Yahoo! Mail’s CAPTCHA: Helpful or annoying?

I recently switched over to Yahoo! Mail. I’m enjoying the service, but since Sunday, I’ve noticed they’ve implemented an occasional feature I’m not too happy about so far.

About half the time, after I’ve clicked the Send button on an email message, I’m taken to a CAPTCHA page that I have to pass before Yahoo! will send my email out.

Here’s a screenshot of the Yahoo! Mail CAPTCHA screen taken from earlier today:

Yahoo! Mail CAPTCHA screenshot

Their explanation is as follows:

This step helps prevent spammers from using Yahoo! Mail, and helps to ensure that your email will be delivered.

As they’re a large service- basically a public utility- I understand and appreciate Yahoo!’s desire to cut down on spam, both for itself and for its users. But I wish there were a less invasive way to acomplish such a worthy goal.

Furthermore, there’s one part of their explanation I don’t understand. The preventing spam part- I get that. But what do they mean when they claim that:

This step…helps to ensure that your email will be delivered.

Huh?! Are they saying that, for some unknown and unexplained reason, my mail might not be delivered unless I complete the CAPTCHA step? If this is marketing’s idea of adding a second justification for the CAPTCHA, it’s certainly not a good one- they’re essentially suggesting that their service couldn’t ensure your mail would be delivered before they implemented this step.

Overall, I’m happy to see a large email provider addressing outgoing spam in an apparently meaningful way. But I also hope that Yahoo! plans to evolve this service, either by tuning it to appear less for honest customers, or by making it invisible alltogether. Particularly for those customers paying $20 for the privledge of using Yahoo!

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