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The Essential Guide to Amazon's "Mechanical Turk"

Updated on May 29, 2014

Tips and Tricks to getting the most out of Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk

Mechanical Turk is an online marketplace for "crowdsourcing". This means that "requestors" post tasks online, which people all over the world can complete for payment. Read on, it's a jungle out there.

What is Mechanical Turk?

Mechanical Turk is a place where workers (or "Turkers") complete HITS (Human Intelligence Tasks) for money. An example is to write a description for a video. Most tasks can be completed in 60 minutes or less. Much like Ebay, Amazon creates the platform, and takes their cut. Amazon collects 10% commission based on what Requestors pay to "Turkers". Amazon does not create the HITS, only the platform for others to provide them.

The Good....

Mechanical Turk has work available to everyone 24/7. It is easy to sign up, and earnings can be transferred to a bank account free of charge. Earnings also can be used at Amazon.com immediately after you are paid. There is zero commitment to long term work. You can complete 1 HIT per year or 50 per day.

Mechanical Turk is difficult to cheat. People who "spam" HITS (complete them quickly by typing in random text and choices) will have their work rejected, which will lower their "HIT Approval Rate". The "Hit Approval Rate" works like this. Suppose you complete 100 HITS, 25 are approved and paid, and 75 are rejected, your "Hit Approval Rate" would be 25%. The majority of HITS require a "Hit Approval Rate" of 90%. This is relatively easy to do if you are not a spammer and if you choose your HITS carefully.

There is no limit on your income, and like most things, knowledge and hard work will pay off.

The Bad....

Mechanical Turk does not pay much. You don't have to leave your home, and you can work in your pajamas, but this is not a place to get rich. As a Turker, its tough to find decent HIT's, but more on that below.

The Ugly.

The ugly side of Mechanical Turk is "Click Fraud". "Click Fraud" is paying people to click, vote, or fill out forms to receive information on products. The person or entity providing the hit is some type of affilliate of the target website, and is getting paid by the target site to get legitimate sales leads, not Turkers hankering for 50 cents. Here is an example.

*********************************************************

Hello, and thank you for joining our team and attempting to complete our task. You'll find all instructions below. Don't identify yourself as a secret shopper or mturk user at any point. Thanks and good luck :)

* Click here

* How does that web page look? Is it appealing to the eye? Is there anything you'd like to see improved?

* Submit your information completing the form/signup process and request information from a school.

* How fast did the next page load? Were there any errors? Please comment on your experience on the site. Did the resulting page load quickly? Did you experience any errors? Comment on your experience with the site.

**********************************************************

The reward for clicking on the site and filling out the form is $4.15 Now that may not sound like much to you, but in Mturk dollars that is like 100 bucks. Who would pay $4.15 to get some feedback on how their site loads? Not in this economy pal. I hope I'm wrong, but this is click fraud. There is all kinds of assurances like "never identify yourself as a secret shopper" (wink wink). Right.

Believe me, when you get all kinds of marketing calls from the cable company you requested more information from, they won't be aware of "secret shoppers".

It could be that this is not click fraud, and that the cable company is aware. Perhaps they wouldn't mind paying $4.15 to assault you with sales calls. Either way you lose. For tips on finding GOOD hits, see below. ALWAYS REMEMBER, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

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    • CatholicPostage profile imageAUTHOR

      CatholicPostage 

      5 years ago

      @gannoncannon: Hey Gannoncannon, thanks for the comment. This is what I found on the website, I think if you keep at it you will not have that problem anymore. They limit new workers to limit cheating/spamming.

      "Why is the number of HITs I can do each day limited?

      Amazon Mechanical Turk limits the number of HITs Workers can do on a daily basis based on a number of factors including your past performance and account status. To make sure you can do as many HITs as you want, continue to do good work for all Requesters."

    • profile image

      gannoncannon 

      5 years ago

      i just startd on mturk and already did too many tasks in one day! what time is the daily reset?

    • CatholicPostage profile imageAUTHOR

      CatholicPostage 

      5 years ago

      @BowWowBear: You are welcome! Thanks for the comment.

    • BowWowBear profile image

      BowWowBear 

      5 years ago

      Just got approved, but need more info. Don't want to do hits that wont pay or have any fraud. thanks for the overview!

    • profile image

      cloudmebaby 

      6 years ago

      Great info! Working on mturk is also made more efficient by joining an AMT forum like CloudMeBaby.com.

    • deified profile image

      deified 

      6 years ago

      great lens!! i thought i was the only mturker and squidooer out there. :)

    • profile image

      jeevsud 

      6 years ago

      My experience with Mturk (so far) has been very good. I've been earning $100 a week on a consistent basis for the past 2 months. Good requesters that pay promptly are Amazon Inc. and Dolores Labs.

    • profile image

      HitsWorthTurkingFor 

      6 years ago

      Making a decent amount of money is very difficult on mTurk. I've been working at it for 4 months now, doing about 5 HITs a day and have only made about $300. I know others need this money a lot more than I do, so I created a site that I hope increases their daily income - if just only a little. I rate HITs based upon amount of pay for time spent working on the HIT. If you do any turking, I recommend you take a look at my blog, it may help you make a little bit more money each day: http://hitsworthturkingfor.blogspot.com

    • Lamar Morgan profile image

      Lamar Morgan 

      6 years ago

      How could a person use Mechanical Turk to get folks to post comments to a Squidoo lens or deliver prospects to a landing page?

    • davewashere profile image

      davewashere 

      6 years ago

      Great lens. I've found MTurk to be very frustrating and not very user-friendly. There are just too many spammers and it's difficult to sort through all the junk. It's weird, because most other sites in the Amazon network are very user-friendly, so I don't know why they decided to go with such an archaic sorting system and questionable usability with MTurk.

    • RichardMillner profile image

      RichardMillner 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this information. Great lens.

    • laki2lav profile image

      laki2lav 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for your tips. I have used mturk long time ago but did not like that I could not take money straight to my paypal account (like you can do here on squidoo for example)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I wasn't familiar with Mechanical Turk before reading your lens. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for the info.

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 

      6 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • rainbowruffles profile image

      rainbowruffles 

      7 years ago

      I haven't made much with mechanical turk, maybe about $20.00 in the past year. I usually just get on there and complete some hits when I am interested in buying a book of something off of Amazon. I use the few dollars I make on Mechanical Turk to pay for the book. That's about all the luck I have had with it. Sometimes you'll complete a hit and submit it and it tells you there has been an error. This has happened to me quite a bit and I get pretty frustrated with it.

    • profile image

      workonlinereviewer 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for this guide! I didn't know what the point of the HITs were that you have described as "Click Frauds". That makes sense now! I see a bunch right now claiming they are "Usability Tests". Ugh! Please check out my review at my blog: http://onlineworkauditor.blogspot.com

    • profile image

      teteimathews 

      8 years ago

      @paulpullen: Hi Paulpullen, I really like your new site. Thanks for it. I read about you somewhere.

    • profile image

      paulpullen 

      8 years ago

      Hi, nice lens!

      I've created a service that allows Turkers to receive notifications when their favorite requesters post new HITs:

      TurkAlert.com

      It's free and hopefully useful to those serious about MTurk.

      Thanks for checking it out!

      --Paul

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