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It's an incredibly effective antispam technique. Metafilter does something similar, charging a $5 lifetime fee at signup. Existing accounts were not charged when it was introduced.

I would like to hear if it is effective because a) the Chrome Webstore is full of spyware[0] and b) its not like spammers can't spend $5 to verify an account

[0] My example search is always 'youtube downloader': https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/youtube%20download...

Its not about spending $5, it's about spending $5 x 10,000. Same reason credit card validations are $1 (which then gets credited back to the card a few days later).

Until just a year or two ago, there was no way to validate a credit card without authorizing a charge to it for a dollar amount. Some backend processing networks still don't support zero-dollar authorizations. The reason every site that needed to validate a credit card charged $1 to it was because that was the only way to know the card presented is real.

This isn't entirely true. You can auth $1 and then never capture it, which will result in no money being charged.

I thought that's what I said, and also what the parent said. I was refuting that the reason sites authorize $1 instead of $0 to validate a card was to stop spam/scammers -- that's a valid reason, but the root reason it was always $1 was because $0 authorizations weren't possible.

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