Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a neat thing. The idea behind it is to bridge the gap between where automation is and where people would like for it to be. People get paid to do what computers can’t yet do, and requesters get useful work done. But as with all good things, it’s not perfect.
I’ve seen the horror stories. Well, not horror stories. Bad experiences, at least. People go in, spend an hour, make a few dollars, and get scammed on half the jobs they did.
People do it wrong because Amazon has allowed a miserable experience for new users to form. I fault the scammers more than Amazon, but Amazon shares some of the blame for not being more proactive in educating new users.
But it’s all good. Would you guess I’ve been making about $6/hour on Mechanical Turk? Granted, I haven’t tried much. I’ve only submitted about 30 jobs at an average of 50 cents per job. All of them are with highly reviewed requesters.
Did I say reviews? You’re probably wondering what I’m jabbering on about. You see, Amazon didn’t provide a review thing for Mechanical Turk. This means anyone who hasn’t found Turkopticon is flying blind.
And that thing they call search is just miserable. Use the Mechanical Turk subreddit to find new jobs, and check out the forums and other subreddits linked on the sidebar.
A lot of the better jobs need 100+ approved jobs (called hits), but this is easy to reach if you’re using these tools and resources to find jobs. Only half of my 30 jobs have been accepted in the 2 days I’ve been at this, but I have a high degree of confidence that I’ll be paid for my good work because all the requesters have tens to hundreds of good reviews.
I’ve set a target for $5 a day. That’s five $1 jobs (called HITs), ten 50 cent jobs, or some assortment of values. I don’t usually bother with jobs worth less than 50 cents. I was lucky to find these sites early on, so my ratings are high. That means I get all the good, high-paying jobs that have high requirements.
A lot of the jobs seem sketchy, like most of the search and advertising-related tasks. Fortunately for us, universities and businesses love Mechanical Turk for research. You’ll find a lot of interesting surveys that pay well and aren’t hard to do. The only catch is that it takes ten days after your work is accepted by the requester before you see the money in your Amazon Payments account.
Do you have experience with Mechanical Turk? Share it in the comments below.