My week in a Virtual Sweatshop

I am disappointed!

I have been toiling away ALL WEEK over at Amazons Mechanical Turk, but what do I have to show for it? Not much, I can tell you that!

Here is my weekly pay check statement:

Greetings from Amazon Mechanical Turk,

The following is a summary of activity for your Mechanical Turk account for the week ending Mar 29, 2008.

Your HIT activity for this week:
– Number of HITs accepted: 27
– Number of HITs returned: 5
– Number of HITs abandoned: 0
– Number of HITs submitted: 22

Approvals and payments that occurred this week:
– Number of HITs approved: 15
– Number of HITs rejected: 0
– HIT reward earned: $0.15
– Total Amount earned this week: $0.15

For more information about your account status and activity, sign in to
http://www.mturk.com/, then view your «Dashboard».

Sincerely,
Amazon Mechanical Turk
http://www.mturk.com/
1200 12TH AVE South, SUITE 1200
SEATTLE, WA 98144-2734 USA

How do you like them apples? $0.15! What can you buy for $0.15! Nothing at all! That’s what!

But seriously: I actually love Mechanical Turk, it is a great and cheap platform for solving problems where machine code can’t help (yet), like describing the content of an image or transcribing audio content. The best use of it that I’ve seen so far is a PHD student who uses mturk workers to transcribe audio interviews she has done for her thesis. The audio is pretty clear, but the subject she interviews talks pretty slurred and fast, it is sometimes difficult to make out what he says. Transscribing a five minute audio segment actually pays pretty «well», at least compared to a smaller task like tagging images, but you need to be super consentrated and prefferably experienced to complete the task with high enough quality to be approwed.