Google Image Labeler – Potentially Pure Evil

I can’t help but think Google Image Labeler is pure evil.

You’ll be randomly paired with a partner who’s online and using the feature. Over a 90-second period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see. When your label matches your partner’s label, you’ll earn some points and move on to the next image until time runs out. After time expires, you can explore the images you’ve seen and the websites where those images were found. And we’ll show you the points you’ve earned throughout the session.

Great idea guys. Take a few hundred thousand people each donating 90 seconds of their time and then you don’t have to pay them. Then you can turn around and take all that hard work and make cash hand over fist by improving your search results.

The sad thing is that plenty of people will line up to donate their labor to put more money in Google’s bank account.

Why would I want to do this?

Just an interest in helping Google improve the relevance of image search results for users like yourself. Although you do not have to log in to your Google account to help, logging in will allow you to keep track of your points. You can also choose to provide a nickname, or you can remain anonymous.

So I help you guys improve your image search and you pay me the equivalent of virtual peanuts. I’ll get right on that…

Update: Back in the day Google News used to say “no humans were injured in the production of this website” (or words to at extent). I always really admired that for some reason and it has stuck in the back of my head for years now.

It seems Google has decided to recant on their “no humans shall be harmed” philosophy.

I think they should change the tagline of Google Image Labeler to “numerous humans were harmed in the making of this site”.


  1. Anonymous

    How exactly are the users harmed?

    If they enjoy playing the game, that’s their payment.

    If they want Google’s image search to be better for everyone, that’s their payment.

    Google is completely upfront about why they want people to play. So, what exactly is the problem?

  2. One could imagine that some good might come from letting Google make people suspicious of those who speak the truth. But the only one whose imagination is vivid enough is Google. Google’s arguments would be a lot more effective if they were at least accurate or intelligent, not just a load of bull for the sake of being controversial. Let Google’s narrow-minded, incompetent litanies stand as evidence that the Pyrrhonism “debate” is not a debate. It is a harangue, a politically motivated, brilliantly publicized, uncontrollable attack on progressive ideas.






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