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Amazon's Mechanical Turk

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the no-one-in-the-box dept.

The Internet 375

rscoggin writes "Amazon.com has a new program that wants you to 'Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it.' (example: 'Is there a pizza parlour in this photograph?'). For each task you complete you get a small payment, usually ranging from a few cents to a little under a dollar. It's named the Amazon Mechanical Turk after a famous hoax from the 19th century. Kill time and get paid in tiny increments to boot!" Similar to Google Answers, there seems to be a reliability ratings system and some incentives.

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Great... (5, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949400)

Great... Another way for /.'ers to waste time at work.
GOOD JOB AMAZON

frist post! (-1, Offtopic)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949443)

Oh, and frist post.
I totally rock because my frist post wasn't completely
gay and useless like hundreds of other frist posts.

I actually suspect the number would be in the thousands,
but google thinks otherwise http://www.google.com/search?q="frist post" site:slashdot.org [google.com]

Oh wait... its spelled first post?
shit
Google for "first post" [google.com]
16,100 results does seem a bit more reasonable

Re:frist post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949745)

16,100 results does seem a bit more reasonable

CONGRATULATIONS! You must feel like a champ making a immature attempt in gaining a first post and winning! I would give you extra bonus points but you then bragged about your accomplishment and was modded "Offtopic" for acting like a PFY around 14 years old.

However, I deeply regret to inform you that Google will not list results for your everyday "First Post" as most "First Post"s are modded to hell for containing meaningless information. Google's bot will only see Slashdot as an anonymous user would and, by default, anonymous visiters to the site do not see posts modded into oblivion. This means that fortunatly for you, your "First Post" will show in Google while your idiotic ramblings and brags of your "First Post" will not. Be sure to have your friends and family (girls who are friends are not girlfriends) log in anonymously to view your amazing achievement so as to where you will not be ridiculed for your following childish post.

Thanks for playing "Slashdot: First Post" and be sure to not come back again.

Re:Great... (5, Funny)

phase_9 (909592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949559)

News just in, people getting paid to look at webpages they're not meant to at work! In unrelated news, slashdot hits drop off...

Micropayment mercenary (2, Funny)

mrseigen (518390) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949406)

This could get addictive.

CAPTCHAs (3, Interesting)

CableModemSniper (556285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949410)

Does this mean I can get paid for breaking CAPTCHAs?

Re:CAPTCHAs (5, Informative)

Agelmar (205181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949427)

Actually, yes. The whole motivation from this came from the same person who invented the CAPTCHA, and was explained in his thesis defense on Wednesday. Abstract for those who care:

Subject: Thesis Oral - Luis von Ahn

November 2, 2005
Luis von Ahn
12:00 PM, 3305 Newell-Simon Hall
Thesis Oral
Title: Human Computation

Abstract:

Tasks like image recognition are trivial for humans, but continue to
challenge even the most sophisticated computer programs. This thesis
introduces a paradigm for utilizing human processing power to solve
problems that computers cannot yet solve. Traditional approaches to
solving such problems focus on improving software. I advocate a novel
approach: constructively channel human brainpower using computer games.
For example, the ESP Game, introduced in this thesis, is an enjoyable
online game -- many people play over 40 hours a week -- and when people
play, they help label images on the Web with descriptive keywords. These
keywords can be used to significantly improve the accuracy of image
search. People play the game not because they want to help, but because
they enjoy it.

I introduce three other examples of games with a purpose: Peekaboom,
which helps determine the location of objects in images, Phetch, which
collects paragraph descriptions of arbitrary images to help
accessibility of the Web, and Verbosity, which collects common-sense
knowledge. I also show that, in principle, every problem that could be
solved by a computer, today or in the future, could be solved using
enjoyable computer games.

In addition, I introduce CAPTCHAs, automated tests that humans can pass
but computer programs cannot. CAPTCHAs take advantage of human
processing power in order to differentiate humans from computers, an
ability that has important applications in practice.

The results of this thesis are currently in use by hundreds of Web sites
and companies around the world, and some of the games presented here
have been played by over 100,000 people. Practical applications of this
work include improvements in problems such as: image search,
adult-content filtering, spam, common-sense reasoning, computer vision,
accessibility, and security in general.

Thesis Committee:
Manuel Blum, Chair
Takeo Kanade
Michael Reiter
Josh Benaloh, Microsoft Research
Jitendra Malik, University of California, Berkeley

Re:CAPTCHAs (1)

mattyohe (517995) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949778)

Why not make a program that captures the CAPTCHA image on slashdot and uploads it on a webserver for people to read it and enter the text and then that information is sent back to a robot trying to post and then voila!

i can see it already... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949415)

- can you see boobs in the picture ?
- Is there a donkey in the picture ?
- Can you see the can of whipped cream ?
- is there chocolate paint involved..

Advanced indexing of Pr0n, humanity is moving forward, no doubt.

They probably patented it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949452)

That way probably works to prevent cheating due to the fact that multiple people can verify it, and you can get rid of known cheaters (though that's a bit Stalinist).

I'd go with telling people to write keywords about the images based on some rules/criteria. "ancient building, square windows, desert" etc. cause the questioning approach takes too long. Unless you do a blend of both .. questions to categorize and then add keywords .. or vice versa.

Knowing amazon they've patented this .. even though it's a known technique etc.

Re:i can see it already... (1)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949556)

I think autopr0n is prior art.

This could be brilliant. (5, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949436)

Pepsi pays Amazon 3 cents for product placement. You are shown an image of a Pepsi can. "What kind of soda is this?" "pepsi", you answer. You get paid 2 cents.

Re:This could be brilliant. (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949485)

I think that qualifies as a business method. start filing those patent papers quick

Re:This could be brilliant. (3, Funny)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949553)

Even better would be if there were pictures of people enjoying pepsi with the same question and answer as you gave and then they also had ugly people drinking coke and cringing, etc. with the same question, but new answer, "coke."

Re:This could be brilliant. (1)

Astatine210 (528456) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949737)

Ah, but would you still get paid if you replied with, say, "Generic Cola", "Ceci N'est Pas Un Cola" or "Sugar, Caramel & Battery Acid"?

Re:This could be brilliant. (1)

borawjm (747876) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949781)

Amazone pays you 2 cents but then charges you 3 cents to click on the link that leads to the picture.

So this is going mainstream now... (4, Informative)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949439)

According to this earlier Slashdot report [slashdot.org] , the spam industry has been doing this for awhile with free porn.

I'm curious to know if Amazon is going to use the cumulative results to try to "train" computers, or if it really is just for the money. The requirements include being over 18, so you can't pimp your kids to click through this stuff for cash (though I'm sure it will happen).

Doesn't pay enough (5, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949440)

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that it's not really worth it. Consider the following task, for example:

Your task is to create a new product description for a product in the Amazon.com Automotive catalogue. The Product Description provides an additional opportunity to tell the customer about the product. This HIT will require some product research to complete. Approval depends on following the instructions and the quality of your submission, determined by a manual review.

Guess how much you get paid for that. 2 dollars? 3? That wouldn't be unreasonable, I think, considering that you're supposed to write an entire product description from scratch for which additional "research" is required. The actual amount paid is only 65 cents, though.

Maybe it's just me, but if I check to see how much I need to work in my regular job to make 65 cents, then it does not make any sense to invest more than a few minutes into a task like this, and it seems that it would take more than that to actually complete it. The fact that there's a review required afterwards doesn't exactly make things better, either - if what you did gets rejected, then you've essentially worked for nothing (I wonder if there's anything that keeps amazon from still using your description in this case, too...).

In other words, the whole thing seems like a good idea in theory, but it won't really take off until they're willing to actually pay you a reasonable amount.

Re:Doesn't pay enough (2, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949460)

Just do it AT work. Get paid twice.

Re:Doesn't pay enough (1)

manno (848709) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949507)

I was about to post exactly this, this thing is the greatest scam going. I'm impressed with Amazon, this is a damn good way to save money, instead of hiring a pro. This is ingenious their paying outsourced labor wages to native English speaking Americans. Replacing a position that they either had to pay 25-30k to a college grad for. Or paid some stenography service per word for. It's frigging brilliant. P. T. Barnum holds true as ever.

-manno

What about federal labor laws? (1)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949679)

$5.15 minimum wage and all that. Is Amazon breaking the law by paying people 65 cents for work that obviously takes more than 60*(.65/5.15) minutes?

Re:Doesn't pay enough (1)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949820)

This is ingenious their paying outsourced labor wages to native English speaking Americans.

I see nothing to indicate that only us wealthy gringos can participate. I haven’t yet checked out the payment end of it, but I would assume that it will eventually be a worldwide thing, making it a nice, level, globalized playing field.

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is left as an exercise to the reader.

Re:Doesn't pay enough (1)

wpiman (739077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949512)

It isn't worth it for you- maybe not for me- but for someone in a third world country it could definitely be worth their time. This is just another example of globalism.

Re:Doesn't pay enough (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949524)

Maybe it's not your idea of worthy pay, but in some parts of the world it might be pretty darn good pay for the time to do the task.

Just imagine setting up a sweatshop in some 3rd world country, invest enough training to get people doing well, then get them going, pay them part and keep some portion of each item reward for "the company".

You know someone will do this...

Re:Doesn't pay enough (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949637)

That was my thought as well. "Write a product description, research required" seems to me that .65 (or less in some cases) is... piddly?

Re:Doesn't pay enough (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949665)

Maybe it's just me, but if I check to see how much I need to work in my regular job to make 65 cents, then it does not make any sense to invest more than a few minutes into a task like this, and it seems that it would take more than that to actually complete it.

Ah, but I think you miss the point. How much to you get paid for a couple minutes at your regular job? Add 65 cents to that, and that's how much you'll get paid at your normal job to slack off and surf Amazon.

Re:Doesn't pay enough (2, Insightful)

iphayd (170761) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949673)

Not to mention that this is the type of thing a copywriter at a marketing firm gets big bucks to do, so essentially you are doing their job for free for Amazon.

Re:Doesn't pay enough (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949703)

I agree. The jobs that really are trivial pay nothing and the ones that pay aren't at all trivial. 65 cents or 75 cents isn't nearly enough for what they are asking.

Market based? (1)

wren337 (182018) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949835)

I don't know if all of the tasks are going to be from Amazon. It looks to me like anyone can submit "work" through the API, and the market will decide what gets done and what does not. If that 65 cent job sits long enough, and Amazon wants to get it done, they'll pony up more cash until someone thinks it's worthwhile.

$/hr (2, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949441)

Anyone want to make an estimation of $/hr earned doing this? I'm at work, and don't have the balls to spend 20 minutes earning cash online ;)

Re:$/hr (4, Informative)

yellowbkpk (890493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949474)

I did nine 3-cent HITs in about 5 or 6 minutes, so that's about 3.25/hour. The lag for me was in waiting for the images to download and clicking on the "Accept HIT" button repeatedly.

There is an API, maybe if someone made a page that just displays the images and sends in the result when you click on the image instead of having to click twice for each HIT, you could go faster and make much more money.

Re:$/hr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949621)

Damn! $3.25 an hour, you say? I should be able to retire on my earnings in about, ummmm, 300 years... : /

Re:$/hr (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949550)

At $0.03 cents/hit, you'll want to aim for around 5 sec/hit to earn about $20/hr.

If it takes you more than 10 or 15 seconds from the instant you read the description for a hit to the instant you are available to read the description for the next hit after successfully completing the first one, it's not really worth your time (at least, IMHO).

3 cents for 1 hours work? (4, Funny)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949442)

Wow, I can give up my day job!

Re:3 cents for 1 hours work? (0)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949464)

Read closer. The task may pay 3 cents, and you have a one hour limit, but it generally will not take more than a couple minutes. I don't have exact numbers, but it probably is worth less than McD's assistant fry vat job.

Re:3 cents for 1 hours work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949799)

even if it took 1 minute you're only going to make $1.80 an hour.

Sounds interesting but.... (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949445)

I'm a bit too paranoid to type my Amazon user name and password into a site that isn't on the main amazon.com domain....I can't find it mentioned anywhere on amazon's main site. Can somebody a little bit less of a wuss tell me if it is legit?

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (5, Informative)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949471)

Well, mturk.amazon.com [amazon.com] redirects you to www.mturk.com [mturk.com] ... seems to imply something.

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949497)

http://mturk.amazon.com/ [amazon.com] redirects to it

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949516)

I'd be careful. A whois lookup reveals mechturk1@hotmail.com as the contact address. Why would Amazon use hotmail?

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949544)

Google for "MTAI inc" only turns up this one result:
www.dkpto.dk/publikationer/tidender/ugeliste0542_2 31005.pdf
Google for "PO Box 80626" 98108 Seattle Washington pulled up this:
http://www.usaexporters.net/companyprofile.asp?cat ID=10260 [usaexporters.net]

Registrant:
MTAI, Inc.

P.O. Box 80626
Seattle, Washington 98108
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com (http://www.godaddy.com/ [godaddy.com]
Domain Name: MTURK.COM
Created on: 22-Oct-01
Expires on: 22-Oct-06
Last Updated on: 11-Oct-05

Administrative Contact:
Hostmaster, MTAI mechturk1@hotmail.com
MTAI, Inc.
P.O. Box 80626
Seattle, Washington 98108
United States
2065794562

Technical Contact:
Hostmaster, MTAI mechturk1@hotmail.com
MTAI, Inc.
P.O. Box 80626
Seattle, Washington 98108
United States
2065794562

Hotmail? They registered with a hotmail account.
That strikes me as incredibly unprofessional.

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

benito27uk (646600) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949723)

The press button also goes to a page that's not on amazon.com, even if it say's it is on the browser header:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060 &p=irol-InfoReq [corporate-ir.net]

another redirect (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949843)

If you cut off the phoenix.zhtml crap, the base url redirects to http://www.ccbn.com/ [ccbn.com]

It seems like the company does investor relations,
hence the corporate-ir (investor relations)

I wouldn't worry too much about this, if its good enough for EarthLink [corporate-ir.net] its good enough for me

btw- how did you convince /. not to display the site's domain name after the link in your post?
same link but /. inserts domain name
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060 &p=irol-InfoReq [corporate-ir.net]

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (4, Informative)

stefanb (21140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949561)

I'm a bit too paranoid to type my Amazon user name and password into a site that isn't on the main amazon.com domain

The whois info looks a bit dodgy. I would have expected Amazon knew how to properly register domains...

Registrant:
MTAI, Inc.
P.O. Box 80626
Seattle, Washington 98108
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com
Domain Name: MTURK.COM
Created on: 22-Oct-01
Expires on: 22-Oct-06
Last Updated on: 11-Oct-05

Administrative Contact:
Hostmaster, MTAI mechturk1@hotmail.com
MTAI, Inc.
P.O. Box 80626
Seattle, Washington 98108
United States
2065794562 Fax --
Technical Contact:
Hostmaster, MTAI mechturk1@hotmail.com
MTAI, Inc.
P.O. Box 80626
Seattle, Washington 98108
United States
2065794562 Fax --

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949795)

Yeah, the hotmail contact address is just plain wrong.

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

droptone (798379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949566)

Whois Data

mturk.com

The data contained in Go Daddy Software, Inc.'s WhoIs database,
while believed by the company to be reliable, is provided "as is"
with no guarantee or warranties regarding its accuracy. This
information is provided for the sole purpose of assisting you
in obtaining information about domain name registration records.
Any use of this data for any other purpose is expressly forbidden without the prior written
permission of Go Daddy Software, Inc. By submitting an inquiry,
you agree to these terms of usage and limitations of warranty. In particular,
you agree not to use this data to allow, enable, or otherwise make possible,
dissemination or collection of this data, in part or in its entirety, for any
purpose, such as the transmission of unsolicited advertising and
and solicitations of any kind, including spam. You further agree
not to use this data to enable high volume, automated or robotic electronic
processes designed to collect or compile this data for any purpose,
including mining this data for your own personal or commercial purposes.

Please note: the registrant of the domain name is specified
in the "registrant" field. In most cases, Go Daddy Software, Inc.
is not the registrant of domain names listed in this database.

Registrant:
      MTAI, Inc.
      P.O. Box 80626
      Seattle, Washington 98108
      United States

      Registered through: GoDaddy.com
      Domain Name: MTURK.COM
            Created on: 22-Oct-01
            Expires on: 22-Oct-06
            Last Updated on: 11-Oct-05

      Administrative Contact:
            Hostmaster, MTAI mechturk1@hotmail.com
            MTAI, Inc.
            P.O. Box 80626
            Seattle, Washington 98108
            United States
            2065794562 Fax --
      Technical Contact:
            Hostmaster, MTAI mechturk1@hotmail.com
            MTAI, Inc.
            P.O. Box 80626
            Seattle, Washington 98108
            United States
            2065794562 Fax --

      Domain servers in listed order:
            PDNS1.ULTRADNS.NET
            PDNS2.ULTRADNS.NET
            PDNS3.ULTRADNS.ORG
            PDNS4.ULTRADNS.ORG
            PDNS5.ULTRADNS.INFO
            PDNS6.ULTRADNS.CO.UK

              The previous information has been obtained either directly from the registrant or a registrar of the domain name other than Network Solutions. Network Solutions, therefore, does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

                  Show underlying registry data for this record

Current Registrar: GO DADDY SOFTWARE, INC.
IP Address: 207.171.163.60 (ARIN & RIPE IP search)
IP Location: US(UNITED STATES)-WASHINGTON-SEATTLE
Record Type: Domain Name
Server Type: Apache 1
Lock Status: REGISTRAR-LOCK
Web Site Status: Parked
DMOZ no listings
Y! Directory: see listings
Web Site Title: Amazon Mechanical Turk - Welcome
Secure: No
E-commerce: No
Traffic Ranking: Not available
Data as of: 14-Jun-2005

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949618)

Godaddy registered site with hotmail contact address=phishing.

Slashdot got phished?

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

ingsocsoc (807544) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949593)

Want proof that it's not legit? We've slashdotted it. Yeah, that doesn't really happen to a big site such as Amazon.

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (5, Informative)

droptone (798379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949626)

Amazon has a page [amazon.com] on their site about MTurk

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (2, Informative)

bibi-pov (819943) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949629)

When you try to login, the login page is amazon's genuine page sitting on https://www.amazon.com./ [www.amazon.com] You can verify for yourself but there's nothing phishy here (pun intended). I have to admit the whois record is not very enticing though.

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

pliftkl (872367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949704)

I'm especially paranoid about typing in my account information when the web browser address page reads "https", but the browser doesn't seem to be in SSL mode. Anytime you log in to your Amazon account, you can verify that you are logging into Amazon by checking the certificate of the web site and ensuring that it is legit. On the Turk website, there's no certificate to back up the SSL claim...

Re:Sounds interesting but.... (1)

Janacek (925490) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949709)

Does this inspire confidence: from whois on mturk.com "Hostmaster, MTAI mechturk1@hotmail.com" and a post office box in Seattle? ;)

How long until some sick slashdotter posts the ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949459)

following HIT: "Is there a goat in that picture?"

Do what?!? (1)

Viraptor (898832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949462)

Maybe I'm not getting the idea right, but isn't it a work for a person skilled, for example, in marketing and adv. to make up descriptions for products? Or if it's a product, that doesn't require a special advertising description, can't it be done by person who spends about the same time to write an ad about that?

The Future of Surveillance (2, Insightful)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949473)

Crime in your neighborhood?

Get a webcam...

Contracting work worth big bucks (4, Insightful)

Silverhammer (13644) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949480)

After a quick review of the available tasks, I must say this looks like a huge scam. Most of the tasks are marketing oriented (e.g. copywriting, photo manipulation), for which experienced contractors get paid $30 to $50 per hour.

Only 75 cents to research and write a complete automotive product description? Are they kidding? Sure, they say I can copy the description from the manufacturer's Web site, but my time is still worth more than that. Besides, I think it's the responsibility of the manufacturer to make sure their Amazon listing is correct. That's how they do it on IMDB.

I can only hope the program will make more sense as they add more requesters and more tasks.

Re:Contracting work worth big bucks (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949582)

I think it's the responsibility of the manufacturer to make sure their Amazon listing is correct. That's how they do it on IMDB.

Which, by the way, is owned by Amazon.

Re:Contracting work worth big bucks (2, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949630)

So, don't do it.

Most of the ones I saw were trivial tasks. Even the auto description was edit the auto description until it was human readable. Since they are trivial, people get bored doing them. The common solution has been to over-pay someone to do them, and have the pay offset their boredom. This interface provides a new idea: let people do them until they get bored, and pay them by the piece.

If your time is truly worth more, don't do them. But there are people who will find it an interesting diversion for a few minutes, and they get paid a bit for it. All in all, not a bad extension of the free market.

I smell burning gears (0, Redundant)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949495)

Apparently mturk's webserver is from the 19th Century as well.

Good idea but for work required it should pay more (3, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949499)

They are asking you to rewrite product descriptions and will pay you 60 cents?
Not only will the work most likely be shoddy, but it seems like they are trying to replace someone else's job by using this cheap online service.
Yes, for some it may provide rewards but if you calculate the amount of time spent on each item VS. the payment reward (usually a few pennies) it is just not worth someone's free time.
Why don't they just hire a staff of people to work on these 'HITS'?

Willing to compete with the Indians? (4, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949500)

I'm interested to know if those living overseas can participate. If so, they would drive down the labor costs so much that only truly desperate Americans would participate in this piecework scheme.

Re:Willing to compete with the Indians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949724)

While I can see the opportunity for cost savings if this work was outsourced to more reasonable labor prices, the reality is that you might view this as a possible future wave for American labor. At the risk of trolling, it seems as if America produces more sit-down-and-click culture than other nations, so Amazon is smart to simiply tap the largest natural labor pool. Plus, that frees up the previously-ignored millions of competent, intelligent persons overseas to step up a level and join the technologically spoile^H^H^H^H^H^Helite in helping shape the future.

none of the above (1)

rayde (738949) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949503)

i'm finding a bunch of these storefront pictures as being horrible pictures... perhaps they're testing the reliability of the system here?

for example, the storefront that is being asked about might be cut off completely, showing instead the entirety of the neighboring store. This might be the "best" photo, however, it would NOT be what the requesting storefront would be looking for. If people consistently chose the nicest photo as opposed to the one that most closely matches the request, i think this system will be proven invalid.

Re:none of the above (1)

droptone (798379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949523)

That's exactly what I've been noticing. The majority of the tasks I've completed have contained no worthwhile photos, and especially none I would want representing any business.

Re:none of the above (1)

yellowbkpk (890493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949527)

They're not asking for a photography judge here, they're asking for you to pick the best image of the storefront in question. If the storefront isn't there, then you choose "None of the Above" and move on to the next one.

Will the real mechanical turk please stand up.... (1)

geek42 (592158) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949510)

How long until someone makes a series of bots smart enough to make money at this?

Re:Will the real mechanical turk please stand up.. (1)

Agelmar (205181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949535)

That would actually be a good thing. The whole point is that this is a "hard" AI problem (And I use "hard" in the AI sense of the word, which is much stricter than the english meaning of "hard"). If the problem is solved, it would be a huge advance for artificial intelligence.

Re:Will the real mechanical turk please stand up.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949690)

You're thinking too much, which in your case unfortunately makes your reply look like you didn't think at all.

You were supposed to infer that the "bot" would just "christmas tree" the forms, filling in random answers.

Lousy payscale. (0, Troll)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949526)

I doubt most people's time is worth that little.

Re:Lousy payscale. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949662)

In third world countries, it could be. The unemployment compensation is u$50 a month in Argentina, so every penny counts.

Re:Lousy payscale. (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949750)

You have a good point, so I'm not sure you were modded down (I know other people said the same thing, but still). The question is, do those people who have computers and decent high speed internet access in Argentina need the money, or just the average poor guy on the street?

Re:Lousy payscale. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949740)

You don't work where I do.

Artificial artificial intelligence... Heh (1)

ankura (769374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949529)

Reminds me of spammer CAPTCHA solvers...

More here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captcha#Circumvention [wikipedia.org]

Re:Artificial artificial intelligence... Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949701)

You linked to a page (the wiki) that has a link to a page (http://sam.zoy.org/pwntcha/ [zoy.org] ) with Goatse on it, (thankfully?) distorted for use as an image captcha.

This is clearly an example of the Stealth Goatse - well played.

Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949532)

I was wondering why it suddenly slammed to a halt. Gee, thanks, Slashdot.

Profit? (5, Interesting)

DevolvingSpud (774770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949534)

Since this is all web-services driven, it seems to me you could create an interesting cycle with a simple program:

1) Use the API to find a HIT, and sign up to complete it.
2) Create a new HIT that basically asks someone to complete the first HIT,
      only for $0.01 less than the original HIT was offering.
3) Do this for every existing HIT.
4) Profit?

Re:Profit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949695)

Sure, until someone writes a program that answers the HITS in decending order of pay. Then your fscked.

What is your time worth? (4, Insightful)

shoolz (752000) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949548)

Rather than think about how much you could make per hour on this, think about how much your time is worth. Are you worth $65,000 per year? Maybe you're worth more or you value your time more? In any case, at $65,000 per year, you make about $0.52 per minute.

So to accomplish the 3 cent task and make your time worth it, you should spend no more than about 2 and a half seconds from the second you begin to the second you finish and get approval.

On some of the higher paying ones, oh, say $0.40 for writing a full product review, you could devote almost a full minute!

Do A9's Dirty Work For Them (2, Informative)

MaceyHW (832021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949564)

Acutally, all the tasks that I saw involved processing data for A9's block-level search and "tour". [wired.com] Seems like a clever, cheap way to organize the insane amount of data they have mapped for this project.

In the other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949590)

India's economy sky-rockets as the unemployment rate drops below zero percent...

slowness (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949598)

It looks like the site is having a hard time putting up with its slashdotting session. that can mean one of 2 things.

It is hosted on a really slow server
They are using IIS

Reverse auction (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949603)

Increase the value of the job till it's worth someone's while to actually do it. Everyone benefits. Any rejected work remains owned by author.

Philip K. Dick (5, Interesting)

baxissimo (135512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949651)

The reminds me of the Philip K. Dick novel in which the main character thinks he lives an ordinary life, and who solves the daily puzzle in the newspaper every day for cheap entertainment. In reality, though, the whole town he lives in is a front, and the fun puzzles he's solving in the newspaper are actually cleverly disguised military strategy problems of some sort.

Quick -- someone patent that storyline and sue Amazon for infringement!

Re:Philip K. Dick (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949813)

Title?

Ad Copy Copies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13949664)

Ad copy is something that many online retailers (such as myself) find important. I spend quite a lot of time writing a product description for my products. It might take 20-30 minutes to do the research and write something good enough to get the product to sell.

So what happens if your product scores well in Google.. well, people just copy your ad copy. And since Google hates duplicates, it will eliminate all except one page from the results. And very often that can be the original page. And yes, I have had Amazon copy my product descriptions, even with properly paid staff.

So what's likely to happen here is that some takes on a task of writing a series of product descriptions. But for less than a dollar per description, they're just going to be tempted to copy-and-paste from someone else. Now, Google is always likely to assume that Amazon originated the content, and drop the actual originator from the index.

Net result? Well, DMCA complaints being filed, lawyers and other unpleasantness.. simply because it's not worth anybody's time to write a product description from scratch for less than a buck.

My feeling is that $5-$10 is probably the base value of these sort of things, plus some proper quality control management. As it is, it looks like a cost-cutting exercise that could backfire hugely.

Japanese manuals? (3, Funny)

Crouty (912387) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949667)

Wow, I can't wait to unleash my grammar nazi skills on the automated translations of japanese manuals of electronic devices!

Keep them coming, Amazon!

Learning from experience (1)

dmccarty (152630) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949674)

Very smart...someone is keeping tabs on these things. At the top of the Wikipedea page:

This article has recently been linked from Slashdot [slashdot.org] .
Please keep an eye on the page history [wikipedia.org] for errors or vandalism.

Highly suspectful site. Do NOT give any detail (4, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949676)

Guys, let me tell.

It's registered through Godaddy.com, one of the companies spammers/phishers love to use.

It has hotmail contact addresses in whois. Impossible for a company like Amazon

No clue of such thing on official Amazon press room
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060 &p=irol-news [corporate-ir.net]

So if it looks like,acts like,runs like (amazon gigantic server farm slashdotted?) a regular phishing site, it is. Even if it made to Slashdot. I'd say pull the story until Amazon comes up with an explanation. Before any harm done.

It could be even a more "elite" hack including subdomain/DNS hacking. I am a spamcop mail customer and I see amazing things everyday.

In risk of looking very funny if it is not anything above, happily posting it.

Re:Highly suspectful site. Do NOT give any detail (2, Informative)

Number13 (641387) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949783)

Either the phishers already have access to my account information under Amazon (including mailing address and the unique fake name I gave Amazon), or it's actually connected to Amazon's database.

Re:Highly suspectful site. Do NOT give any detail (3, Informative)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949805)

It's hosted on 207.171.166.182 which is part of Amazon's netblock of 207.171.160.0 - 207.171.191.255.

Anyhow, I tried it. It recognised me and new my address. It's Amazon alright.

As McEnroe said, "You can not be serious"... (2, Funny)

DataCannibal (181369) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949680)

or as we used to say in the UK, "Pull the other one, it's get bells on"

Or as I say today, "40 cents for a product description!?!?! Fuck off!"

Agent Smith, is that you? (5, Funny)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949706)

I hope you all can see where this is going:

  • 2005: Amazon introduces Mechanical Turk program. Thousands of underpaid geeks sign up and start clicking mindlessly.
  • 2010: Home catheterization and feeding tube kit eliminates need to leave workstation. Productivity skyrockets.
  • 2015: Direct neural interface improves response times one million-fold.
  • 2020: The Matrix

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Re:Agent Smith, is that you? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949827)

Let me be the first to say...

Repent! The Singularity is upon us!

Or something like that... Truth be told I could do my job from home if the technological infrastructure could support.

wow - getting paid for this! (1)

sprocketonline (787811) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949714)

Stop the gripe about the pay. $0.03 is better than nothing. Now all we have to do is link it up to RateMyVomit.com [ratemyvomit.com] or HotOrNot.com [hotornot.com] !
If millions of people are happy to spend hours of their life rating pictures for free on these websites, then getting a few cents to rate some equally meaningless pictures is good pay.

Enough with job interviews that get your ideas... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949721)

Your task is to edit an existing Automotive product title to make it more human readable and update and add additional feature points about the product. This HIT will require some research to complete. Approval depends on the quality of your title and feature points, determined by a manual review.

So, they get a lot of results and they do not approve anyone of them because the quality is not enough. And they get the job done uh?

Yeah, sure... where do I sign... *sigh*

Good to know (1)

Explorador (627887) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949760)

It is good to know that us humans are still not obsolete, even though we have been relegated to the menial jobs...

Not linked off of amazon.com, possible phishing? (1)

webappsec (854813) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949762)

This isn't linked off of www.amazon.com this could be a phishing scam......
- webappsec
Web Security [cgisecurity.com]

Sweatshop of the future? (2, Interesting)

YoFadosa (689978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949792)

Are the 3rd world drones that will do this pulling themselves up by their bootstraps into the information age or is this some kind of futuristic Dickensian sweatshop where piecemeal work is paid at three cents a click?

automating this (4, Interesting)

mboedick (543717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13949821)

For the image ones, couldn't you create 5 bots each with a different account and each one picks a different image and one picks None of these? One of them would be approved and you'd get paid, right?

Also if they are having humans approve your image selection before you get paid, isn't that as much effort as you making your original choice?

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