The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 August 2006

The evil that men do

Particularly men who want to live off the efforts of others. I saw this in the new Wired this morning, and while most of the tale was familiar, towards the end it took a turn I never would have — but probably should have — expected. From Charles C. Mann's "Spam + Blogs = Trouble":

Blogger and other blog hosting sites now require users to prove they are not spambots before posting comments by identifying a series of distorted letters and numbers. The protection codes are called Captchas, which stands for "completely automated public Turing tests to tell computers and humans apart." In theory, sploggers' autoposting software can't figure out the distorted images, thus reducing the flow of spam. But Captchas also make commenting harder. "It's a big pain for legitimate users," Blogger's [Jason] Goldman says, "and there are many visually impaired people who can't do it at all." (Google recently introduced an audio-based form.) Nor are Captchas completely effective. Sploggers are believed to be hiring squads of low-paid people to type through the tests. "We're seeing Captchas solved in bursts, which suggests they are working in shifts," Goldman says.

Emphasis added. (Could this account for what appears to be a recent upsurge in "work-from-home" schemes?)

I have been reluctant to get into pay-per-click ads on this site, at least partially because of my reservations about the ultimate viability of the concept: if the system is so easily gamed, how long can it survive? (Besides, if someone is so moved by my purple prose to want to support my efforts, there's always actual linkage, or maybe a few cents routed to my PayPal account.) I'd hate to think the whole structure can come tumbling down because of a few people who insist that their lunch be free.

Posted at 11:38 AM to Blogorrhea , TANSTAAFL