Monthly Archives: August 2012

More on CAPTCHA Site Support

Over the past few weeks we have begun work on incorporating support for Decaptcher and we have begun to internally test sites using it. These do not yet show up on the supported sites list as they cannot be used by members. In our testing we have come across various issues and have decided to change the way we implement captcha sites into IMAutomator as a result.

The original plan was to funnel requests for solving a captcha directly to the Decaptcher service using the login credentials supplied by the member. In this way we do not handle any funds directly and at first it seemed like the simplest solution. Whilst simple, it is not optimal:

1) It immediately forces all members who wish to take advantage of captcha sites to create an account with Decaptcher. This is not ideal as the whole premise behind IMAutomator is to shield the member from this very need. Also, there is a $10 minimum deposit. This would exclude many members from the outset.

2) It forces us to store your login data and we’d prefer not to store sensitive data unnecessarily.

3) Due to the nature of the submission process, one submission could make several calls to the Decaptcher service and cost the member varying amounts of money. This is the biggest hurdle we have faced and feel it is unnacceptable. Submissions do not work 100% of the time – web sites are slow, they time out, have bad days, have random errors etc. We have a retry mechanism in place which will retry a failed submission several times over a 24 hour period before marking it as failed. If a captcha is involved in that process, depending on what point at which the submission failed, several captcha solves may be required. This is of no concern to the member and you should not be charged for these additional calls.

4) Similarly to the above issue, sometimes the Decaptcher service gets it wrong and this causes the submission to fail. Again, here we can retry it later but the member should not absorb the cost for this.

5) Another cost issue – sometimes our own system is not performing 100%, sometimes the login fails or we have issues with our engine. Obviously we are always taking steps to minimize such issues but there should never be a case where the member is directly charged for something that has not worked. You should only be charged for a successful submission.

6) Not a single captcha submission can be done without the member supplying a Decaptcher account. We’d like to at least give some freebies to our Pro members!

Therefore we have decided to go in a new direction and do all of the captcha submissions with our own Decaptcher account, doing the retries as normal but the member will be able to purchase packages of ‘credits’ to use against these submissions. Pro members will receive a free package each month as part of their existing subscription but may purchase additional credits.

Each credit allows a single link to be submitted to a single captcha site – the PR of the site does not matter. When submitting new links, you will be able to choose precisely what sites you would like to choose, if any and you will know exactly how many credits the submission will use at most. Failed submissions will be refunded – you would only charged for a successful submission and only a single credit regardless of how many attempts was made for it to succeed. For example, if we add 20 new captcha based bookmarking sites and you submit a particular link to half of them, that would cost you 10 credits assuming they all succeed.

We haven’t set the prices in stone yet and at this stage we are not even sure how we are going to incorporate payment into the system as these will be one-off purchases and not a monthly fee. This is a rough ballpark so far:

$5 for 500 submission package ($1 for 100 subs)
$10 for 1,200 submission package ($1 for 120 subs)
$25 for 3,000 submission package ($1 for 140 subs)
$50 for 8,000 submission package ($1 for 160 subs)
$100 for 20,000 submission package ($1 for 200 subs)

We would give Pro members the $10 package of 1200 submissions free every month. This would not carry over from month to month (purchased credits DO carry over) and would be in addition to any credits purchased separately. So what would that get you? It depends on how many sites you select for each link. For example, if you have a really important piece of content you might want to push that out to as many sites as possible. If we had 20 sites and you selected all of them, that $10 package would buy you 60 URL’s. To be clear that’s 60 URL’s x 20 sites = 1,200 total backlinks.

This system will still be entirely optional. For those who choose not to use it, IMAutomator will remain exactly as it is now. We are continuing to add as many totally free sites as we can on an on-going basis. For those who have purchased a credit package or for Pro members who will have one free, the submission form on each tool will have an additional section to allow you to select captcha sites to include.

We’ll have more details available in due course!

Decaptcher Support, and Why We Need To Include It

Decaptcher is a third-party service that allows the remote solving of CAPTCHA images. These images are now found all over the web on submission forms and require the user to type in the text / characters seen in the image. They are specifically designed to prevent automated submissions from robots.

They perform a valuable function – they drastically reduce spam. For example, look on our own site here, on the Contact page we use a CAPTCHA. If we didn’t, somebody could very easily write a script to automatically submit that contact form a million times – and that could have some serious adverse affects on our server!

When it comes to the kinds of sites that we submit to with IMAutomator – Social Bookmark sites, Article & Web Directories etc, these are vulnerable to spam and the website owners need to keep control of what gets submitted. There is submission software out there similar to ours, except that they will create thousands of different accounts at one site and submit the same bookmark to all of them just to try and boost the number of backlinks. Of course, Google is wise to this kind of thing so it doesn’t do much for your SEO, but not everybody knows that and people still use these spammy kinds of systems.

As a result, more and more submission sites are introducing CAPTCHAs into their submission forms which means that we need to change the way we do things with our software to keep up with the times.

IMAutomator has been in operation for over 2 years and in that time we have added HUNDREDS of sites to the system but the number of supported sites in both Bookmark and Article submitters has tended to hover around the 30-50 mark for most of that time. The reason is that sites come and go and when a site dies we remove it and then hopefully, we can add new sites to replace those that die.

However, over the last year or so it has become increasingly difficult to find sites to add to the system because so many of them now require that CAPTCHA image. We started building our own Bookmarking sites instead but we feel that these do not perform as well as more established third-party sites and so it’s not something we particularly wish to continue.

Thus, we are now working on incorporating support for the Decaptcher service which will allow us to start including all those sites (including many high PR ones!) into IMAutomator. Unfortunately the Decaptcher service is not free so members who wish to use it will need to pay for it (it is entirely optional). They currently charge $2.00 for 1000 images.

In the next post I’ll explain the stages in which Decaptcher support will be introduced into IMAutomator, more details on the pricing and exactly how that will be controlled, and more information on how the submission process will work when using Decaptcher.

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