Can you actually make money with Amazon Mechanical Turk?
July 26, 2006 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I’ve read all askMeFi references to Amazon Mechanical Turk, but has anyone actually participated, and if so, based on your experience, what would your recommendation be to someone interested? I’d appreciate answers from folks with actual experience only – if no one answers, then I think that’s my answer. (It sounds like a sweatshop to me - but what do I know?)
posted by Bobtheordinary to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I investigated it briefly and found that it was awesome for a short time a year or two ago, then went into severe stagnation. If I recall correctly, it became a situation of far too many investigators and far too few clients.

See here under "history".
posted by rolypolyman at 1:44 PM on July 26, 2006

Can you actually make money with Amazon Mechanical Turk?

I have participated in an effort to learn more about it, and I'm fairly sure the answer to the question is "no".
posted by trevyn at 1:45 PM on July 26, 2006

i participated when it was firsted launched. According to their records I earned $2.88 via performing 96 tasks (most if not all were of the "identify the best photo that describes this address" kind of task. It was neat/interesting in the beginning but it quickly became boring and the per piece eage certainly wasn't that great.
posted by mmascolino at 1:49 PM on July 26, 2006

I agree. I did some random stuff on there for awhile, and found that people were paying 1-2 cents for activities that took 20-30 seconds each once you got good at them for the easy ones and quite a lot longer for the occasional harder ones. Even assuming the most generous possible situation (all easy ones, all 20 seconds each, all 2 cents each), you couldn't break $4 an hour for that work.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:51 PM on July 26, 2006

I have a friend who made some cash off of it. In December of 2005 he wrote:
I have been doing this in my spare time for about two weeks now (a few minutes here and there, or maybe I'll sit down for a session on the weekend and blow through a few hundred) and I've already earned over $150.
I asked him if he knew how much he made per hour and he said he didn't want to know.
posted by revgeorge at 1:52 PM on July 26, 2006

I found it to be a huge waste of time for the meagre rewards you get.
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:53 PM on July 26, 2006

My experience was about the same as everyone else's.
posted by JanetLand at 1:55 PM on July 26, 2006

Ditto everyone else. I tried it for a while and it just seemed like a huge waste of time, unless you like working for third world wages. The work that was available when I was trying it was horribly boring, as well.
posted by cgg at 2:02 PM on July 26, 2006

Salon just did a story on it. Their conclusion? The money is okay for a "hobby" but horrible for a "job".
posted by O9scar at 2:06 PM on July 26, 2006

It's a great idea! I'd totally make use of it if people were making sensible offers with it instead of "write a review and get a shiny penny!".
posted by squidlarkin at 2:11 PM on July 26, 2006

I used to do this when it was slow at work. I think I pulled in about $6 over two weeks.
posted by calistasm at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2006

The Salon piece gives the example of someone earning thirty dollars in an eight-hour day, but not, obviously, concentrating the whole time. If you can earn two bucks while doing a task so un-demanding that you can watch an hour of TV at the same time, is that working for an hour?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:57 PM on July 26, 2006

Ha ha. You guys have more patience than I do. Although, I did start late in the game. I accumulated about 30 cents before giving up.
posted by peep at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2006

I tested it out as a favor to a friend involved when it in the early stages and it was much better then than it is now, and it is unlikely to imporve in the future.

If they canned the captchas for trusted users and someone wrote a third party application to streamline the interface it would be acceptable, but at the moment you'll make more money collecting cans homeless-style than you'll make on the turk.
posted by little miss manners at 3:37 PM on July 26, 2006

I made about a nickle before giving up and never returning. Which reminds me...

posted by rinkjustice at 3:54 PM on July 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I made a couple hundred dollars over a weekend doing some $5 tasks that were 'Take a digital photo of this address in your neighborhood and upload it'. Some real estate/forclosure listing company trying out getting pictures for their listings, I guess.

I was just lucky to be in the right area at the right time-
posted by bemis at 3:57 PM on July 26, 2006

Guess we'll have to wait until Nicholas Negroponte's army of OLPC kids get involved.
posted by greytape at 4:58 PM on July 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Are you asking if it's possible to make money using the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform to build a business, or whether it's possible to make money by acting as a guinea pig and just signing up for whatever HITs you see publically available?

Because those are two very, very different questions. The answer to the latter question is almost certainly no, whereas the answer to the former question is a definite yes.

People are building entire businesses on the Turk API - but the HITs aren't just thrown out into the general pool, they're distributed to custom-built applications running on the worker's machine (a worker who has through some other means been recruited). Turk handles all the details of distributing jobs and paying workers.

This question is along the same lines as all those who have been asking why Amazon S3 and Simple Queuing Service seem so useless and user-unfriendly. The answer is that these are not intended for the end-user! These services are for developers to build applications on top of - and people have been doing just that. For example, photo sharing site SmugMug uses Amazon S3 as its storage backend.
posted by dmd at 8:41 PM on July 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

« Older Living in a fishbowl   |   Did I dream this or was this actually written? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.