(July 20, 2012)
Let’s talk about people who do transcription work on Mechanical Turk!
Personally I think hiring, training and employing one virtual assistant via oDesk is the best way to go if you really want regular transcription jobs. If you know how to do this, you can hire a virtual assistant and data entry expert to do transcription for about $1 per hour.
Taking this back to Mechanical Turk:
Apparently, classical transcription jobs pay 90 cents per minute. This doesn’t sound bad on first thought. However, you cannot simply calculate the hourly pay from this information:
Unfortunately, transcription jobs on Mechanical Turk are not paid by the minute or by the hour. That’s what oDesk does!
In fact, with Mechanical Turk a transcriptionist is paid by the amount of recording he has transcribed. 90 cents refer to one minute transcribed audio recording!
This changes everything.
No one is able to transcribe at a speed of someone is speaking. Even if your typing speed is high, you still need additional different transcription supplies or specific software. This all also costs something.
And if your transcription gets any more complicated, for example if it is an interview with speakers having different accents that have to be identified then the time of transcription goes up even further.
The problem with transcription work is that you are paid for amount of minutes transcribed from the audio. Not the amount of minutes you have worked. Even if you are really fast and have a really fast working and typing speed, the optimum performance one could imagine could be a 1:2 ratio of recorded audio time vs. time worked during transcription.
The down sides of transcription jobs on Mechanical Turk:
- You might not find enough different works to fill a whole work day.
- Even if you succeed to find enough work to fill a whole day, in one hour of work without any pause you would be able to transcribe roughly 15 min of tape.
Payments would actually be pretty low under these conditions.
Your work could be very dangerous for your wrists because you could get carpal tunnel or perhaps it can affect your eye sight because you are sitting in front of your computer all day long.
Is a low cost pay for hard work worth it, fair and acceptable in any country of this world? That is the question.
The last danger:
Even if you submit your eight hours of word for four hours of tape to a specific employer and he does not like what you have done, Amazon Mechanical Turk allows the employer to simply reject the finished work if it is not satisfactory.
As a worker, you always risk to work without a pay.
I think that is the biggest danger for a worker on Mechanical Turk.