Captured Technology

What Is The Mechanical Turk?

Feb 02 2011

Mechanical Turk

Mechanical Turk is an online market that has tasks requesters can submit so that workers can get paid for them. The tasks can be anything from taking surveys, to writing articles, to proofreading, to verifying addresses and more.

Anybody who works on Mechanical Turk will have a difficult time making any sort of a living. Its almost impossible to earn even the lowest amount a normal employer would be required to give you, according to Panagiotis Ipeirotis, who is a business professor. Some workers who spend an excessive amount of time on the site may be able to earn up to 1k a month, according to some surveys. Most workers spend less than a day using the site, netting them less than $20/week.

What exactly is the appeal of the Turk then? Such low pay can still go far in some countries. As of Feb 2010 about half the workers were outside the US, with about a 1/3 being from India. In the United States most people use it to supplement their current career, not to make a full time job of it.

Amazon does not list their revenue from Mechanical Turk but it does collect 10% commission on pay, with a half penny minimum. Ipeirotis looked at all the HITS posted on Mechanical Turk for 60 days and found the average value of HITs was $2k, which means the site is making $200 per day, or $6k/month. The workers may not be getting rich, and $72,000 a year isn't wowing anybody, but the site is still an interesting option for those looking to make some extra money from home.

© 2011

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