MTurk (Amazon Mechanical Turk) is an online crowdsourcing marketplace powered by Amazon. The site employs more than 500,000 workers every day. Both companies and workers can easily use the platform by entering a valid email address or linking your Amazon account.
For businesses with many repetitive responsibilities that are easy to scale into smaller tasks, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk can help you. The website specializes in functions of this nature and can have them performed by large numbers of people in a short time.
For small businesses and startups, this is an effective way to streamline time-consuming and expensive processes like data collection and data entry. But the services you employ can mean the difference between failure and success for your business.
But is MTurk worth it, or is it a scam? Read below to find out if MTurk is suitable for your company, and find more reviews here.
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When you register for MTurk, two options appear: Create Tasks or Make Money. The making money option is for those who want to work for MTurk. While skills are cataloged and can help workers become eligible for different tasks, no specific skills are required to become a worker.
Workers range from different backgrounds in over 100 countries and are generally looking to make extra money from home quickly.
For those who want to create tasks, after you’ve registered and entered your business information/preferences, you will be given the links to several tutorials on how to develop tasks specific to your company's needs.
Once you feel comfortable with the platform, you will move to a list of templates. The templates show what the task will look like in the marketplace and suggest styles and specifications. There is more detail about these templates later on in the review, but they have a wide range from surveys to audio transcription.
After you’ve designed your task (called a “human intelligence task” or HIT), it will become available in the MTurk Marketplace. There, hundreds of thousands of workers can view the job, the payment, and the time required to complete it. If all of these criteria are attractive to the worker, then they will accept the assignment. Depending on the size and scope of the task, you can have hundreds of results almost immediately.
The idea here is to have companies with large repetitive operations to accomplish their tasks without hiring a large group of temporary workers. Instead, extensive studies or research can be divided into a series of questions or small assignments and completed by thousands of people at the price of your choosing.
You set the price. Depending on the type of assignment and the work hours necessary, you can determine what you are willing to pay MTurk workers for completing the task.
MTurk will collect a fee of 20% on top of whatever you charge, whatever reward and bonus you offer to the workers. If you have more than ten tasks with MTurk, they will collect an additional 20% fee from each task. The minimum fee they will collect is $0.01.
There are also different types of qualifications you can add on to get better quality work from your tasks. First, there is a master’s qualification. This qualification is given to MTurk workers who have completed more than 100 tasks and have a positive review rating. For this qualification, you will pay an additional 5% per task.
There are also premium qualifications. Premium qualifications narrow down the workers eligible for your task by a range of categories like age and whether they own a home. There are several other premium qualifications available, and they start at an additional $0.05 per task (full list of premium qualifications).
You decide how much to pay the workers, but it can reflect the number of workers doing your task and the quality of work you receive. One worker on Reddit recommends paying around $15 an hour for the best results and $9-10 an hour for decent results. These hourly rates translate to about $0.04-0.05 per hit for quick tasks that can be completed 4 per minute.
Once you pay a worker, they can transfer their earnings to a bank account or receive their payment in the form of an Amazon gift card.
So what are the positives of MTurk? What makes it better than other freelancing services? Take a look at the list below to see what makes MTurk special.
What can be cheaper than setting your price? When hiring outside labor for temporary projects, it can be expensive. Personnel Teams need competitive salaries to make up for the short duration of the work and are in high demand. They also require time to find them and can be limited in the number of workers for larger assignments.
MTurk allows you to break larger projects into smaller portions called “microtasks” and set your budget based on the number of these tasks and how many times you want them completed. When comparing MTurk to other online agencies and physical operations, the amount of money you're saving is entirely up to you.
Physical agencies can be limited to their immediate areas or their mailing list. Other online sites will only have the applicants that make it through their intensive screening process available to you.
When you are doing a survey or gathering data and need a comprehensive and diverse set, there is little better than MTurk. Their easy registration process results in an eclectic group of individuals that will give you more general results in much greater volumes.
The templates for “requesters” (MTurks name for companies posting tasks) come in four categories: survey, vision, language, and other. Check the picture below to see all of the template options. The templates are great because they can simplify creating a task down to a list of critical questions and specifications. This easy interface means you won’t have to be an expert in the study field to set it up for workers to complete it correctly.
No website is perfect. Look below to see some of the problems with MTurk and why people have not enjoyed using it.
The MTurk platform’s nature makes it better suited for short, repetitive tasks that don’t require a very high skill level. Ignoring the fact that many workers aren’t technically qualified, you’ll also have to keep in mind that too long tasks might discourage people from accepting them. It also favors assignments which are more straightforward because there’s no way to keep up with workers or have them revise their submission. All submissions are either approved or denied.
Since all you need to become an MTurk worker is an Amazon account, you can’t expect high-level results. Workers have ratings on their approved assignments, which can affect the tasks available to them, but your jobs will be available to pretty much anyone for the most part. You can improve the quality of work by selecting the master or premium qualifications, but this will add another fee to your HIT.
In a study on whether or not Turking was worth it, three of the four workers were paid less than the U.S. federal minimum wage. The low-paying salary and the difficulty related to moving up the MTurk ladder has its workers upset. Some people even compared it to a digital sweatshop.
While this is a job for basically anyone with a lot of time on their hands who wants to earn some side income in their downtime, this frustration can result in lower quality work. Sometimes people will fly through surveys or data collecting assignments, just selecting options randomly. With such low wages, companies must keep their payment for HIT’s high to encourage high-quality work and workers returning for more tasks.
Whether or not you should use Amazon MTurk depends on the type of work you want to accomplish. If you have a huge survey that needs to be completed by massive groups of people, this can be the cheapest and most effective option on the market. It’s effective for micro jobs and small tasks.
However, if you have an assignment looking for coding or a high-skilled and involved worker, this marketplace can result in a large volume of low quality work.
Entrepreneurs start 659,000 businesses every year in the United States. 21% of those businesses will fail in their first year. As a business on the rise, you need to take advantage of processes that can save you time and money. MTurk can take care of that for you so that you don’t have to hire a full-time employee. But be careful. After reading the article above, you should be fully aware of the product you’re receiving.