping their latest collaboration with Coca-Cola. The site went live at 11AM on Friday and was completely inaccessible because of the massive influx of traffic.

The culprit? None other than the use of bots on their site…

It is an extremely hard problem trying to verify real people online. Even the biggest companies seemingly can't figure out a way to solve the problem. Recently, Adidas announced a new release process to try to combat the bots.

The first use of the system was supposed to be used on Saturday for Pharrell's SolarHu pack, but was abruptly removed in the morning with a note in the app directing people back to their website.

Why can't there be a better system that could actually identify someone as a real person? What if to be verified you had to be registered to vote…

The verification process would work as follows:

  • When checking out you would supply your credit card information just as you normally would.
  • Your name and address would then be cross-referenced with a state's public voter registration to see if you are registered and that your address is up to date.
  • If everything checks out, then you would be verified as a real person and be able to checkout.
  • This verification could also be done beforehand and the website would only be accessible to these verified people.

There are some very interesting benefits to using the voter registration as the source of verification. Right from the start more people would be registered to vote and as a democracy that's great. Also, a person's address for voting would be kept up to date and this is very important with the Supreme Court's latest ruling on purging voting rolls. This process could also be used for dozens of sites and a customer wouldn't have to supply personal information to each of them like a phone number or driver's license (which many people don't have).

Now, there are also some issues with this verification process including the following:

  • People under the age of 18 can't register to vote.
  • Have to be a U.S. citizen (it could potentially work in other countries)
  • Some people don't want to register to vote risking their information being made public
  • States have varying laws on felons being able to vote

Given the issues, it is an interesting approach to verifying someone's humanity online and continuing the fight against the bots.

Don't forget to register to vote.

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