Thursday, April 27, 2006

Requester Site Overhaul

Wow....I didn't see this one coming at all. Amazon has totally changed the Requester site.

The biggest difference is HIT Creation, in other words a user can create there own HITs, Which eliminates the need for sites like HIT Builder (although it has some nifty features like graphs) and even things like CastingWords, rather could just go straight to the source of the labor. But of course just using CastingWords would be simpler and easier.

Other then just HIT Creation, the site has HIT Management, and much better reporting. The features are far too many for me to list. So just go and check it out.

Monday, April 24, 2006

HIT: Are these Books Different?

A new HIT type that I just spotted from Amazon asks "Are these Books different?" I wasn't able to grab the HIT but I'm assuming you simply compare to books from there cover, given title, a description and see if they are the same. The HIT paid 2 cents...And seemed to be in short supply, so I wouldn't count on seeing many of these around.

Friday, April 14, 2006

mTurk Interface Changes

Today mTurk received some updates to it's top bar, going to a bluish color and you can now search for HITs by price. Nothing major, but a nice little update.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Can you spell? Hopefully....I'm not a skilled spelling, spellcheck is my hero, without it I'd spend many hours with my nose stuck in a dictionary hopelessly lost. But am I alone in my lack of spelling skill? No. Here's a search for "Mechnical Turk" (notice that there should be an "a" in mechanical).

Here's a few of my favorites
My point is simply a friendly reminder, to always click spellcheck before you click publish.

Great Answers!

Finally people have a reason to do the 2 and 3 cent Amazon Research question HIT's. They've started up a "Great Answers!" Weekly contest for them. Here's the description:

Every week we will pay a cash reward to the top 10 workers who have received the most number of "Great Answer" votes from answering Amazon Requester Inc.'s Research Question HITs.

* To get a "Great Answer" vote you must work on Amazon Requester Inc.'s Research Question HITs and provide high quality answers.
* Each question you answer can receive a "Great Answer" vote from the person who asked the question.
* Each time you receive a "Great Answer" vote we will notify you via email, which will also include your "Great Answer" stats for the week and how well you are doing relative to your peers.
* At the end of the week we will reward the top 10 workers who have received the most number of "Great Answer" votes.
* The top 10 workers will then receive an email with a token ID which you will need to enter into the appropriate HIT to claim your cash reward.

Weekly Rewards ending Apr 13 2006:

#1 ranked worker - $50

#2 ranked worker - $45

#3 ranked worker - $40

#4 ranked worker - $35

#5 ranked worker - $30

#6 ranked worker - $25

#7 ranked worker - $20

#8 ranked worker - $15

#9 ranked worker - $10

#10 ranked worker - $5

So what Amazon is doing here, is putting up 10 HIT's, that are only relevant to 10 people. I'm going to call this HIT pollution.

Now don't get me wrong, this is a great way to motivate Turkers to do higher quality work on the Research Questions. But here's what they should do, first raise the price of research questions to something reasonable. I consider myself a very skilled searcher, I can find all sorts of things that others fail at, but unless someone is asking "What is the capital of Japan?" I need time to research, and so does everyone else unless they are rather knowledgeable in the field of the question.

And Amazon knows as well as I do, that if you don't pay well on HIT's, you get junk back. Turkers won't work for 10 cents an hour, we aren't starving on the streets, we have some free time and are chillin on the computer. Now if mTurk contacted local libraries, they might be able to setup a Turking for the Homeless program, where homeless people could go to local libraries and try to get back on there feet via Turking. But I don't see this catching on at the moment.

Now if you want to put in a good work rewards system, and can't wait for the mTurk development team to implement it, use something like Amazon Gift Certificates. Then the money stays in the Amazon system and we don't annoy Turkers with irrelevant HIT's.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

mTurk to Exit Beta in the Next 2 Months

An article on Amazon's LinuxWorld Presentation says that they plan on having mTurk exit beta in the next 2 months. Personally as a requester and as a Turker I'd like to see a number of new features added still. Of course this can happen after mTurk exits beta. But within the next 5 months I'd like to see:

  • The elimination of the need for token's, create a system where users could perform all of any HIT without visiting any other website (at the requesters choice) It'd be nice to be able to upload files, images, work with pdf's, and flash in the mTurk window. The token system is bothersome, and has room for mistakes.
  • I'd like to see a Worker ID program, basically a worker if they choose can allow there name and perhaps a profile to go with their number. Perhaps give requesters the option of inviting workers to do certain HIT's (Have an invite be like a qualification). This would further the idea that Turkers are simply small task oriented contractors.
  • Personalized listing of HIT's (not needed now, but if mTurk ever fills up with HIT's, it would be useful to have a sorting that puts HIT's similar to those a worker has completed in the past on top)
  • Qualification deaths (there are so many stupid qualifications that haven't been used for anything for quite a while, it's bothersome, and a lot like litter)

And I'm sure the folks that work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week have many more great ideas. Many of which I hope to see in the months to come, good luck Turk Developers, Rudy and everybody else that works on the Turk project.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Google Plans to use mTurk to Improve Google Earth

This morning Google announced plans to use mTurk to acquire pictures of everything from ground level to add to it's Google Earth product which currently has satellite pictures of everywhere on earth. This is quite similar to the Blockview project by Amazon, only rather then using us Turkers to correct the images, Google will simply have us take them. Although exactly how much Google will pay for each picture is still up in the air, it's rumored to be 3 cents. So in order to get that Xbox 360 you've been dreaming of, you need to take 13,333 pictures or so. And you have to know the GPS coordinates of each one, and make sure that no one beats you to the punch. I suggest taking your camera up to a rural region but you should probably wait to get started until these HIT's appear, so that you know the exact instructions from Google, my guess is that they will release some sort of program that will assist you by offering you certain GPS locations near you, and then uploading the pictures for you.

Anyways, I am very excited, finally the old early beta days where you could sit for 8 hours a day doing HIT's will be back. I can't wait.

Edit: Just in case you didn't notice, Happy April Fools