We've all heard stories about people who are paid to solve CAPTCHAs. Well, through my Mollom work, I recently learned about PixProfit. Using that site, you can earn $1 for every 1,000 image CAPTCHAs that you solve on behalf of spammers. Indeed, according to the site, "You are limited by your typing speed only - you can proceed up to ten pictures per minute. So, your payment can grow up to $3 per hour.". Crazy!

Now look at a comment spam service like Buy Blog Comments that sells 40 blog comments for $9.99, and you'll realize how sick this is and what returns these spammers are looking at. Double crazy!

This is a good example of why a hosted CAPTCHA service, like Mollom, is a better solution than using CAPTCHAs that are generated locally on your website. At Mollom, we examine trends occurring over many websites and we know when certain IPs are solving too many CAPTCHAs. Further, we also use text analysis to determine when CAPTCHAs are needed, making our solution particularly robust.

But, this raises an interesting question. For many people in some countries, $3 per hour is a good salary. What will happen as more of these people come online (sometimes with free laptops)? Will more of these companies spring up overnight? I hope not!

Pixprofit
Buy blog comments

Comments

Anonymous (not verified):

Nitpicking, but the arithmetic is not right. $1 for 1,000 pictures means that to earn $3 per hour you will have to solve 50 pictures per minute, not "ten pictures per minute"

Dave (not verified):

So I e-mailed them telling I was "very" interested, but was worried about the pay rate. Here's their e-mail (and my original e-mail) back to me:

----

Hello!

>>I have a quick question about your service since I'm interested. Your site says I can earn up to $3 per hour, but it also says I can only do 10 pictures a minute. 10 pictures per minute * 60 minutes
>>(in an hour) = 600 pictures in an hour. If 1000 pictures earns me $1, I can only earn 60 cents per hour maximum. Is this correct or what's up?

We're trying to improve captchas number now. Soon it will be better.

Best regards

[email protected] (not verified):

"We're trying to improve captchas number now. Soon it will be better."

Isn't that great? I wonder what it actually means?! And better for whom (can you guess?)!

$3 per hour equates to 3000 per hour, i.e. one CAPTCHA per 1.2 seconds. Even sustaining 1 every 6 seconds for an hourly salary of 60 cents US would be way beyond me :P

I particularly like the bit about "Currently we work with persons that have poor hearing and vision... Our goal is to provide these people with access to web-resources they need."

And a quick look at the potential margin: 1000 solved images earns $1; buying 1000 blog comments costs $240. Sounds like this market needs more competition.

I notice that buybogcomments is regsitered through GoDaddy, and hosted by developerhut DOT com, who have more of the same type of offering. They say 23415 blog comments since Oct 2008 -> revenue of $5600. Enough to live on!

BryanSD (not verified):

Almost forgot to mention...thanks for the post. Buy Blog Comments and comment spam makes this world a scary place for site owners. I'm glad we have Mollom!

Deadprogrammer (not verified):

Dries,

this works both ways: English-reading people for whom $3/hour is a very good rate can help with cleaning up spam through services like Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

One of the weaknesses of Mollom is that it does not contain a service that will let you go over old comments and nodes and flag them as spam. I wrote a little slow crawler module for this purpose, once it's complete I'll contribute it to the community.

Kelly Hair (not verified):

Interesting point about the free laptops & the OLPC program, oh, and agree the $3 USD/hr is a great wage in many countries. If you could automate then that could be a whopping $24/hr. May not sound like much, but then again, half the world lives on <$2/day. Unfathomable...

Keith Smith (not verified):

If I only read the fine print shown in your first screenshot, I might think this was a fine service to provide. After all, helping someone "digitize books and papers" is a fine thing, as is helping "visually and hearing impaired persons wishing to use computers and internet."

One of the worst things here is that this company is providing a CAPTCHA-solving service under the guise of providing services for the public good.

bertboerland (not verified):

And then there are services like:

  • getting paid to vote for on digg
  • making spam youtube movies (subliminal text, stills with porn to get lots of hits, real movi a commercial)
  • even getting paid reading spam mail via a webmail client so ham/spam ratio gets "better" for the spammer.

It's absurd. And nearly so un-human that they fail the turing test by principle. Mol ze!

Usamah (not verified):

Holy crap!

I spent some time exploring the Buy Blog Comments website which has a link to the network's website (yeah, I used rel="nofollow" too :). There, it turned out to be a one-man show business with some jaw-dropping numbers about spam comments "done" and "orders" customers had placed! No wonder why this industry is flourishing!

Dries said: For many people in some countries, $3 per hour is a good salary. What will happen as more of these people come online (sometimes with free laptops)?

Well, I'm afraid this implicitly classify children from India and other people from developing countries as the workers of the new digital slavery! This is absolutely not the case, nor will it be since unethical work values are not tied to the economical disadvantaged. Mollom's world map of spam is a valid proof.

Indian children with free laptops are most probably not going to aid the "rise of the spammers". If anything, they're most probably going to aid the "rise of the Ramanujans".

Cory (not verified):

Not to mention I can never get the CAPTCHA's correct. Mollom & Akismet type services are the way to go.

Although my posts did trigger the spam filter on [email protected] for a couple of days for whatever reason, but not a Drupal.org. Are you using Mollom on one but not the other?

Spammer ;) (not verified):

Thank you for this post!
This is just great !
I have been looking for a great way to make money on the internet :)
and now thanks to you I found it.

Who needs adsense, when you have pixprofit.

Regards,
Jimmy the freaky anti-spammer-cracker

[email protected] (not verified):

I guess I should have some principles myself and inform GoDaddy that I won't do business with them if they continue to do business with the likes of buybogcomments.

Ken Thomas (not verified):

^^ On the above, I'd guess one problem is that we have blacklist/systems for handling email spam, which are fairly mature and impose automated penalties on ISPs such as GoDaddy. We do not have similar systems in place for web page/blog/etc spam.

It is hard for me to imagine an ISP in GoDaddy's "loss leader" position acting responsibly with regards to this issue, without an external motivation. As it is, I regularly encounter clients co-hosted on GoDaddy servers that are blacklisted because of the email activities of others on the server; the threat of client loss from this is low enough. There's no chance a company of their organizational structure is going to be motivated on their own-- they have to be forced.