Last couple of posts I’ve been ranting at the prince of crowd-sourcing, Luis Von Ahn, and raving about his plan to replace professional translators with language students.
By providing free language lessons, his new site Duolingo will lure unsuspecting second-language wannabes onto a fun and free language study site. He’ll slip paid translation into their homework where his eager students will do it for the price of a gold star. “The crazy thing about this method is that it works,” he says.
Since the site is now live and oversubscribed, it looks like it’s off to a popular start, although whether the translations are going to be any good remains to be seen. Not to visionary Von Ahn, who says that even language students can do as well as us pro translators. Snap. What a slap across the face.
Injury and insult. It’s not enough he’s trying to roll up my business category. He has to go and injure my self-esteem. Not nice.
It’s personal now. So I quit, Luis. I’m not going to do any more transcription work for you for free. I mean, language students? That’s cruel, dude.
By transcription, I mean reCAPTCHA, the pillar of Von Ahn’s macro-parasitical success. CAPTCHAS are those little typing assignments you see on web forms where you type a bit of difficult-to-read text to prove you aren’t some spam-bot, and submit the form, or whatever. The reCAPTCHA difference is to add an additional word, which you must then transcribe for free, allowing Von Ahn to earn a better margin for his transcription service.
So as a translator, why should I be working for this guy for nothing when he has his sights aimed square at my business? This is all I got for now…
Here’s what a reCAPTCHA looks like:
Two words are always displayed in a reCAPTCHA. In this case, “Paffion” is not distorted, (and also is pretty typical of all the goofy stuff Von Ahn makes us transcribe), so we can tell that it is the transcription assignment. The distorted one, “cojones,” I think it says, that’s the real password. Wait. Nope. It wasn’t “cojones”. OK, once more, and… no. Damn. Here we go… another one… Nope, I’d better pass on that one. Fourth try, about par for the course for me.
Anyway, the distorted word is the one you have to get right. The other one, the transcription term doesn’t even have to be entered. Ignore it. You will get through regardless and you will have not contributed your free labor to the Von Ahn’s macro-parasiticalistic ambitions.
So remember, next time, don’t do your bit. You’ll feel the rush of resistance, all empowered and rightous, thanks to your little mini-sabot. Our little work action, call it, what? I don’t know, Luddite-lite™? Power to the paid translators!