Tips And Experiences with Amazon's Mechanical Turk Service
(Francis’ Full-time Virtual Assistant)
Some years ago, I signed-up for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk just trying it out to get some extra income while I am just browsing on the internet.
Mechanical Turk call their job/task HITs that mean “Human Intelligence Tasks”. These are tasks that computers are unable to do and that require human intelligence.
I was caught up with the promising shiny object called no attachment, no requirement and fast money. It sounds so cool and easy, right?
So, after I finished signing up, I have to wait for 48 hours of validation since there are too many people who had their way ahead of me. By the way, I am from the Philippines and this means they also need time to run some background check and some sort.
After 48 hours…
I am officially registered and can start working on some HITs. I noticed that most of the HITs that I am allowed to get are less than $0.05? Then I told myself “what the heck” this kind of job is? I scrolled down looking for some pot of gold…scrolling until my index finger got tired of clicking and never had I seen a pot of gold.
So, I decided to take my chances with $0.03 – $0.05. My first HIT was about geographical sites (sounds complicated). I was given a list of places and had to search for it on the Google map that is plain white and black.
Did I say “sounds complicated”? Indeed. Before Google Map became a super intelligent map, human had gone through many pain in search for the needle in a haystack just to make it the super intelligent as it is now today. And take note, its offer is $0.05 per place encoded and it takes 30 minutes to an hour to find the street or city.
After that HIT, I took some time off being a HIT maker. Weeks after I took some time, I came back to make some HITs again. I started with two surveys and finished them less than 5 minutes each and next was writing some random articles.
Assuming I got $0.26 from two surveys and two articles in an hour.. But, what’s the catch? I was denied of one article so I got $0.18.
- How do I know that the requester will not use my article?
- Is it worth an hour joggling my brains out and in the end denied of a $0.08?
I can’t complain any further since there is no employee and employer contract. They can deny anytime they want and the worker can’t do anything about it. So, I find this kind of service unfair. That’s why I decided to quit and never come back.
I would like to share some tips or you can also call it tricks to achieve your goals with MTurk venture, please read the following and follow them by heart:
- Search for good paying HITs
- Don’t bother yourself with 1 cent
- Go for Survey HITs
- Beware of scammers
These are the most interesting tips that I can share to all HITs maker and future HIT maker (watch out for scammers).
(April 30, 2014)
One of the most popular pages on this website is one where I explain step by step how employers from outside of the US can use Mechanical Turk.
NOTE: This article relates only to employers who want to spend money to hire other Mechanical Turkers to do gigs for them. The article does not relate to assistants who are looking to earn money on the Mechanical Turk while being based outside of the US.
Since I receive many contact requests via our Contact form or our Facebook page. I want to get the word out there via this blog post that we haven’t found a solution or a workaround for virtual assistants looking to use Mechanical Turk.
I actually did a trial study with my virtual assistant and ask him to try his best to get accepted on this platform. Essentially, it failed. Here is the Email my virtual assistant received from Mechanical Turk when he tried to open an account from Pakistan.
For all assistants looking for earning money possibilities on the internet, Mechanical Turk is not one of them if you’re not based on the US. At least not from the amount of information I have at my proposal right now. Until we have figured out a better solution, I’ll ask you to post follow up questions into the comments.
Comments for No Real Solution for Virtual Assistants From Outside Of the US Who Want To Earn Money Using Mechanical Turk
|May 14, 2014||What would help you most?
by: FrancisA visitor asked me to create an account for him and even proposed to pay me for it.
Do you need an account – specifically – on Mechanical Turk that badly…?
Even if you would tell me that you’d pay me for an account, I do not know a way to provide you one (yet). And if I did, that would be a trick that could only work so far until MT figures it out and you lose your open payments…
Tell you what – would you be interested in my team researching an alternative crowd sourcing platform for earning money that can be used worldwide?
I could make an article about that subject.
What other idea/support could we give you if you simply could not find a way to use MT for working online?
Please help us help you, and leave a comment with your suggestion below.
(August 28, 2012)
The “Turk” is a great tool to get cheap articles if it’s only about the personal opinion of a requester. For example, you can ask for a personal story from his last party or from his last vacation.
For this, I have made the experience that using Amazon Mechanical Turk works great.
You can get a 300 word article for just 50 cents there. No problem.
But that’s only because the writer does not have to research anything. He can simply write about his day and get paid for it.
However, be sure that you don’t get banned from Amazon Mechanical Turk for breaking their rules.
Their terms of service state that you cannot directly promote any website or business nor cannot ask the requester to sign up for anything.
Also you shouldn’t ask for any information that can identify your requester over a HIT.
If you ask for a personal story and it’s important for you that you get the name and the location from the poster, formulate the questions like this in order not to get banned from Amazon Mechanical Turk:
“For your article I need the name of an author and a location where the author comes from. This information does not have to be your own.”
I have made good experiences using this little addition that the information does not have to be his own to prevent getting banned from Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Carefully reading their terms of service is very important if you want to use the Turk long-term. If you get banned once, it will be very hard or impossible to get back in.
So stay on their good side.
Anything to add?
Did you have any experience or know anyone banned from this service?
Let us know in the comments.
Comments for Article Writing HITs That Will Get You Banned From Amazon Mechanical Turk
|Apr 12, 2013||New in business
by: WebsideNoviceThanks for all those little hints, they really help a great deal!I’m glad I don’t have to make every mistake on my own. 😉
|Apr 12, 2013||Glad to help 🙂
by: FrancisEveryone starts at some point. And there is more than one topic where I’m still a complete newbie myself.But if you can use the Turk effectively, I believe it is a very useful and effective tool for fast content production!
|Jul 08, 2014||Wanted: writer
by: JohnThis is one of the reasons that workers of MTurk loved—no attachment with any of the requesters. They can do their thing and so is on the other end. But, only it’s a win-lose situation. This is actually a nice piece of information; it can help newbies who wants to try their luck with MTurk’s crowd sourcing services.
(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.
Comments for Transcription Jobs on Mechanical Turk are Inhuman?
by Bobbie Joe Kinder
(United States, Salt Lake City, Utah)
I go on Mechanical Turk because of the money. If I can find the time to make a little extra it can help me purchase some things. My husband has an extremely big family with a lot of little kids so we have to buy birthday presents every month for them and the twenty here and there every month adds up fast.
So if I do these things when I get free time I eventually even out with 20 or I can use my credits to buy them a gift from amazon, which is very helpful! I haven’t really come across any funny HITs, but what is interesting about one of the HITs I did do was that it was a whole bunch of questions about relationships and then there was one or two questions on a different subject.
The survey asked me what I thought it was about and I said it was about the specific situations that were questioned about relationships when it was actually about the couple questions that they threw into the mix. I guess it was there way of getting a more accurate submission of results instead of someone trying to throw the questions and ruin the study.
Not really super interesting, but it was really cool. I have never tried to stay in touch with a requester that was good. I generally do searches and stick to the people that pay the most for the least amount of time in a survey or in paper writing or something. It is just easier to concentrate if there are shorter studies so I don’t get bored.
I really don’t know how to stay in contact with a requester either unless there was a save button or something I guess. I think that the worst one I ever had was where I had to write in a rating of what a certain vacation site offered for 500 words. I wrote and wrote and then they said it wasn’t what they were looking for and didn’t pay me.
I know I had put everything they needed in it and I spent hours on those stupid things so I was pretty irritated when I was denied. Not to mention that they denied me on seven of them so it dropped my rating on here and made me unqualified for some other good stuff. That was irritating.
The ones I do like have to have a percent finished on the bottom because I am impatient and I like to know how much longer I have to finish something, I also like the political ones or the ones that ask if you rate certain people because of their looks.
I wish there was a way at the end of the study you could give them your MTurk number or your email and they can send you your results just so you could see if you were with or against their study.
There were a couple of studies that I participated in that said that they were quick and then 45 min later I was still taking them. A few of them I returned because they just got to be ridiculous after a while. I think that when I do normal HITs I can make anywhere between $0.50-$2 per hour give or take.
Really depends on the time and how many I am able to find or do. Sometimes I go on a streak where everyone I click on seems to be broken or unavailable or I have already completed it.
I don’t look for freelance work because I didn’t know I could. I should probably do that because it would be nice to get paid a little more than what I am doing now. Not really sure where to start looking for that job though.
Comments for Talking about some of my completed HITs on MT
by David Clark
(Dry Ridge, Kentucky)
I am motivated to perform work on Amazon Mechanical Turk strictly for financial reasons. I use the money earned from completing HITs to help amortize some long standing credit card debt that my family has accrued.
I also am the primary caretaker of a one-year old child, so having a typical part-time job does not make sense, as the increased child care costs would offset any time spent working. Amazon Mechanical Turk is a way I can earn money throughout the days I am taking care of my son while not diverting too much attention away from him.
I have stayed in touch with one requestor after receiving a $25 bonus for locating an obscure video regarding an engineering company. My “regular” job involves researching and data mining in the industrial and manufacturing sectors for a private company.
The requestor’s main company also utilizes this data, so I contacted the requestor in the hopes that our mutual interests would lead to further engagement. I have not heard back from the requestor yet, but the exchange of contact information was pleasant.
I stick to using Amazon Mechanical Turk rather than seeking work with a regular outsourcing firm due to the fact that I enjoy the freedom of choosing when and how much to work without fear of being dropped from a service if I choose to decline work.
As I mentioned previously, I primarily perform HITs on days when I am also caring for my one year old son. I may perform a good number of HITs on those days, but then go a week without even logging in to Mechanical Turk due to time constraints from my primary job and other responsibilities and commitments.
Regular outsourcing firms often do not appreciate periods of inactivity, and I would run the risk of being dropped or removed from a provider’s list of available workers.