Working for Amazon Mechanical Turk and Making Money Online

Mechanical Turk gets its name from an 18th century chess-playing automaton that toured Europe. Luminaries of the day, including Napoleon and Ben Franklin, played chess with Turk.  A real person hiding in a secret compartment manipulated the Turk.
Mechanical Turk gets its name from an 18th century chess-playing automaton that toured Europe. Luminaries of the day, including Napoleon and Ben Franklin, played chess with Turk. A real person hiding in a secret compartment manipulated the Turk. | Source

My interest was recently piqued by a blog I that I read in the HubPages Learning Center about earning money rating hubs through the Amazon Mechanical Turk program. Now maybe I've been in the Dark Ages about all the ways to earn money on the Internet, but up until 2 weeks ago I had never even heard of the Amazon Mechanical Turk program.

Just the name "mechanical turk" sounded weird to me, and I wasn't sure what I was getting into. But - curious little being that I am - I had to at least check it out, especially when I heard that it was hard to pass the test to be a quality hub rater for HubPages.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I love challenges and this was one that I decided to take on - pass or fail.

This is a sample of a "HIT" in the Amazon Mechanical Turk program. This one involves assigning accurate tags to photos/images and/or pictures.
This is a sample of a "HIT" in the Amazon Mechanical Turk program. This one involves assigning accurate tags to photos/images and/or pictures. | Source
This is a sample web page of what "HITS" look like in the Amazon Mechanical Turk program
This is a sample web page of what "HITS" look like in the Amazon Mechanical Turk program | Source

What is the Amazon Mechanical Turk Program?

In a nutshell, the Amazon Mechanical Turk program is a program that pays humans for tasks that are too smart for computers.

Yes, you heard that right, computers are not that smart after all, because there are some things that it takes plain ole human thinking to work out. These tasks, called "HITS" (Human Intelligence Tasks) are various tasks that software developers and businesses use the Turk program for, like answering short surveys, writing brief summaries, tagging hard to tag images that a computer would have a hard time sorting out - and - also rating hubs for HubPages.

In more technical terms, the program is described as this: "Amazon Mechanical Turk is a web service application program interface (API) that allows developers to integrate human intelligence into remote procedure calls (RPC)"

According to your qualifications as a Turk worker, you can choose from these different tasks (you will not be qualified for all of them when you first start) and you can choose the "HITS" available to you. Some pay a penny, some 5 cents, some up to and over a $1.00 for each task completed

Suffice it to say, you are not going to get rich completing HITS for the Turk program, but there are other benefits however, which I will mention later.

So that's the Amazon Mechanical Turk program in a very brief nutshell: If you work as a qualified Mechanical Turk worker, will get paid to complete tasks (HITS) that require human intelligence (us)

Webpage for Amazon Mechanical Turk

Make money online working from home as an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker
Make money online working from home as an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker | Source

Signing up for the Amazon Mechanical Turk Program

So, the first step to becoming an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker is you have to sign up for it. You can do this here: Sign up to be an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker

It took about a day or less for me to be approved as a worker, and I felt like a little ant that had just been added to an assembly line of little factory workers in the vast web of Internetdom. As a Turk worker, I would get a little glimpse into the human work behind the science of the Internet.

I liked the idea of being "smarter" than a computer by giving real life answers to real life questions. Many of these "tasks" are geared towards those with some writing chops, and/or excellent proof-reading skills.

Sign up to be a hub rater with the Amazon Mechanical Turk program

So after I was approved to be a Turk worker, I was ready to go and jump on that assembly line. I felt like a little kid in a candy store, except I was going to get paid to make choices! So right away I got to work and probably made a whopping $1 the first hour, copying text from business cards.That's OK I thought, I'm just in learning mode, wait till I get really good at this!

When I finally became confident I that I now understood the program a little better, I was ready to sign up to be a hub rater for HubPages (after all, this was the real reason I had even signed up to the Amazon Mechanical Turk program in the first place)

So I signed up to rate hubs and was directed to a take a special qualifications test, rating 20 hubs at a rate of .25 cents per hub with a bonus of $10.00 if I passed the test. I read through the instructions carefully (for those that want to do this, make sure you read and re-read those instructions, because this can make you sink or swim in your test)

I was approved to take the test and dove in. I rated the 20 hubs per the instructions, then waited for the final outcome.

Doncha just love tests? I felt like I was back in school again... waiting to see if I would be deemed worthy to be a qualified "hub-rater".

Exciting stuff.

The benefits of rating hubs for HubPages

After a day, or maybe less, I got the word - I had passed the hub quality rater test! Whoo-hoo - I was worthy!

So now the real fun began and I got to work rating hubs.

That was 2 weeks ago and I have about an 80% rating accuracy right now (you can't drop below 70%) - and I am getting better and better at rating hubs as the days go by. I look for grammar mistakes, sentence structure, supporting media in a hub, the content and substance of a hub, the organization and other various other things that are important in the writing of a hub.

Some of the hubs are creative writing, and they have slightly different rating methods (authors voice, poetry form, etc) As of last night, I was close to $40 in earnings. Not bad for something that I do in my free time while sitting on my couch! Besides a little bit of spending cash, there are other benefits to rating hubs for HubPages through the Amazon Mechanical Turk Program:

  • I am learning to be an even better online writer. By rating others hubs, I see things that I want to emulate and watch for things that I don't want to be doing in my own hubs.
  • I am contributing to the quality of HubPages by helping keep an eye on the quality of the hubs that are being produced by writers here at HP. By being an active participant, I am contributing to HP's continued success and commitment to offering high quality informative hubs, ones that should be featured prominently when they are of high caliber. Hubs with very poor grammar, spun content and abysmal organization will sink to the bottom of the pile, where they rightfully belong.
  • I am "earning while I'm learning". No, I'm not going to get rich doing this, but it's interesting and nice to get paid even just a little for reading and rating!
  • I get to read hubs about everything from how to wrap your horse with a polo wrap to meeting a soul-mate even though you are married, to stories about people like the Scottsdale Boys. My brain is becoming a veritable encyclopedia (not that I necessarily NEED all this knowledge but I do run across some extremely interesting information) I am also uncovering some very good writers and new people that I would like to read more from.

I also rate "hits" from other companies that use Amazon Mechanical Turk for their projects. Some are simple things like copying text from business cards, tagging photos and other tasks.

More reading about the Amazon Mechanical Turk program and how to be a quality hub rater at the HubPages Learning Center.

Poll about the Amazon Mechanical Turk program

Would you consider signing up to be an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker?

  • Yes, definitely
  • No
  • No, this would be a total waste of my time
  • Yes, but I wish it paid more money
  • I'm already a Turk worker and making some decent money
  • I used to be a Turk worker but don't do it anymore
  • I think it's interesting and may look into this
See results without voting

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Comments 20 comments

Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

I publish a hub, then go back and proof it again. Now I'm thinking I should just wait an additional day to hit that publish button. How much weight and how long does that initial rating last, I wonder. This is an interesting hub. I saw one person mention something about turk ratings, but other than that I had no idea.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Gail) I read and proof my hubs several times, and still find mistakes later on sometimes! The real meat of the program is distinguishing really poor and middle of the road hubs from stellar ones. Even some minor grammar mistakes don't make your hub rate really low. To rate really low they have to be below average for several things. The rating system takes many things into consideration - and I think is HP's way to really start weeding out substandard hubs, which used to be a big big problem here.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

I signed up for that a while back, but quickly lost interest. However, I never thought of using it as a learning process. Good hub. I am rating it up, up, up (and interesting)!


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

Hi, Dorsi. I love the picture of the mechanical turk. There used to be a commercial on Australian television that showed a real person inside an ATM, dispensing money. They were promoting a chocolate bar and showed the wrapper emerging where the money should have been. As silly as it sounds, I laughed every time.

It is reassuring to know that there is a person like you keeping track of quality control. I'll be thinking of you every time I see a disappointing hub. "Can't wait for Dorsi to spot this one!" Voted up. :)


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York

The Turk stuff sounds interesting. I wish I had more time. I didn't know HubPages paid for rating Hubs. I've been doing their Hub hopping thing for free. (Some of the stuff is beyond awful, I can't believe what people are passing off as writing). I'm going to look into taking the test for summer break. Thanks for a really useful, informative Hub. Voted up!


bridalletter profile image

bridalletter 3 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

Same as you, I was unaware of the site till this past weekend. I spent today exploring the site, working hits, requesting qualifications, training and testing out different "hits". I took the advice of another hub, only work a few hits in each category. Make sure they are getting approved, then you can safely do more. Reduce your return rate. I want to do the hubpages rating, but a little worried about the testing part, so I appreciate your tips. I do hope the amount I earn increases as the qualification levels increase.

Working all day to make a few bucks isn't helpful enough.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 3 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

I was told that my profile did not fit - I guess it was that I live in the UK (I hope so anyway...or were they kindly telling me I can't spell) Glad you are having fun with it


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Connie Smith) Hi Connie. Nice to "see you" my friend. It is a great learning tool (and make a little money while you are learning too)

@LongTimeMother) Thanks Mother. There are some hubs that might as well have red flags on them saying "promotional, promotional!!"

@bridalletter) I think you will do fine on the test bridal. And I have heard that the higher you get your bonus with HP on rating, it's possible to make $10-$12 an hour. Not bad for working from home.

@CASE) That could very well be the "case" CASE. I know there are some country specifics...I don't know what they are though.


Amadaun profile image

Amadaun 3 years ago

I just got approved! *excited* I've done a couple things on Turk before now, but the Hubpages one is the first one that seems semi-stable.

I'm also happy that this will give me something to do while I'm fighting through writer's block on my hubs.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Amadaun) Congrats!! Yes I like rating the hubs, I get to read a bunch of great (and not always so great) writers work... so happy for you!


Amadaun profile image

Amadaun 3 years ago

I was wondering - have you managed to raise your accuracy score yet? I assume that practice makes perfect. I'm just wondering how much practice it takes to go up a percentage point or two. I'm kind of worried about getting in a rut and not ever getting better.


bridalletter profile image

bridalletter 3 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

I did complete the testing, but failed. I do wish after so many months, they would allow a retake. I felt I did well and truly reviewed the guidelines carefully with each hub in the Hits. Afterwards, I feel I may have scored some too low; based on the overall factors affecting those hubs. As with anything, is it disappointing, but a learning experience. I wish all others great luck in passing and earning the extra income, it is a wonderful opportunity!


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Amadaun) Not yet, in fact my rating actually slipped a couple times. I need to do more research into what substance and mechanics ratings are being used and how they should be applied to hubs.

@bridalletter) I'm sorry, perhaps they will change that in the future. Thanks for stopping by!


AnnaCia profile image

AnnaCia 3 years ago

Add Your Comment…I have been an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker for 3 months. It is a good tool to make some spending money.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

AnnaCia) I agree, although I am getting Amazon gift cards right now for my work, I can use it to get things I need on Amazon. Works for me!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I tried to sign up for this months ago and got denied because I'm in Canada. It states that it is only for people living in the US. I was hoping that they may change it but when I tried again today the same message popped up.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@JustAskSusan) That's too bad Susan, hopefully they change that to include Canada too.


pocono foothills profile image

pocono foothills 2 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

@Dorsi-I thought about doing this awhile ago. I might give it a second thought, as I can always use Amazon gift cards.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 2 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

Thanks for reading Pocono, I didn't continue for HP, I think my rating scores got too low, I was still able to do other tasks but in the long run decided it was just too tedious a way to make a very little amount of money. Works though if you have a lot of extra time on your hands.


Glenda Motsavage profile image

Glenda Motsavage 23 months ago from The Sunshine State

Hi Dorsi. Up until a week ago I never even heard of Mechanical Turk. I became aware of it through a discussion in the HP forum. Checked it out, signed up, and yesterday was my first day doing HITS. It's okay, but you're right... a tedious way to make a VERY little amount of money! I find it difficult to make minimum wage per hour. It's a good boredom-buster, but not much more! Thanks for the informative article.

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