human deCAPTCHA service

About 10 years ago, when .NET was put out as a strategy for providing software services over the internet, I jokingly quipped that across the API interface, it’s just a black box, you’ll never know if you have actual humans answering your queries and passing the data back, as long as it’s in the right format! Imagine if “Jeeves” were an actual person answering what you “Ask”ed. Or if some translation tool were actually human-powered. It’d be pretty cool in a horrible way, like a reverse Turing-test. Students of the Humanities may even call it “dehumanizing” but we’re all evil engineers so who cares… hohoho

But guess what, this is an actual industry. Here is an article that shows, to my great amazement, that people have not only taken this concept to heart to solve the real problem (for spammers and hackers) of automated CAPTCHA decoding by low-wage humans, but they’ve even managed to load-balance the whole thing to reduce latency! What … the hell!

We have several big teams and hundreds of active agents solving captchas, all at one time, especially during daytime in India. The backend of this project involves over 45 powerful, expensive servers communicating with the MySpace site to pull the captchas and then queue them up on this site, and then process the results to push back to MySpace all within 20 seconds per captcha.

Sometimes 100 or more agents are waiting at the same time.

Now I’m going to be open-minded here… That’s some entrepreneurial spirit. The reason why 10 years ago I thought this would be a joke was because I didn’t think anybody would put up with this kind of work. Not only was I wrong but now that I think about it, I can’t see how it’s worse than factory work or other kinds of manual labor. In fact, isn’t it better?

Let’s generalize this a little in the way I’ve mentioned in the opening and see if it can’t be applied innovatively on a large scale to other projects. This world needs more jobs.


  1. Anonymous
    June 24th, 2009 | 2:32

    Very well thought out and informative. I’m sure many others enjoy reading this too, but are just a little scared to post – anyway – thanks again!

  2. October 16th, 2009 | 7:06

    It’s always refreshing to read your posts – thanks again

  3. January 20th, 2010 | 8:07

    Hi, this is a great site, and very well thought out and well written.

    Best Regards and Best of Luck

  4. me
    May 19th, 2010 | 1:56

    Found out today that Amazon was doing this for real since long ago, but it didn’t work out.

  5. October 5th, 2010 | 6:04

    It’s a big businness. And IMO, there are big opportunities…

  6. April 16th, 2015 | 5:46

    There is one captcha solver service I found which might be of interest to you, check

  7. December 23rd, 2015 | 23:29

    Alternative OCR image recognition service provider. solving captchas for $0.99 per 1000 captchas.

  8. June 18th, 2016 | 1:17

    The best and the fastest yet the cheapest of all text captcha decoders and solvers in the Internet is

Leave a reply