CAPTCHAnomics

My unhealthy relationship with CAPTCHAs is well-documented. (In addition to those, there is one more post that mentioned CAPTCHAs; the reason why Google's search engine performs so miserably on Google-owned Blogger posts is one of technology's great mysteries.) This article in the Guardian suggests that the spread of cheap computer and Internet to developing nations is going to lead (or already has led) to an explosion of CAPTCHA farms, in which spammers pay to have people fill them out.

Much like gold farming, I'm not really sure how I feel about that. It's hard to come down completely against something that puts money directly in the hands of those who really need it–the people who would agree to work in a CAPTCHA farm are likely to be the people for whom the marginal value of a dollar a day (or less, or more) is the highest. CAPTCHA farming is analogous to call centers, offshore or otherwise, in which people who value their time less than their employers value their own time are paid to sit and spam via the phone.

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