Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

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Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) Review

Looking for a flexible way to earn extra cash in your free time? Amazon’s mTurk is an online marketplace that connects businesses with workers willing to complete small tasks in exchange for payment. We signed up to check how easy it really is to earn a quick buck.

What’s the concept?

mTurk is a virtual marketplace that connects businesses with workers, where users can earn points by completing a wide range of paid tasks, including surveys, voice recordings, transcriptions, copywriting, and data entry. By doing so, users are effectively sharing in the revenue generated by the site’s owner, Amazon, which sells crowdsourcing gigs to its clients.

mturk gig

Example of receipt scanning gig through mTurk

As an example, a business in the healthcare sector might use mTurk to conduct surveys aimed at understanding consumer attitudes towards certain treatments or healthcare providers. Meanwhile, a retail company might commission surveys to gather insights into consumer spending habits and preferences for specific products.

The diversity of tasks available on mTurk means that there is something for everyone, regardless of skillset or experience. With flexible working hours and the potential for high earnings, it’s no wonder that mTurk is fast becoming a popular choice for anyone looking to earn some extra cash.

What else than surveys?

In addition to taking standard-only surveys, mTurk also offers clients a cost-efficient way to train advanced machine learning (ML) models. With MTurk, it’s possible to efficiently collect and annotate large amounts of data necessary for training ML models. Additionally, MTurk can facilitate the human-in-the-loop (HITL) approach, where human feedback can help validate and retrain a model.

An example could be to draw virtual bounding boxes to create high-quality datasets for computer vision models that may be too complex for purely mechanical solutions or too extensive for a team of human experts. Other examples include the moderation of web and social media content, the categorization of products or images, and the collection of data from websites or other resources.

How much money can I make on mTurk?

In our experience, the average pay per survey is ranging from $0.02 to $1.00 for a 10-minute survey. Some surveys do offer payment of more than $1, but these are few and far between.

The payment for each survey is determined by the researcher who created it, and it can vary widely depending on the length, complexity and topic of the survey. Some surveys pay very little, such as only $0.05 for a 10-minute survey, which is far below the minimum wage in most countries.

Other researchers make sure the survey reward at least matches the minimum wage in the country they take the survey, or even higher if they want to attract more participants or compensate them for sensitive or difficult questions. However, surveys are not the only type of task that can be found on Amazon Mechanical Turk.

There are also tasks that involve transcription, data entry, image annotation, audio recording, and more. These tasks may pay more than surveys, depending on the skill level and time required to complete them. Therefore, it is important for participants to check the payment and estimated time before accepting a task, and to choose the ones that offer fair compensation for their work.

mturk dashboard

mTurk dashboard with survey opportunities

It’s important to note that the pay for completing tasks on mTurk is usually very low, and most workers do not earn the minimum wage. According to a 2020 study of MTurk by Auer et al. found that workers were particularly vulnerable to exploitation, having low power to negotiate pay. Another 2020 study of MTurk by Aguinis et al. reported that the average hourly wage of workers was $6.19, which is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

The study also suggested that workers’ earnings were influenced by their demographic characteristics, task preferences, and work strategies. Therefore, workers on MTurk face a trade-off between quantity and quality of work, and many struggle to make a decent income from the platform.

mturk payment dispute

Example of a researcher trying to justify paying $1 for a 45-minute survey.

Many researchers are calling for ethical pay of survey takers such as Silberman et al:

“Ethical conduct with respect to research subjects often requires researchers to protect subjects beyond the bare minimum required by law; given the importance of money as a motivation for most crowdworkers, it is ethically appropriate to pay crowdworkers minimum wage.”

If you’re looking to find a side hustle that maximizes your earnings per hour by taking surveys, we recommend taking a look at our list of top-rated survey sites.

How do I get paid on Amazon Turk?

After you complete a task, you need to submit it for approval by the requester (the person or company who posted it). The requester will then review your work and either approve it or reject it. If your work is approved, you will receive the payment in your Amazon Payments account. Workers in the United States can transfer earnings to their Amazon Payments account or to their Amazon.com gift card balance. Workers outside of the United States can transfer earnings to their Amazon.com gift card balance, and some (not all) Workers may be eligible to transfer earnings to their bank accounts.

Additionally, you may have a probation period. It lasts 10 days, 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.

On a positive note, Turkers only need to accumulate $1 before they can withdraw their earnings, which makes it a lot easier to redeem in comparison to most survey sites.

Types of surveys

Most of the surveys featured on mTurk are from 3rd party survey networks such as YourSurveys, Samplicio.us and SpectrumSurveys. In addition to very low incentives, the main downside of taking surveys through survey networks like this is that it’s very hard to qualify. You’ll be asked a number of screening questions again and again in order to qualify, which is a waste of time and a source of frustration. If you end up not qualifying you’ll sometimes get a small compensation such as $0.02.

mturk survey

 

Pros and cons of mTurk

mTurk, Amazon’s online marketplace for crowdsourced work, offers both pros and cons for those considering signing up as a worker.

Positive Aspects

On the positive side, mTurk provides a wide range of earning opportunities, including surveys, data entry, and content creation. The site also offers cash payments and a transparent point system, making it easy for workers to track their earnings.

Moreover, workers can receive frequent survey invitations, providing a steady stream of work for those who qualify. In addition, mTurk’s point system is straightforward, with each task assigned a specific point value, making it easy to understand how much a task is worth.

Negative Aspects

However, there are several downsides to consider as well. For one, the compensation for many tasks is extremely low, with some surveys paying as little as a few cents. Also, the survey providers on mTurk are known to be quick to block accounts, with little transparency or recourse for workers who have been blocked.

Additionally, it can be difficult to qualify for certain tasks, with some requiring specific qualifications or experience. Another negative aspect of mTurk is that most surveys are third-party surveys, meaning that the site’s clients are not always the ones directly responsible for payment.

Finally, technical glitches and issues with payment have been reported, leading to frustration and lost earnings for some workers.

It’s important to note that the compensation for tasks on mTurk varies widely depending on the type and complexity of the task. Some tasks, such as transcription or content creation, may offer higher pay rates than surveys. If you’re serious about earning money through surveys, we recommend checking out our list of top-ranked survey providers instead.

Sources:

Auer, E. M., Behrend, T. S., Collmus, A. B., Landers, R. N., & Miles, A. F. (2021). Pay for performance, satisfaction and retention in longitudinal crowdsourced research. PloS one, 16(1), e0245460. Aguinis, H., Villamor, I., Ramani, R. S., Alabduljader, N., Allen, D., Armstrong, M., … & Bernal-Turnes, P. (2020). MTurk research: Review and recommendations. Journal of Management..By M. S. Silberman, B. Tomlinson, R. LaPlante, J. Ross, L. Irani, A. Zaldivar, Communications of the ACM, March 2018, Vol. 61 No. 3, Pages 39-41 10.1145/3180492

3.3Expert Score
MTurk can be a cost-efficient way for companies to access a large pool of verified users to conduct microtasks, surveys and user testing tasks. However, for the participants, the incentive levels can be disappointingly low and you'll be automatically forwarded from one company to another.
Survey Experience
2.8
Survey Matching
3.4
Incentive Level
1.8
Redeeming Rewards
5
PROS
  • Multiple earning opportunities
  • Low redemption threshold
  • Trustworthy company
CONS
  • Disappointingly low incentive levels
  • Rewards are limited to Amazon vouchers
  • Difficult, very technical user interface
  • Not great at survey matching
  • Lots of redirections from survey to survey

Specification: Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

What can I earn?
Paid Gigs

,

Incentive Level
Payout Threshold
Reward Options
Who should consider joining?
Consumers
How do I get started?
Open Registration
Web Browser
Mobile App
Format
What company is behind this?
Company

Founded

1994

Country

United States

City (HQ)

Seattle

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)
Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)
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