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Mechanical Turk Guide
Amazon Mturk Guide
Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk is one of the most useful tools out there for making money online. While you won't get rich using the service, the variety of tasks available and the backing of Amazon means you will get paid for working from home without having to worry about scams and spammers.
Mechanical Turk has two categories of members: "Requesters" and "Workers." Requesters post tasks which they pay workers to complete. Once you have signed up for a worker account, you will be able to see a variety of different "hits", the name Mechanical Turk gives to the tasks you can do. The hits can range from everything to filling out academic surveys online for money to categorizing search engine results to translating audio files from Chinese into English. Once you have completed a hit, it gets sent back to the requester, who pays you if you have completed the work according to their specifications.
Sounds easy right! For the most part, it is, though here are a few tips to maximize your earnings, minimize the potential for scam, and make sure you get the most out of Mechanical Turk.
Getting Started with Mechanical Turk
Once you have signed up for account, you'll be able to access the "Dashboard", the listing of all the hits available on Mechanical Turk. Many of these you will not be qualified for as a initial user, as they require you to have a certain percentage approval rating. This illustrates one of the most pivotal things to keep in mind when using Mechanical Turk: your approval rating is extremely important. The best hits will restrict themselves to users who have approval ratings of at least 90% (and often as high as 98%). So you'll need to make sure you do hits correctly in order to quickly boost your approval rating.
To start out, use the search features within the dashboard to find hits for which you qualify. There should be a button at the top center of the page that says "Hits Available to You," this will display all hits for which you qualify. Each hit contains information about the requester, a brief description of the task, and how much you will get paid for each hit you complete.
In order to complete a hit, you must click on it, then "accept" the hit. Once you have completed the hit, hit submit, and the hit will be sent to the requester for approval. Requesters have up to a month to evaluate your hit, once they have approved it, earnings will appear in your account. Once you've signed up for an account and completed your first hit, you're well on your way to earning money with Mechanical Turk!
Tips to Make Money on Mechanical Turk
Use the Search Feature to Find High Paying Hits: The Mechanical Turk interface offers a search tool which allows you to search for hits by reward amount, creation date, etc. These offer a quick way to find the highest paying hits, or hits which were recently created since you last log-in, etc. Be careful with the reward amount tool, it can be deceiving, as.....
If It's Too Good to be True, It Probably is: Mechanical Turk is not a high paying service. You might make a dollar or two for a survey occasionally (for tips on how to find these see the advanced tools section of this Hub), but you generally are not going to get paid a ton of money for Hits. So if someone is offering $25 to "complete an offer" or "submit your opinion!", its probably a scam to get you to give them your email address. Never give a requester your personal information, I only give out my email if its for a reputable survey from an academic service (a lot of business schools and other graduate programs do post surveys, but these are usually very identifiable, as they'll include the schools logos and professors names once you have accepted a hit). Use common sense: I'd love it if I got $20 for completing a poll about Miley Cyrus, but odds are someone's trying to scam you.
Always read a hit before accepting: You won't always be able to tell what is going on, but you should always read the description of the hit before you choose to accept it. A lot of them will include caveats like "must speak Chinese" or something that will disqualify you which can easily be determined simply by reading the description. Similarly,
Whenever Possible, open survey hits in a separate tab before completing: Many surveys (which are often the most lucrative hits) will contain a link that is visible before you accept the hit. You can open this link in another tab and check to make sure the hit is valid and worth completing before you accept the job.
Hits with Thousands of Jobs should be approached cautiously and tested out: Some of the best hits happen when a requester posts a hit with 15,000 individual jobs, say, categorizing search engine results for 5 cents a pop. Many rookie workers salivate at this opportunity, completing hundreds or thousands of hits before making sure that they are completing a hit correctly or that the requester is actually legitimate. Suddenly, you sign in one day to see your approval rating has fallen to 70%, because the requester rejected every single one of your 763 submissions because you neglected to follow a small detail in the instructions (or, their instructions were unclear). So, always complete a few hits when working with a new requester, once they have approved them (which can take as a little as a few hours), you should have a good sense of what they require and whether it is worth diving in for hundreds of results.
Remember Good Requesters: Following from the last pointer, once you have found a requester who does pay regularly and post large jobs, follow them by searching for them by name! Going with requesters who you trust will save you time and reduce the risk of mass rejections immensely.
Looking for Other Ways to Make Money Online?
Feeling comfortable with using Mechanical Turk? Here are some advanced tips to maximize your earnings potential.
Use the search tool to find high-paying hit types: "Survey", "Game" and "Finance" are things to type into the hit search box that will bring up the highest paying hits. Survey is an especially good one as it often brings up jobs from Business Schools or graduate programs which can pay as much as $2 per hit. Games can also be great, as they will often give you hits related to game theory, which can pay you bonuses for successfully completing a task.
Watch Out for Traps and Hidden Instructions: Many hits will include hidden traps to make sure you are actually completing the hits and reading all the relevant material instead of rushing through to make money as fast as possible. This is especially relevant for survey hits, which will often include a question in the middle of the survey which includes a lot of text, buried in which is a sentence that says "if you are actually reading this survey, leave the next question blank." The question will be something simple like "How are you feeling right now?", so if you are not paying attention, you will answer the question, which will automatically disqualify you at the end of the survey. Similarly, many requesters expect you to take a certain amount of time to complete a hit, so if it's a survey that is supposed to take 20 minutes and you finish in 2, they will automatically disqualify you for skimming quickly.
Use Turker Nation: Turker Nation is a web forum dedicated to Mechanical Turk which provides tips for users, reviews of requesters, and general information on making the most of Mechanical Turk. The "requesters hall of fame/hall of shame" thread is a great resource for figuring out which requesters are scammers and which ones offer the highest, most consistent pay-outs. Requesters will also post particularly interesting or valuable hits regularly on Turker Nation.
Don't be afraid to complain about a requester: If a requester has rejected you and you think you were punished unfairly, send them feedback! Sometimes they may have included a confusing instruction or misinterpreted your response and will offer you some sort of bonus payment as compensation. Obviously did not use this tool to badger requesters who rejected you fairly, but there are times when miscommunications do happen.
I hope this is an informative hit for everyone hoping to make money using Mechanical Turk! Feel free to post questions in the comments or message me if you want more tips on using Mechanical Turk, I've been making money on the site for well over a year now and am happy to giving anyone tips and pointers. Happy Turking!
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