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Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs)

Human Intelligence Task (HIT)

Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) are mTurk's name for the micro tasks Requesters post on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform. On the new worker website they're known as "Projects."

Daily Limit

During the 10 day (or 30 for some foreign workers) probationary period the daily limit is 100 HITs. Once probation is over the limit is raised to 3,800 HITs per day.

The limit is calculated by the total number of HITs accepted - not submitted. This means that returned and abandoned HITs are counted toward the daily limit for all accounts (probationary or not).

Daily limits are reset every 24 hours at 3AM EST, 12AM PST.

Interacting with HITs

Default mTurk HIT Capsule

There are many ways to interact with HITs on the mTurk platform.

Legacy mTurk.com


TermExplanation
Group / Group IDHITs posted to mTurk are grouped together by a 30 character alpha-numeric ID. Group ID's (GID) are always uppercase and attempting to visit a link with a lowercase character will return an Invalid URL Parameters error.
PreviewBy default on the legacy website Turkers can only preview a HIT before accepting it.
AcceptTurkers can directly accept a HIT by using the PandA (previewandaccept) version of a link.
HoardHoarding is a term used to refer to applying an auto-refresh to a PandA link. This allows turkers to accept multiple HITs in a batch in quick succession without having to manually interact with the HIT links.
PandAPandA is shorthand for "Preview and Accept". By default mTurk links to hits in a preview format, by changing it to "previewandacept" it will automatically accept the HIT instead of just previewing it.
PanthASome users claim to have success accepting "throttled" HITs by using a "preview and then accept" method. Instead of replacing the preview with "previewandaccept" they simply reload the preview link and when the HIT finally displays a script will click the "Accept" button on the page.
By default the legacy mTurk website will only allow workers to preview a HIT with a link displaying "View a HIT in this group.
Preview, Accept, and Hoard Script
HIT Capsule modified by the Preview, Accept, and Hoard script.


By installing the Preview, Accept and Hoard script the HIT capsule will display extra links to directly accept HITs without previewing them first.

Worker.mTurk.com

Worker.mTurk.com HIT Capsule includes an Accept link by default.


TermExplanation
ProjectsHITs are known as "Projects" on the new worker website. It is likely changed due to the fact that they are named this on the requester dashboard for both mTurk websites.
PreviewThis link has the same functionality as the "View a HIT in this group" link on the legacy website, allowing a worker to preview the HIT before deciding if they want to work on the task or not.
Accept & WorkThe worker.mTurk website offers a direct accept link by default so third party scripts aren't required to enable this functionality.

HIT Queue

The mTurk Queue is where accepted HITs will be placed for completion.

Queue Sort Options

Sorting options allow a worker to control how the HITs in their queue are ordered, giving workers the ability to work directly from queue to increase efficiency.

Time Left (least first): This will sort HITs in your queue by the amount of time left before the HITs expire with the closest to expiring at the top.
Time Left (most first): This will sort HITs in your queue by the amount of time left before the HITs expire with the closest to expiring at the bottom.
Assigned On (earliest first): This will sort the queue with the most recently accepted HITs at the top.
Assigned On (latest first): This will sort the queue with the most recently accept HITs at the bottom.

Queue Maximum HIT Limit

Currently the maximum number of HITs a worker may accept at any one time is 25.

Common HITs

The type of work available on mTurk is nearly limitless. However, many basic types of work can be categorized into a few different types. Workers should familiarize themselves with some of the more popular types of work on the platform to see what they enjoy working on and are most proficient at.

While HITs aren't segregated by the work involved it is usually easy to identify what type of work is involved through the title or description of a HIT.

Surveys

Example of the default survey HIT setup.

Surveys are some of the most popular HITs on mTurk for new workers. They're generally straightforward to accept and complete and have higher than average reward amounts which draws new worker attention. This does not mean they always offer the best hourly wage.
Most surveys will not be completed in the HIT window, instead they'll link to one of the major survey platforms to complete the survey and generate a completion code which will be submitted in the HIT window to prove the worker successfully completed the survey.

Qualtrics is one of the most popular choices for academic requesters.
Survey Monkey is another platform that is popular among a variety of requesters.
TurkPrime
TurkPrime is a platform that offers requesters a lot of flexibility with pre-screening workers. There has been some debate on the ethical usage of data collected by TurkPrime and workers should be careful to fill out demographic questions with them accurately.
While surveys aren't completed on the TurkPrime website it is still closely associated with those HITs.
Many surveys begin by having workers consent to participating in research. For academic researchers usually IRB (Internal Review Board) information will be listed. This information should be saved in case a problem arises with the HIT, survey, or payment after completion.
Attention Checks
In order to ensure good data is being collected attention checks are often placed at random intervals throughout a survey. These range from recalling previous parts of the survey to simple questions that have an obvious or known answer.

Attention check questions and their placement should never be shared between workers as it can lower the quality of data a requester is able to collect.
Completion Codes
Most surveys will be hosted on a separate platform and once completed will give the worker a code to enter into the HIT frame for submission. Sometimes, however, the survey will simply ask you to submit your worker ID.

Missing completion codes are a common problem, where either a completion code isn't given or the worker misses it for one reason or another as they're finishing up the survey. In most cases its advised to contact the requester and ask for further guidance when time permits. Many workers will simply submit their worker ID and then contact the requester to explain the issue if time is about to expire on the HIT. While in most cases a positive resolution can be reached this does open the worker up to a possible rejection and should be used with caution.

Transcription

Transcription tasks involve taking a piece of audio/visual media and transcribing audio content. Transcription work requires fast typing and high accuracy in order to make a good hourly wage.

Batches

Batch work is a broad term applied to a large variety of HITs. Usually for a HIT to be considered a batch there must be more than 1 HIT available and individual workers should be allowed to complete multiple HITs within the batch. In contrast most surveys may only be completed once and the survey will not change between workers.

Common examples of HITs that are likely to be batches include anything related to data entry, image moderation or classification, sentiment analysis, and product categorization.
Cherry Picking
Cherry picking is a term often used when talking about batches that are only profitable if a Turker picks out the easy individual HITs from the batch and returning or skipping over ones with more work or higher completion time. Some workers and requesters frown on this practice as it usually leaves the worst work to more "honest" workers or leave some work to never be completed.
Batch Throttling
In Summer 2016 mTurk began throttling batches that had a large number of workers attempting to accept HITs from them at once. Despite a batch having a large number (even thousands) of remaining HITs workers may see the "There are no HITs in this group available to you at the moment." error. Usually continuing to refresh the PandA will result in more HITs being accepted once the batch is no longer throttled.

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