Amazon’s Mechanical Turk: Bored Money

Amazon.com recently released a beta program called Mechanical Turk for using human intelligence to solve problems that are very difficult for computers to do. For example, you figure out the name of a band from the album cover, and you get paid 2 cents. Focused people end up making a few bucks an hour. I tried some tasks, but it was pretty mind-numbing. From a money point of view, it’s classic Bored Money. From a programmer’s point of view, it’s very neat.

For more information, also see the Wikipedia entry.

Comments

  1. Just tried it…a little confusing…especially for 2 cents…

  2. I’ve been playing around with Mechanical Turk for a few weeks now. They used to have plenty of the 3-cent HITs that would ask you to locate a business’ storefront from a series of pictures. Once I got into the groove of scrolling and clicking, I could pull off about 6 of these a minute. 18 cents x 60 minutes = 10.80. Of course, roughly 10 percent of mine would get rejected for no apparent reason, and I couldn’t maintain that pace for much more than 30 minutes at a time, so I’d say I was making around $7-8 an hour doing this.

    So far, I think I’ve cleared $60 worth or so. Sadly, the 3-cent HITs have been rare lately, and the 2-cent ones aren’t worth the trouble as I can’t seem to get above $4/hr. on those.

  3. Any ways to automate some of the tasks? ;)

  4. I tried it out on some 2-cent ones…got it going at a rate of about $5.50 an hour, which is sort of pathetic. It’s still more money than I had prior to that, though…

  5. Are you all going for speed or accuracy? I’m always checking my answers on Google or something, so I’m sloooow. I wonder if the care if you only have a 75% correct rate.

  6. I think you could probably clear at least $10/hour on the album artist identification tasks. The “pick the best image” ones are too time consuming. For the album identification ones, you can simple pass on all of the ones that show the artist’s name clearly on the cover of the album. You could probably speed up the work by writing a greasemonkey script to automatically click the “i’ll do this one” button for any that have an image and decline for any that don’t.

    The “somebody else is already working on this” error would eat into your profits though.

  7. I have been playing with mturk for a while too, I got roughly $33. I love to do the “choosing the best picture” HITs and I hated the CD album one. I don’t understand why my answers for the CD album often got rejected!

  8. Yes, it is possible to automate the CD artists HITS. Right above the image, it gives the title of the album. Using Amazon’s feeds, you could plug in that title and receive the artist/band name. Accuracy would suffer especially for common album names; plus, Amazon limits the frequency of which you can pull data from their feeds. However, it would save a lot of time and carpal tunnel stress.

    Update: Even better, the ASIN is in the image url i.e. http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0000009WR.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg would be B0000009WR. In this example, it looks like Amazon has the wrong artist information, but you would probably still get credit.

  9. I posted about this on FW a while ago. Since then, I’ve made $190.54. Yes, I’ve been really bored! I tend to do this while I play poker online or when I have downtime at work. I miss the image tasks. The album ones are much more time-consuming. They also need to improve their site drastically. I still notice bugs or problems that I report to them occasionally.

  10. Anyone else having trouble with Amazon deliveries?
    I am real late on a delivery of a book from the USPS, sent a good full week ago…was “estimated delivery” to be here last Thursday.
    I'm worried they may have lost it.
    Amazon did their job and had it out the morning after my order, but the clueless USPS…?
    Anyone one else have trouble?
    Thanks for the feedback..

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