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A Review of Amazon Mechanical Turk (mturk) - You Can Make Money

Updated on April 29, 2013

Mechanical Turk - At a Glance

Name of service:
Amazon Mechanical Turk
Type(s) of work:
Varied (see description)
Payment type:
Amazon Payments (like PayPal, can be transferred to bank, used at Amazon, or put on Amazon gift cards.
Payment schedule:
4 times a day (see description)
Minimum payout:
$10.00
Friend bonuses:
No
Software requirements:
None (see description)
Overall rating:
3 stars out of 5
Site Link:
www.mturk.com (no affiliate link)

Important Update at Bottom

This hub has now become my most popular, and in addition has a very high google ranking for certain search terms. I am proud of these accomplishments, but I need your help. Leave a comment telling me what information you would like to see here, and I will add it. My goal is to listen to my audience and have my hubs a go to source for information in Mechanical Turk. For now, if you would, after reading this, also check out these:

Important article:

Tips For Making the Most on Mechanical Turk!

Overview:

Many people think Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a scam. It is not. I have been on mturk for about 6 months and made about $1200 dollars. Granted I have spent quite a bit of time doing so, but it does pay. That said, anyone can request work on mechanical turk, and some of those people are scammers. If you avoid those you can do well. Read my tips for mechanical turk hub to learn how!

Signup process review:

I have been on Mechanical Turk for about 6 months now, so I cannot easily review the signup process. I do remember that it requires a valid email address, and uses single sign on with Amazon Payments, so if you have an Amazon Payments account already, it may be easier. If you live in the United States, you will have to provide your SSN, as they have to report your earnings to the IRS, and send you a 1099. Since it is a major company like Amazon, I was not concerned with identity theft, and have had no problems since with spam or or ID theft.

Description and review:

Amazon set up AMT years ago, as sort of an experiment at breaking up small tasks that computers are not very good at and farming them out to workers for small amounts of money. One thing that Amazon uses it for is to hunt down miscategorized items. The system is open to anyone to become a requester, and the requester puts money in an account with Amazon, to be paid out when completed work is approved. Each individual job is called a HIT, or Human Intelligence Task.

The types of HITs vary dramatically, as does the payment for each one. There are HITs for categorizing, text or audio transcription, ranking web searches, writing small articles, academic research surveys and much more. Requesters (the people providing HITs), can choose to require qualifications for their work as well, which could necessitate a test, or certain demographic or statistical measures to be met. One thing that is important is AMT tracks the percentage of your completed HITs that have been rejected (yes work can be rejected, more on that later). That percentage needs to be high to qualify for the more lucrative work, and it is easy to mess it up early when you have only completed a small number of HITs, so be very careful of this.

This is from my account details.  I have only been doing academic surveys this last month, and that only a little bit of the time, and you can see that I was still making some money.  Not bad for just sitting at the computer messing around.
This is from my account details. I have only been doing academic surveys this last month, and that only a little bit of the time, and you can see that I was still making some money. Not bad for just sitting at the computer messing around.

If you are wary for scammers and low paying requesters, there is money to be made here. Unfortunately, Amazon takes their cut of all the money getting paid (from the requesters end, not the workers), but does not really moderate what is going on. There are policies Amazon has in place, and a mechanism to report scammers, but they consistently pop up. For instance you might see a HIT that offers $50.00 for requesting a credit report. That is likely a scam, they will get an affiliate payment for getting you to fill out the information (and possibly even steal your ID), and then reject your work. As in many things, if it appears too good to be true, it probably is.

There is also quite a bit of low paying grunt work there too. Some may be good for doing while not paying much mind to it, but when the equivalent hourly rate is $3.00 or less, I tend to refuse to do it. Unfortunately, others do not, and it drives the average pay rates down. At first however, many are stuck doing just those types of tasks. Amazon imposes a 100 HIT a day limit for the first week or so after signing up, and many requesters require that you have completed 100 or more HITS before being allowed to do their work.

There is no special software required. However, I do many academic surveys, and for those and some other HITs, they may require a specific browser (usually Firefox or Chrome), and add-ons like flash, and java. If a HIT asks you to download software it is in violation of Amazons terms of service and may be a scammer. I have run into legitimate academic surveys that required software for certain tasks, but that is the exception, not the rule.

Have you tried Mechanical Turk?

See results

Requesters can set up an auto-approve time limit for their work, so that if they fail to approve or reject tasks, it will automatically approve after a set time. Regardless, when a task is approved, it will show in your dashboard, and four times a day, the total amount of all newly approved HITs gets transferred into your Amazon Payments account. From there, you can request Amazon gift cards, or just like PayPal, tie the account to your bank account and transfer funds to your bank. You must have a minimum of $10.00 to transfer. I choose this latter option, and it typically takes 2-3 days for the money to arrive in my bank account, and I have never had an issue with it.

If AMT sounds like something that would interest you, by all means go and check it out. I would also recommend a great forum for AMT workers, www.turkernation.com. This site has areas for many of the main requesters, and can allow you to find good, well paying work. To prevent spammers from ruining the site, when you first join, not all the forums are available to you. You have to be a member for a certain amount of time and make an unspecified number of posts first. If you behave, read the rules and adhere to them, you will find it to be an amazing resource for finding work on AMT. There are many people on the forum who make their living with AMT.

As a side note, AMT has no affiliate program or bonuses for signing up others, so I make nothing from you clicking on the link here to AMT. If I do a review of a site that does, I will inform you and let you make the decision as to whether to use the affiliate link or not.

I have written an article on mturk tips, check it out and improve your income!

Pros:

  • Lots of different types of work.
  • Approved payments are guaranteed and painless.
  • With the right skills and patience, decent wages can be had here.

Cons:

  • Hard to find good work.
  • Lots of low paying requesters.
  • Some scams to look out for that Amazon does not police well enough.
  • A bit of a learning curve to find your way around and what HITs work for you.

UPDATE:


Due to many events in my life I have not been able to devote much time to Mechanical Turk. There is however important news. For quite a long time there have been workers that have been given "Masters" qualifications from Amazon. Amazon does not make public the criteria they use in determining this qualification. (Actually there are several Masters, for photo, categorization, etc., but that is beside the point.)

The point is there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how they hand out this qualification. It was not an issue before as most requesters did not make having a Masters qualification a requirement. Now however, Amazon has made that requirement the default for new work posted to Mechanical Turk. What is worse, they made the option hidden, so that many requesters do not even know that it is set.

This has had the effect of radically lowering the amount of work available for people who do not have the "Masters" qualification, and there is no way of finding out how to gain that qualification as Amazon hands them out based on some mysterious criteria. According to many forum posts I have read, there are workers with bad stats that have received the qualification. Most likely it is based in some way on work that Amazon themselves post, which makes up a very small percentage of the work posted, making it unlikely to receive that qualification.

Sorry to say, but while there is work available there, it seemingly continues to go downhill. You may have better luck building up reputation and and clientele on oDesk or eLance.

Happy turking!

Comments

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    • profile image

      Johnf672 2 years ago

      Thanks so much for sharing this excellent info! I'm seeking forward to see much more posts! afffaeeckkab

    • profile image

      James 3 years ago

      I've been unable to get any monty out of Amazon. I patiently waited my 10 days and have over $50 (which at mturk slave wages is probably about 100 hours of work) and cannot get my money. This is a major SCAM.

    • BradTheGeek profile image
      Author

      BradTheGeek 3 years ago

      Dressage, I really could not say. I have not turked in some time. I am too busy with a full time job and a Retail Arbitrage business.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      This system is appearing to be getting a bad reputation as they are declining overseas workers altogether, I am from Canada and was declined. It seems to be due to verification issues, which sites like Paypal do not seem to have. Also they are declining US citizens living overseas, I suspect the Revenue agencies are behind this, but Amazon are saying nothing. Do you have any idea what is really going on here?

    • charlie cheesman profile image

      charlie cheesman 3 years ago from England

      Cheers Brad i was not sure about mturk. I am off travelling soon and wanted to find something to make a little while away. As well as hubpages , cheers

    • BradTheGeek profile image
      Author

      BradTheGeek 4 years ago

      @Brea, I am sorry to hear that. While I cannot answer why they did that, I know that Amazon pretty much ignores workers on mturk, so it can be very hard to get any response. If your money was in amazon payments, you may be able to threaten a civil or criminal action if they cannot disclose why they closed your account. I am not a lawyer, but that is the direction I would be tempted to head.

      @Rebecca, I wish you luck! There is wirk there, much of it low paying, but you can make some money in your spare time.

    • profile image

      Rebecca Jimenez 4 years ago

      Hello Brad..

      Thank you for the tips.. I have been a little skepticle about signing up with them because of all the different reviews that I've read.

    • profile image

      Brea Vee 4 years ago

      I have worked on MTurk site and have something to say that is not good. I built up a good amount of money and suddenly my account was suspended and I was not allowed in my account to get my money. Basically I have been ripped off. They suspend you and take away access to all the money you earned. Everything I did that I was waiting for payment for is gone too. No reason given, no answers to my emails as to why. I even called and can get nowhere with getting access back. So Beware.

    • BradTheGeek profile image
      Author

      BradTheGeek 5 years ago

      The only mechanical turk forum I belong to is Turker Nation. See my mturk tips page for more info. I have found one other forum, but it did not have the amount of members, or level of community. It did not have requesters posting to help workers, and it had many people posting ways to try to script, automate, and game the system, which makes things worse for all workers. I won't even mention its name here.

    • CloudMeBaby profile image

      CloudMeBaby 5 years ago from On The Web

      Do you belong to any other mechanical turk forums?