1. What exactly is a turker?
- A poor soul, who works tooth and nail for pennies doing hits (human intelligence tasks) on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
- Data sanitation engineers. Yes, it’s exactly as exciting as it sounds.
- A diverse and somewhat unstable group of workers who are adept at swiftly working on a broad variety of odds-and-ends tasks.
- A sucker.
<Not to be confused with the delicious bird, though slightly related.>
2. What does a turker do on an average day?
The turker dreads the first rays of morning light as it brings another day of working for pennies. The turker begrudgingly gets up and downs at least two cups of coffee before sighing and sitting down at the computer. As the computer boots up, he thinks about his life and where exactly things went wrong. He questions his poor life choices that led him here. He swiftly puts those thoughts out of his mind, as he boots up all his turking tools and settles into work for the day. Much of the turker’s day is actually spent waiting around for hits to drop. Every day is hit or miss and the turker never knows how he will fare on any given day. He prays to the turker gods, hoping that something, anything will drop. He spends his day filling out overly long and underpaid surveys, with the occasional MTC break to complain about how slow it is or gripe about not having a particular “closed qual”. Sometimes a high paying batch will drop, but that’s usually the 10 minutes the turker decides to unglue his ass from the computer and grab some food and/or shower. If the turker works full time, he will continue this routine of despair for the rest of the day, until he finally gives up. As soon as the turker lays his weary head down to bed, he will hear the taunting alert of a juicy batch that just dropped. He hops out of bed, but it’s already gone. So it goes.
3. Is there a special set of skills I need?
Desperation, mainly. A bottomless supply of emotional numbness, and the ability to do the same type of task a thousands of times over for a few bucks. Other helpful skills include: patience (like an extreme amount of patience), the ability to turn on a computer, dog-like hearing for all those hit alerts, a crazy amount of luck and good timing to catch those juicy batches, low standards, sitting glued to your computer all day, a quick finger, and a bladder of steel.
4. What are hits? Is that something to do with mafia?
The term HIT is an acronym that is supposed to stand for “Human Intelligence Task”. However, it would be far more accurate if HIT stood for Hatred Inducing Tedium. Even more accurate would be Self-Hatred Inducing Tedium, but that doesn’t result in a very flattering acronym. If these were Mafia hits, they would surely be more lucrative. Instead of getting paid a lot to kill someone else, we’re getting paid very little while slowly dying on the inside. In actuality, the official Amazon corporate line is that HITs are “Human Intelligence Tasks”. This means that hits can only be completed by humans and not computers. That’s what sets this type of work apart. Or so they say...
5. I saw some people mention surgery videos, what is this? Are we training to be doctors, because that would be so cool!
Yes, we are surgeons in training. We have been offered a shortcut to do prostate and hysterectomy surgeries through Amazon MTurk. After 100 C-Sats, you get the “Totally a Surgeon” qualification. It’s much cheaper than med school. Unfortunately, the license only allows you to run a limited practice out of Wyoming, South Dakota and some parts of Rhode Island.
6. Is there a dress code or uniform I need to buy?
One of the biggest perks about working on Amazon Mechanical Turk is that there is no Human Resources Department, so clothing is strictly optional! Depending on the turker, this can also be one of the biggest downsides.
7. Who do I submit my work schedule availability to? I want to make sure the turking supervisor gives me some hours.
The best part about turking is that you can work whenever and wherever you want. They are always looking for HITs to be completed 24/7, 365. This is also one of the downsides. Turking can be super addicting and you never know when something good will post so you might end up glued to your computer into the wee hours. You submit your work schedule to Nobody! Isn’t that great!? No, it’s not! On one hand, you don’t report to anybody, but on the other hand, nobody will ensure that you actually have work to do either. It’s a decentralized, high-tech, crowd-based feeding frenzy! Welcome to the future.
8. Do we have co-workers? Will it be noisy?
You don’t have co-workers, persay, since you will be working from home. However, there is one superior turking forum, MTC, which you can join. MTC is filled with helpful turkers and a handful of crazies. They can help you pass the downtime with arguments on pizza toppings, random panda gifs, and posts waxing on the essential essence of a hoodie. If it gets too distracting, you can always press ignore
. Which, getting back to the lack of a Human Resources Department, is actually a blessing when you consider that one of the other workers is a jabroni who calls himself PeachRider.
9. What is your favorite part of turking?
Getting paid without having to leave my house - it’s far too bright out there. Clicking on the “Transfer Earnings” button at the end of each day and knowing that by doing so, I am one small step closer towards carrying out my ultimate plan of global domination.
10. What do you least enjoy about turking?
The truth is the pay is low. Like, depressingly low. That’s why we all hate it whenever there’s that one turker on the forums claiming they just made $300 in 2 hours. Of course when you ask them which batch, their reply is, “Oh, it’s a closed-qual batch!”
11. Anything I should avoid doing? I don’t want to make a bad impression!
In all seriousness though, only work for hits that pay a decent rate. Remember, this is your livelihood and you will have to determine your worth. There are good requesters out there, you just have to find them. Once you do, never let go - I’m talking stage 5 clinger status here. Oh, and if you opt to do hundreds of ScoutIts , you best keep that nonsense on the down-low.