Is The Amazon Mechanical Turk A Scam?
What Exactly Is Amazon Mechanical Turk?
Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk, as it’s commonly referred to, is a microwork website that was created to help its users earn extra by completing various small tasks online. These tasks vary in nature but most of them have something to do with transcription, object verification, and miscellaneous research. All of those tasks are tasks that computers still can’t do effectively.
It would be better for the company to just hire groups of people to do the job instead of just hiring one person to do the brunt of the work. This type of outsourcing project isn’t that uncommon. In fact, it is used by plenty of big companies to divide their workload effectively.
How To Get Started Using Amazon Mechanical Turk?
MTurk is a separate entity from the Amazon we know and love. Sure, they are basically run by the same company but their purpose couldn’t be farther from each other. Think of it just like a side project from Amazon. It carries the brand name but not the actual thing that Amazon is known for, which is for buying stuff.
The first thing you need to do is sign up using your existing Amazon account. You can also create a new account if you so wish. Apart from the profile forms, you will need to answer a few questions regarding the reason you want to work for MTurk. Once you get verified, which only takes 48 hours, you can now start selecting the tasks you want to complete.
A Few Quirks You Should Be Aware Of
At the time of this writing, you should understand that only workers in the US and India can earn real money. Any other country can only redeem their earnings in Amazon gift cards wherein it’s only useable on Amazon.com and not any of the Amazon international sites.
In a way, this sort of prevents a good chunk of people to sign up for this program because of the weird rules and regulations it has in place.
What Are The Available Gigs?
The gigs on MTurk are known as HITs which is short from Human Intelligence Tasks. These are the tasks that can’t be completed by computers yet. Some of these things are:
- Completing surveys
- Online Research
- Image Identifications
- Finding data elements in documents
- Writing contents
- And many more
Unlike other similar websites like ClickWorker for instance, MTurk will have plenty of work available on the platform. It’s probably one of the top 5 biggest companies in the world and it’s only fair to assume that companies are lining up to use their service, and it shows. There’s no shortage of tasks on MTurk ranging from completing random research to writing a review of an item.
How Many HITs Can You Finish In A Day?
Well, the value would vary a lot since it is dependent on too many factors. But on average, the usual number ranges from 100 HITs to as much as 4000. Again, this depends a lot of many factors like how old your account is, how fast you work, and how many HITs are available at the moment.
For newer accounts, they are limited to accepting 100 HITs per day. And what’s better with this company is in my experience at least, I’ve never run out of HITs. There simply is too many to go through, and that’s because Amazon is a huge company, probably the biggest company in the world. It just makes sense that it has many available works because of the sheer number of its affiliates. This is a stark contrast to similar companies wherein there’s almost a limited amount of work per day, and it runs out as soon as they become available. I never came across that using this platform.
How Do Start Doing HITs?
As I’ve said, HITs are different from each other. You are basically given different instructions for each category of HITs that you access. However, they follow the basic pattern which is easy to follow. Remember that HITs are pretty much self-explanatory which don’t require much thought at all. These are the easiest tasks of the bunch.
To give you an idea, some HITs deal with image verification for their AI development department. You will be asked questions like “Is this book about history?” and be given a picture of a history book. Obviously, the answer is yes. But their AI doesn’t always get that right. You’re ultimately teaching the AI how to look for patterns, at least that’s how I look at it. In short, it’s an easy work. I don’t even have to explain much.
One tip I should inform you is to never give out revealing information about yourself. If you encounter a HIT that requires you to give out private information, it is best to avoid these types because you might jeopardize your privacy.
How Much Can You Make Using Amazon Mechanical Turk?
They say that the amount of work you put in directly translates to the amount you make – this is true, but only up to a point. There are times wherein someone makes a lot more money than they should. But for MTurks, the saying rings true. The minimal non-thinking kind of work that is available doesn’t pay much.
To give you an idea, an average person can probably crank out 50 HITs per hour. Depending on the worth and type of the HITs, that would probably amount to $5 – $10. Let’s go with an average of $7.50/hour. That is still higher than minimum pay in most of the US. You can earn substantially more than that if you are a fast worker. For instance, if I try to speed up my process, I can probably increase that rate to $20, which is still not that high of an amount but it is way above average compared to the most popular microwork sites. Those sites can only make you around $1/hour at their peak times. That’s way too low. Now, when you compare, even the low-end average from Mturks is way up there.
Now, can you make a living using MTurks? Probably, yes. If you have a low cost of living, you can probably survive from earning through this platform. But I should warn you though that while the work isn’t mentally-exhausting by any means, it is a repetitive type of work. I don’t know if that’s worse but, in my experience, your mind simple gets fatigued when you work round the clock doing menial repetitive tasks. Take from that what you will.
Honest Thoughts About Amazon Mechanical Turk?
- MTurks is probably the biggest microsite there is. You won’t find a more generous microsite than this one.
- Intuitive dashboard
- High acceptance rate for HITs which is convenient
- You can earn more than minimum wage if you work fast enough
- Compared to other microsites, the pay is way above average
- Almost unlimited amount of HITs available
- The amount you earn depends a lot on how fast you work
- Cash payment is only available on US and Indian workers. Workers abroad can earn Amazon cards but can only use those on the American Amazon version, which to be honest, is simply unreasonable.
The Conclusion – Final Thoughts
As far as microwork sites go, MTurks is a cut above the rest, and that’s putting it simply.
The availability of work and the amount you can potentially earn using this platform are leaps and bounds above what is possible even in the most popular microwork sites. The fact that it is backed by Amazon has a lot of perks.
In my opinion, MTurks is perfect for people looking to earn on the side. It should not be your main source of income because let’s be honest here, you won’t make that much using this platform. But then again, it depends entirely on you. If you feel like you can survive on that amount, then by all means, use this platform.
Now, if you are tired of microwork sites, you can create your own money by trying out affiliate marketing. If you follow the right steps and create a good system, it’s possible to earn off of affiliate marketing alone. And what’s more, is it will almost all be passive income. If you are interested in learning more about affiliate marketing programs and what my thoughts about it are, you can check out my recommendation down below.