Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mechanical Turk a Sweatshop?

Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing has dredged up this tired old headline once again, asking "Is Mechanical Turk a Sweatshop?".

The article referenced adds nothing new either.  Yes, you may only get 3 cents for doing a "job", but it's not like Amazon is holding anything over your head and making you work in poor environment.  Just the fact that you even have the ability to spend 5 seconds on something and actually make any money at all is pretty much amazing. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My New Project

I've pretty much given up on the Mechanical Turk these days. I am working on a 4x Browser Space Game called Project Libertine. It's design is based on some of the old Play by Mail games I used to play back in the 1980's and 1990's.

It's a long way from being ready, but I'm updating the development blog fairly regularly. I've actually got some plans about using Mechanical Turk to automate some of the game administration once it goes live. Like approving character and ship names and such.

Monday, July 02, 2007

July 3rd System Upgrade

A new message was posted on the Mechanical Turk today from Amazon:

We are upgrading our system on Tuesday, July 3rd, between the hours of 12:00am and 3:00am PDT. During these times, users will not be able to register for new Mechanical Turk accounts. Some users will be not be able to transfer funds or view account balances. Existing users can still submit HITs, but some payments will be delayed until the upgrade has finished. Statistics may also be inconsistent during this maintenance period, but will be correct after the system upgrade.

Back to Turking

There's a book I want to order from Amazon, so I've been doing some Turking again the last few days. It's still not as fun as the good old days right after it launched, but I've managed to make a few buck while laying on the couch late at night. I did about 50 short transcription hits for over the weekend, but so far they haven't been approved. The "Are these watches different?" hits from Amazon remind me of the good old days somewhat, since they're quick to do, but they seem to trickle them out and they're quickly gone. I probably won't have the patience to get ripped off for my work long enough to get the entire amount I need for the book, but it was fun to spend a few hours back in the slave yard.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

eMail from Amazon

I haven't gotten any eMail from Amazon about The Mechanical Turk for months, but last week I got one telling me about new hits available. The Geospatial Vision hits look very interesting, but also somewhat time consuming, especially for $0.08 a hit. I'm sure my little buddy Eric will be all over them, but he's desperately trying to avoid getting a real job anyway. I checked too late to see what the Enrovia Research hits were like. They must have been pretty good since there don't appear to be any available today.

Monday, January 08, 2007

MTurk Mentioned on

The Mechanical Turk was mentioned in an article on by Liz Pulliam Weston that talked about jobs you can do from home. As usual, they made MTurk sound like a great idea, but then pointed out the truth that most jobs there just don't pay very well.

Personally, I've been scanning the available hits every few weeks myself and there's just doesn't seem like there's much worth doing out there right now. Still no "killer apps," which has plagued the project since the beginning.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Great Charity For Turkers

Over at the Turker Nation messageboards, Turker Iteki mentioned a great charity that is set up in a way that makes it extremely easy for Turkers to contribute to.

Child's Play is a charity set up by Internet gamers that allows you to browse a wish list on Amazon, then select an item from the list and purchase it through Amazon, who will send it on to the hospital that requested the item. So Turkers can spend some of their hard earned credit to help out sick kids all across the country.

Even if you're not currently turking, please consider donating to this very worthy cause.

Monday, June 12, 2006


I was interviewed recently by Wired Magazine about my previous experiences with the Mechanical Turk. A 30 minute phone interview turned into a two-sentence quote in the June 2006 issue. If you'd like to read the article, follow this link. My quote is on page four. I don't remember using the word "gimpy", but maybe I did. What I was trying to say was that MTurk seems to be in a pause right now, with little in the way of interesting work, and it's just waiting for someone to come up with a good way to make use of it's full potential.