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Peanuts and Monkeys: How to profit from Mechanical Turk
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Peanuts and Monkeys: How to profit from Mechanical Turk

Amazon offers a crowdsourcing web service known as the Mechanical Turk, which connects Requesters with Workers who ...

Peanuts and Monkeys: How to profit from Mechanical Turk

Amazon offers a crowdsourcing web service known as the Mechanical Turk, which connects Requesters with Workers who can perform simple tasks that are beyond computer capabilities. Clients seeking a service can post Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs), which Workers may browse through and voluntarily perform.

 

Common tasks include:

  • Surveys

  • Short articles

  • Product descriptions

 

Peanuts and Monkeys

 

The service has been criticized for its tendency towards poor pay. Workers or “Turkers” are hard-pressed to make more than 5-10 dollars an hour, and even that is often on the higher end of the pay scale.


The phrase, “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys” refers to the problem of poor work quality blamed on this lack of cash potential. Yet, all is not lost…

 

 

You CAN Profit as a Turker

 

Keep in mind that you determine the value of your time. Most tasks take moments, but if you hope to make a worthwhile profit, avoid tasks that pay below .50 cents.

 

Learn to estimate the time a task will take. Skim instructions and make a judgment call. Anything that requires specific knowledge tends to take longer and should be avoided. Unless, of course, you have that specific knowledge.

 

Hone in on HITs that link to tests. Requesters who include tests are seeking higher quality work, and are often happy to appropriately reimburse you for the task.

 

Profit as a Requester

 

If you’re looking to profit by requesting, post HIT’s that are quick, simple, and numerous. Mechanical Turk works best when utilized as it was designed, for the purpose of performing repetitive, yet scalable processes that must be completed manually.

 

Test your task setup before you upload a large quantity of tasks. This will allow you to work out any kinks in the setup. When you do upload, pay special attention to the instructions you write for the requested task. Make them clear and concise to ensure you get the work you want.

 

 

Clarity is your number one asset to getting your desired results.

 

Finally, pay your Turkers appropriately. An average of 6 dollars an hour is a fair price for menial tasks. If your tasks get pounced on, you may be overpaying. Conversely, if they take more time to complete, offer more.

 

Mechanical Turk users can end up profiting. You’ve got to be savvy about it, and you can’t expect a six-figure salary, but profit potential is there.

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