[Guide] Welcome to the world of Mechanical Turk

Discussion in 'Help & Guides' started by deansep, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. deansep

    deansep Well-Known Turker

    For those who are interested in learning about 'turking' this should hopefully explain most of the immense learning curve. (Or at least enough to get you a good start). I will attempt to make this a fantastic resource to learn from but as with everything in life, don't rely on any one thing. Go out, read up, and ask questions.

    What is Mechanical Turk?

    Mechanical Turk is a crowd sourcing platform. Requesters (people who need work done) post HITs (Human Intelligence Task) and then workers (people completing the work) do the HITs. There are no requirements on what you want to earn, how much work you wish to do, or even when you work. The choice is yours.

    How do I start?

    Now to get started you need an Amazon account. You can sign up at mturk.com where you can choose to be a worker and/or requester. Once Amazon approves your application you are ready to work.
    Note: Amazon won't always approve your application. Nobody knows why.

    I have an account. Now what?

    As a new worker on mturk you are under a 10 day probation. During those 10 days you will only be able to complete up to a maximum of 100 accepted HITs (submitted, returned, and expired all count towards an accepted HIT cap). BUT you also need to complete at least 1 HIT to have that day count towards your probation period. When your probationary period is over your cap will be 3,800 accepted HITs per day. Days reset according to the Pacific Time Zone.

    You should also get to know your dashboard. Your dashboard will show you a lot of key information. You can find your worker ID in the upper right portion of the dashboard. You can find information about how much money you have made, how many HITs you have gotten approved and denied as well as what you have done so far today.

    What kind of HITs can I do?

    There are 3 main categories of HITs you can do:

    Batches (Multiple HITs posted in the same group)
    Surveys (Usually surveys put out by academic requesters)
    Transcriptions (You transcribe stuff)

    What are qualifications and how do I get them?

    There are many different qualifications out there. Some require completing a qualification HIT. Others will be auto-granted when you try to request the qualification. Others will require you to take a test. You will also notice the "approved HITs is greater than..." qualification. There are a few different tiers for this.

    500 HITs approved is the basic tier to reach. It will unlock a number of HITs you will now be able to complete.

    1,000 HITs approved is big tier. It will unlock an even greater number of HITs you will be qualified to work on.

    5,000 HITs approved is one of the biggest. Between 1,000 and 5,000 you will unlock majority of the HITs available to complete on mTurk.

    10,000+ HITs approved are more for personal enjoyment rather than use as a qualification. Not many requesters seem to use this one but reaching it will unlock the few straggling HITs you were not previously qualified to do.

    Beware of your "HIT approval rate" qualification as well. The approval rate refers to the number of HITs that have been approved compared to the number of HITs that have been rejected. You always want to keep the number of rejected HITs as low as you possibly can. By far the best method to doing that is to do good honest work for good honest requesters. Now you won't always be able to tell who is a good honest requester and who is trying to scam workers into doing unpaid work but if you take advantage of TurkOpticon and work smart you should do fairly well for yourself.

    What is Masters and how do I get it?

    "Masters are elite groups of Workers who have demonstrated accuracy on specific types of HITs on the Mechanical Turk marketplace. Workers achieve a Masters distinction by consistently completing HITs of a certain type with a high degree of accuracy across a variety of Requesters." - Amazon

    That is as much as anyone knows. Masters opens up additional HITs and removes CAPTCHAs but otherwise does not guarantee better quality work, better requesters, or anything else. While there are plenty of rumors, as far as everyone can tell it appears to be handed out at random.

    As of January 8, 2017 Masters has not appeared to be handed out in over a year.

    What about taxes?

    You're considered an independent contractor and as such you are required to report all self-made income when you file taxes. Please don't take advice from strangers on the internet. Seek out the advice of a tax professional.

    If however you really wish to investigate on your own, more tax related information can be found here. (Credits to @clickhappier )
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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017