What is interesting that we found out is in actual truth there is relatively few big spamming software sets that are used. I was turned onto figuring out all the 'black hat' techniques by someone in that industry, and my first taste was learning about 'xrumer'. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XRumer)
So basically the software providers crack the various spam-prevention techniques and launch it out to all their software. (forgive basic understanding) When this happens, you'll get an assault of spam. It is true that there are manual capcha breakers (literally people sitting at desks in china/india) but they cost per 1,000 broken capchas. So this is only the really high end stuff. Most of the low brow things you simply have to keep one step ahead of the software and you can really cut down on spam.
For instance when we had that massive wave of spam on NS, it was when we finally were big enough for someone to set up the software to spam it. We thought we were under attack by farms of forced labor 'spam squads' - which can't be beaten by capchas or other easy methods.
However, we added the question of 'name a ski company' on sign up, and blammo. Done.
At another forum that i visit they simply add and remove questions periodically to the registration process that breaks the spam software. Cuts down immensely.
Spam is just one of those wars of the internet. You go back and forth forever.
newschool is a state of mind, not a style of skiing.