Are You a Mechanical Turk Worker?

Are you a mechanical turk worker? About a year ago I started fiddling around on http://www.mturk.com because it was novel and something new for me to learn. I looked up what a Mechanical Turk is and it is actually a chess playing machine that was created in the 18th century. I started working HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), made about $10 spread out over the course of a month or so of intermittent sessions on the site and spent it on something on Amazon, probably paid for part of a pair of running shoes. I calculated my hourly wage for working these tasks and it was a paltry sum, something like $1.50 an hour. If I want to make extra money doing something that’s not incredibly annoying I could just deliver pizza at night. I figured this was not for me.

But I keep finding myself pulled back to it every once in a while. My most recent experience ended with me spending a half hour transcribing upc codes and receipt items from a photo copy of a receipt in to a form on a website. Tedious work which I was enjoying at first and just wanting to get through near the end.

I started wondering why this seems to be fairly popular, at least it seems to get some attention from large numbers of folks, but I knew it was not for exciting low paying receipt transcription, that’s for sure. I searched for “good HITs on MTURK” and the first link took me to Redditt where there was a page for trending “HITs”. The top trending item was a link to a survey where you get paid $0.75 to take a ten minute survey. I clicked on it and started taking a survey from The University of Tennessee about a hypothetical shopping situation. It was not too annoying and did take about ten minutes. Now that’s approaching $5.00 an hour which is probably worth turning totally unproductive time in to some spending money.

So here’s what I have learned. Don’t go to mturk.com, that’s bottom feeding for HITs. Google “high paying HITs” to find things that just might be worth an hour or two here and there.

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