Mechanical Turk - Spare Change

This is all about my experience using Amazon Mechanical Turk for a little over a week. This is not meant to be a tutorial, a guide in anyway. I'm just trying to put out my results over my time 'experimenting' with Mechanical Turk.

So what IS Amazon's Mechanical Turk?

The Mechanical Turk was invented in the 18th century as sort of a fake chess game. The idea was you could play against an unreal opponent, just like when you're playing a computer opponent when you're playing chess on your PC. It reminds me of a carnival side show game. "Step right up and try your chess skill against the all-seeing Mechanical Turk". The Mechanical Turk won most of its games, and was eventually exposed as a fraud when people discovered you can hide a tiny chess-master inside the device to move the chess pieces. What a rip off! But we're not here to talk about chess. I'm rubbish at it anyway.

Ok so Amazon's Mechanical Turk is an internet outsourcing website, that allows people, or businesses that need simple jobs done, to outsource the work all over the world through the Mechanical Turk site. These jobs are called "HITS" Human Intelligence Tasks. The HITS need to be outsourced to human workers because there are certain things that computers can't be programmed to do in volume. These HITS need genuine human responses in order for the Requesters to get an effective result. HITS can pay anywhere from 1 cent to 20$. An example of a common HIT would be, "Review the following images, Click on all the human faces you see." I know sounds pretty easy right? Well they are extremely easy for the most part. A hit like that last example would probably pay 1-5 cents. Whoa, lets go to Vegas baby! No not really, you don't want to go into work and throw your bosses coffee in his face just yet...

My Results

So I decided to sign up on the Mechanical Turk site, to try my luck at making a little spare change. Sign up is really simple and only takes about 1 minute. After that I got rolling on some hits. I spent a little over week, making sure not to dedicate no more than an hour to doing HITS. I wanted to see what sort of results I would have, an hour a day. I usually sort my HIT results by pay; Highest by to lowest. I don't really waste my time going after the 1 cent ones. I try to aim for the HITS from .50 cents to the 3$ range. The most effective way of making a few bucks a day I found is by doing surveys on the Mechanical Turk site. You can just type in Surveys in the search bar, sort your search by reward amount. Go down to the 1-2$ range and crank out a couple. Now you will notice a bunch of HITS going for 15$, 10$, 9$ and so on. I try to stay away from the high paying hits because more often than not they are scams. They are usually trying to get personal information, get you to sign up for some service, or just steal your work, with a "fake submit" button. I recommend anyone wanting to try some hits to download Turkopticon. Turkopticon is a plugin for Mozilla, and will give you information about a requester when you hover over with your mouse. It will give you the requester's score, reviews, any complaints workers have against that requester. So I would definitely recommend downloading that to save yourself some headaches, and only choose HITS from requesters with a good score. Sort of like Ebay.

So with minimal effort, and I do mean minimal, I did a few surveys a day, and the occasional sentence rewrite or 300 blog. Trying to avoid all the highpaying scams, while at the same time avoiding the really cheap work. In the course of about 7 days, sometimes skipping a day, I made a little over 20 dollars. One of the ways Amazon will pay you is by depositing your earnings from the Mechanical Turk site, to an Amazon Gift card, so you can spend your earnings to buy gifts, movies, cd's, games, whatever you want. I think that's pretty cool. I think i'll take that 20 dollars and put it towards Black Ops :)

So if you have some spare time on your hands, want to make a few bucks here and there. I would give the Mechanical Turk a try. If you are good at writing, and can spew out a 500 word article like its a bodily function, there is definitley some spare change to be made. I would say good writers could easily make 50 dollars a day on Mechanical Turk. If you're not that great at writing stick to the surveys and easy quick HITS.


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