Monday, January 19, 2009

Captcha = Slave Labor

Sometimes I feel like a real grinch, but this is just something to consider....

I often see online discussions where it is suggested that people shouldn't work for free or very low wages. The basic idea being that working for free is under-valuing yourself, and lower the rates for other workers.

The problem is that a lot of hard work is done for social capital. Housework, parenting, charity, hobbies, clubs etc etc. Tasks are done for non-monetary compensation. However there is still a

This is where the grinch part comes in.

CAPTCHA is a system that makes you type a word to make sure you are a person. Anyone who comments on blogs has come across this verification process. And you know what? Its a pain in the ass. A lot of them don't work too well and make commenting more difficult and occasionally impossible. But never mind. Blocking spam helps a site provide content to me--so that's okay with me.

reCAPTCHA adds another word to "improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher." So, it adds a word that is hard to see, for no benefit to the user whatsoever. I am not being compensated and it is making the CAPTCHA harder, slower and more annoying. So if as a blog host or user I am supporting reCAPTCHA it is presumably for social capital.

Do I support the digitisation of these books? I don't know, no one asked me. Is It a charity? Are the books being made public domain? Are other people paid for farming this job out to me and the other cyber-proles?

The reCAPTCHA website states the two places where materials are sourced but that is all. They do not say whether the digital material produced is for public use or charitable purposes. No need to explain there things to the "help", it seems?

CNET crows: "Reusing your 'wasted' time online". The Grinchsays: wasting my useful time online. Please guys, don't make visual verification harder than it needs to be unless it is clearly and explicitly for the greater good.

It is for ME to decide if my time is being "wasted", rather than someone else who is taking it for their own purposes. And I have to assume for the purposes of making them money and getting them the social capital of admiration and acclaim.

Because it seems everyone loves them for stealing away our time for their benefit...

...everyone except the grinch.


MorgansMummy said...

I HATE word verification lol. Not so much the ones on here because I can read them, but the ones that are all warpped. I cant tell what it is! I have tried using the visual disabled button but I cant even make out the letters said!
Im with you, dont make it harder and more time consuming.

Sadie said...

You're so right. Making it harder is pointless. A 'bot' wouldn't be able to do the regular verification, so why make it all blurry? It makes no sense...

Karen said...

It is so frustrating to have to type in captchas that cannot be read. I just about give up leaving a comment.