Spencer Barton

12 May 2014

I recently used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for the quantified selfie project. Mechanical Turk is a crowd sourced marketplace where you submit small tasks for hundreds of people to complete. Mechanical Turk is used to tag images, transcribe text, analyze sentiment and perform other tasks. A request puts up a HIT (Human Intelligence Task) and offers a small reward for completion. People from all over the world then complete the task (if you priced it right). The result is large, hard to compute tasks are completed quickly for far less then minimum wage. Turkers are choosing to work

Turking is a bit magical. You put HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) up and a few hours later a mass of humanity has completed your task, unless you screw up.

I screwed-up a bit and I learned a few lessons. First it is essential to keep it simple. My first HIT had directions to include newlines. I got a few emails from Turkers – it appears that newlines were a bit confusing. I also learned that task completion is completely dependent on the price paid. Make sure to pay enough – look at similar projects that are currently running.