Friday, December 30, 2005

French Translation (BTTS) Officially Dead,

Too bad this never really took off. But it's been shutdown. Though on a bright note the source code to it has been released.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Amazon is Setting a Bad Example

This morning I have seen several of the Product Question HIT's. Which ask a question like "Where is the best place to change your oil in New York?". Or 'What is the best 5mp digital camera for your money?" Things like that, these are obviously tests of a system, perhaps signs of a future feature on Amazon where users could ask a product questions in human form, and then Turkers could answer it for them. But tests cost money, these HIT's pay 2 cents. Amazon should be able to put up more then 2 cents per an HIT for development. These HIT's should pay 50 cents or more and I expect they will. But I think Amazon should be a good example and actually pay Turkers for the test HIT's. As well you are going to get different results based on what you pay. If you pay a worker 1 cent to research processors, they are going to give you a quick bit. But if you pay them 3 dollars. You can count on them really doing there homework for 30 minutes or so. So testing with low payments doesn't necessary show you the results that you will get at higher prices.

I Just Realized Something

Tonight while doing "Survey Verification" HIT's (there were about 15 thousand of them) I had my scripts turned off and was using mTurk's "Automatically accept the next HIT" feature. I found this to be a nice alternative to GreaseMonkey scripts, but then I realized that it's far superior because with it you don't get the "This HIT has already been Accepted" message.Ever. Because it's assigning you one, not showing you one.

Just felt like pointing that out. It rocks, one less annoyance in mTurk, and a reason to take auto-accept out of scripts and just use mTurk's. Also this is a smart move by Amazon because for those usually auto-accept scripts it just wastes there bandwidth and ties up the server. And old move, but I didn't realize what it had really changed until I finally had a massive amount of HIT's to use it on.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Review HIT's

These look like a pain for 3 cents. Here's a full rundown on them, basically you receive a question like "What is the best 5mp Digital Camera for your money?" (the requester is Amazon). You research it via local stores (calling them), and the internet, then return a review. Although I see this being rather fun, and useful for Amazon. 3 cents is a ripoff. Of course most likely if we see more of these the price will go up. These were more then likely just tests. So we'll see.

Rank Your Top 3 Verification HIT

I snagged on of these. They are simple quick and easy. And pay 1 cent. You are presented with 3 answers, from the results of a Rank Your Top 3 HIT, you simply mark for each one if it is a valid answer or not. (For instance if the subject was "Best Pizza Places in Chicago" and the answers were Eat, More, and Hi. That would be a no.)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas Turkers!

Rank your Top 3 Qualification

I'm not sure when this showed up, but a new qualification called "Rank your Top 3" Verifier has shown up. The description is as follows.

This qualification allows you to be a verifier for "Rank Your Top 3" HITs. Your task will be to ensure that submissions are accurate. Your ability to continue as a verifier for these HITs depends on you consistently submitting high quality work. If your work quality does not remain high, your qualification score will be reduced and you may no longer be eligible to be a verifier.

Oddly enough, when I took the test, there is only one question, in which it tells you to check mark a box and then click submit and then you're done. I passed with 100 percent, I suppose this is anti-idiot protection or something. Or perhaps a test of the qualification system.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Apparel Color Normalization HIT

Spimal has spotted a new type of HIT titled "Apparel Color Normalization" from Amazon. You simply match a color with the fabric shown. And it pays 2 cents. Sounds pretty sweet. Though few have shown up so far maybe this is the next big HIT (Image Adjustments, then Confirm Artist names, then this) As well podcasts have been appearing every night lately.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another use for mTurk

As I was wondering the net, I stumbled upon a blog post in which the writer plans on using mTurk to correct the page numbers on books on his site.

"I know that some of the page numbers of D&D books are wrong. I'll eventually get around to fixing that in Mechanical Turk."

Although mTurk has already been used for the extraction of data from images (Acris). It hasn't been used for retrieving page number data. This could be a very quick and unstressful sort of HIT. I'm also looking forward to the first HIT's where, unlike podcast transcribing, you type out the text on images (or tag them). Though with the writings being paragraphs and such, not a few numbers like Acris HIT's. I know many companies have been digitizing there records to stay up in this digital age so I wouldn't be surpised to see such HIT's.

Updated Developer Guide

I am not all that familar with the developer guide, so I don't know what has changed. But Amazon just released an updated version of the mTurk Developer Guide.

AWS Casting Words Walkthrough

Jeff Bar has posted a nice look at over at the Amazon Web Services Blog. Casting Words is one of the first services that has been born as a middle man that takes you work and has Turker's do it. And considering the hundred's of podcast HIT's I saw last night, it is becoming sucessful.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Automatically Accept HIT's without a Script

Amazon has added an automatically accept HIT checkbox which appears under submit when you accept an HIT. In other news....Tons of podcast HIT's.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

To Beard or Not to Beard

A humerous test by Michael M. George (an amazon employee) has shown up asking whether you think he looks better with a beard of without. The survey pays 1 cent and it appears that everyone can take it once.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Turk Tidbits

A new requester of HIT's has been spotted (Santa Cruz Tech).

As well has put up a resource page for turkers doing it's work. Pretty nice little page they put up. I really need to get an HIT of theirs so I can pass the qualification test.

Edit: I was poking around Santa Cruz Tech, turns out it's the company that employs the guys at Turk Watch. (The three of them work on Santa Cruz Tech's Blogshares Project. The company builds websites basically, though perhaps they plan on taking advantage of mTurk to reel in some dough some other way.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Rate your Top 3

A plethora of these HIT's from Amazon have shown up. Basically your task is to identify the best of various categories, all of the city ones (only appearing for major cities) the catogory is establishments. And the other one that doesn't name a city tends to be rather random.

Basically this is another survey type of HIT, my guess is Amazon has decided this would be a cool thing to offer (a site with tons of survey information), as well as a good way to perfect mTurk's handling of surveys. They pay 1 cent, but are kinda fun.

Link Update

Despite the lack of HIT's the mTurk community is still growing. and Turker Nation are thriving. Mech Turk Blog is getting plenty of visitors, though unfortunity they don't seem to be posting much. But kpaul is very good about keeping users up to date.

As well recently these sites have emerged - Very Similar in setup to Mech Turk Blog
Aaron's Turking Log - This dude is trying to get to get enough turking done to buy an iBook

Everything else is either still listed in the links to the right, or has died. Kinda a shame to see how many of the blogs haven't been updated for weeks. But that's the way things tend to be. A burst, and then it all dies down.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Outsourcing 2.0

mTurk has been called the outsourcing of the 21st century...A recent article discusses it well. What is it really? Will projects like this replace traditional outsourcing? mTurk eliminates the equipment costs, the building costs, in fact it eliminates nearly every cost associated with traditional outsourcing...Other then the need to actually pay your workers (Someone's going to make some video game that tricks kids into working for free one of these days though)

As well it's been called one of the best examples of Web 2.0 (we are on the 4th or 5th version of the web already but I'll save that rant)

But when we get down to it...It's simply a solution. A solution to getting a lot of simple work done fast. Of course from here it could evolve into anything. Perhaps it will become the new outsourcing model. One issue with Amazon's basic idea of putting it into programs is that the work isn't necessary done instantly. If mTurk becomes popular among developers, there could quite possibly be more work then workers can do. And a program might have to wait days for it's task to be completed.

I think I can safely say that other major companies, will build mTurk equivalents within the next few years. With bandwidth costs lowing, and companies looking for every way possible to lower costs, this is a great solution. But to be honest...I think things like mTurk will become a reason to learn English for those in China and other countries where $50US a day is great pay. But I am gonna drag as much cash out of mTurk before those in low income countries setup systems to get cash via US Bank Accounts. Or I might just setup a business in a low income country, where I hire those fluent in English to come in and work in a computer lab on mTurk all day. Heh.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Developers Get 1,000 Cash Back from Amazon

Amazon has just started a promotion in which developers paying for $2,000 worth of HIT's will get $1,00 back. That's a great deal...Has got me thinking about what I might be able to use mTurk's massive army of workers for.

Now my first thought was....Wait a sec scammers could have a heyday. You know make a large amount of HIT's, stick a qualification that only your friends or others in your organization can pass. And bam...You just ripped Amazon off of 1,000 bucks...Repeat with different accounts. But they have it covered (in those official rules that nobody reads)

Qualifying HITs
To qualify for a credit each HIT must: (1) be of a nature that could be completed by any Worker with a reasonable level of skill in the task required by the HIT; (2) not require a particular qualification, knowledge of passwords or knowledge of specific facts that Requester knows are known only to an individual Worker or small group of Workers; and (3) if the Requester is an entity, not be completed by a Worker that is an employee, contractor, shareholder, director, or affiliate of the Requester; or if the Requester is an individual, not be completed by an immediate family member or co-worker of Requester or reside at the same address as the Requester. The price charged by Requester for the HIT must be, in Amazon Mechanical Turk’s sole discretion, a reasonable approximation of the value of the HIT. The transaction between Requester and Worker must be, in Amazon Mechanical Turk’s sole discretion, a bona fide purchase of services.

In short it says that qualifing HIT's have to have no qualifications, and that they have to be easy enough that most workers can do podcasts are in....But doing someone's 12 page college essay on neutrons is out. Which I should seriously start....a service that students can submit homework to do on and get completed for a moderate fee. I wonder how teachers would combat such a thing. As well you could have entire websites, in which the creator simply finds the basic infomation and then submits it to mturkers to write out articles and such. Ah now my mind is running away with ideas, heh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

mTurk Seminar

Hatch over at Turk Lurker participated in the mTurk Developer Seminar tonight and has a nice write up on it. Though, there's no real information from it...That wasn't previously known.

In other news....Nothing. Acris HIT's have been showing up a little, with a few music HIT's, and podcast HIT's...And that's it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Word Verification

Apparently the Mechs has added word verification to the HIT's. I haven't seen this myself...Mainly because I haven't seen any HIT's lately....But there's several threads on it.

Hopefully it doesn't show up too often...Once out of every 100 or so is fine...But more often becomes just annoying. But this is a standard anti-bot measure, that works well for most sites. Though usually it's for something like registration, not something like HIT's where a single user does hundreds to thousands a day...So we'll see if it's around for long. Expect tweaking of it, and some weirdness now and then.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Pheromone Trails Survey

This is the first survey to show up, here's the description, "Take the survey by clicking the link in the upper right hand corner of this box. You can only take this survey once!" The requestor is "Amazon Requester Inc.". It's simple, though I wish I could take more surveys not just one. Though this one only paid 1 cent.

I suspect that Amazon will begin testing out many HIT's like this. Just as the Image Adjustments, and Music HIT's have been ran multiple times, to test different setups. They are tweaking the systems.

Here is the site that the HIT referred to

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tutorial: No Load Time

Note: Ignore if are an advanced Turker
  1. Download and install Firefox 1.5
  2. Open Firefox and install the TabSwitcher Extension in it
  3. Restart Firefox
  4. Goto Tools > Extensions > Select TabSwitcher > Click Options > Click on the textbox to the right of "Next Tab" > Press the keyboard key or combination of keys that you wish for firefox to goto the next tab when pressed (I suggust F4) > repeat for "Previous Tab" (I suggust F2) > Click "OK > Close Extensions window
  5. Goto find Available HIT's
  6. Find desired HIT group > Right Click "View a HIT in this Group" > Click "Open Link in new Tab" > Repeat for desired number of tabs (I suggest 4-10 depending on your connection speed and Turking speed, experiment)
  7. Now when an HIT is completed and submitting, press your keyboards key(s) for the next tab, and BAM, no need to wait for HIT's to load, just go.

Things to note.
  • If one of your tabs is on an error screen, press F5 (refresh) and go to the next.

Tutorial: Speed Through Music HIT's

Note: I've found that many finding my site are looking for simple tutorials on how to use scripts. So I'm going to begin writing simple tutorials for using scripts. Pretty basic. Ignore if you are already running scripts.

  1. Download and install Firefox 1.5
  2. Open Firefox and install the GreaseMonkey Extension in it
  3. Restart Firefox
  4. Right Click Here, and click Install User Script (It's a modification of TurkOp)
  5. Go find Music HIT's
  6. Click "View an HIT in this Group"
  7. Turk your way to Happiness

Things to note.
  • To turn GreaseMonkey off, click on the icon of a monkey in the bottom-right corner of Firefox
  • To turn off only this script, go to Tools > Manage User Scripts > Select "Demon's TurkOp Mod" > Uncheck "Enabled"
  • To exit the script's loop of accepting HIT's, go here, finish the remaining accepted HIT's, it won't accept new ones.

Not Keeping my Eyes on Things

Today I read through forum posts and such...And I realized I have missed a lot in the last couple of days...Where to begin....

First off there's the Amazon Mechanical Turk Status Update. Which includes the email address to complain to about being unjustly banned. As well as some other interesting tidbits from Jeff Bar.

Secondly, there's a new Turking Resource, the Mech Turk Blog, which is actually much more then just a blog (it has forums and whatnot).

Thirdly....the GreaseMonkey scripters have gone above and beyond the call of duty. This is the script I am now using for music HIT's. I havn't had the time to find the orignal thread of this script....but I'm sure it's somewhere. It's a modification of the TurkOp script, but it finds possible artist names (on google and amazon) and makes them clickable. As well, over at there is this thread, which compares the 2nd generation music HIT's scripts, and script modifications. And the TurkOp script itself seems to have some several new features and such. I'll have to devote some time to reviewing all the new scripts later tonight.

Sorry about falling behind....just so distracted by all this stuff that I've bought with Turking money. It's one of those win-lose situations, the more you Turk the more cool stuff you buy, the more cool stuff you buy the less you want to Turk. Oh well....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It's been too quiet. So here's a little program that isn't quite ready but is getting there. Ajedrecista is a plugin based alternative to using a web browser. Granted so far it only has one plugin which is for music HIT's and that's in alpha (The most recent build crashes when I try to use the plugin) Everything else is looking pretty good, the login, stats report and such.

It's not ready to be used but certainly something to keep your eyes on. Lately on MTurk itself there have been Music HIT's mostly and then a few podcast's, and some French/English language translation HIT's...Which look kinda fun...Though I don't know French...In fact I'm still working on my first language English..heh.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lookup Documents in Acris Website (New HIT Type)

Ok admitting I returned this HIT, in fact I could barely find anything that resembled the information I was looking for, but still it's a new type of HIT.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Are you fluent in French?

A new Qualification test has shown up entitled "BTTS English/French Fluency" and here's the description "This is the L1 qualification for the Bitporters Text Translation services. Applicants should be fluent in both languages. The use of online text translation services like will not be tolerated."

I'm not sure what this guy is thinking, according to his blog, he is starting this up to go with Mechanical Turk. Now seriously out of all of you Turkers out there, who is fluent in French and English? Maybe some Europeans, but very few people with US Bank Accounts are fluent, and it's doubtful they would work on something like Mechanical Turk, but maybe I'm just closed minded.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Age of Confirming Artists

Well I've started watching TV a lot more again, Turking as I watch but still it kills my speed.

Anyways on news, Mechanical Turk has been littered with a few Image Adjustments but mostly just Confirm Artist HIT's.

Also I've seen a few Podcast HIT's lately. My advice to everyone, try one or two but then stop doing them. Let's say you can type out what they say perfectly at the speed they say it...Each clip is about 30 seconds long....So if you write a script that makes it so you can do them back to back with no wait time, you would make (they pay 4 cents) $4.80 an hour. Now unless you just rock at typing, which some of you do. You're more likely to get about $2 an hour. Edit: According to sandoz, the one's that have been showing up are tests...that will lead to higher paying ones, I've missed these forum posts myself.

Of course there may be a few of you out there, that could simply speed up the recording by let's say 3x.. And type it at that speed...For you the podcasts are defiantly worth it. Though I'm certainty not one of those people. Put simply let's make them raise the price on these podcasts....Don't do them unless there are no other HIT's to do, they aren't worth it.