Editor’s Note: Today’s post is part of our Worker Corner series featuring insights, advice and experiences from Mechanical Turk Workers. We’ve invited Jeremy Lesh, a Master Worker, to share a few thoughts on how he approaches HIT selection – valuable insight for Requesters looking to engage Workers, as well as Workers looking to optimize for efficiency.
How I Discovered Mechanical Turk
In 2010, while searching online for “ways to make extra income,” I found a blog post about Mechanical Turk. I signed up as a Worker and was quickly making money doing a variety of small tasks, such as finding phone numbers and addresses online. I was fascinated by the possibility of earning money anytime, from virtually anywhere.
By the spring of 2012, I was regularly contributing to a variety of HITs posted by Requesters on Mechanical Turk, including photo moderation HITs from Adult Image Review, data categorization HITs from Readabl and survey HITs from top academic institutions. Steadily, I began to develop a group of Requesters for whom I would work when their HITs were available.
Working Smart and Picking the Right HITs
With more than 180,000 Assignments under my belt to date, I’ve developed several strategies for maximizing my efficiency – and subsequently, my earnings – the most important of which is HIT selection. Here are three key factors I consider when reviewing HITs:
- My past experience working for the Requester;
- How well the Requester pays relative to other HITs available in the marketplace – I only accept HITs I feel are fairly priced; and
- How quickly the Requester approves or rejects HITs, along with my level of confidence that my submissions will be approved.
Typically, I prioritize my favorite Requesters first. This is in part because I have a relationship with the Requester and know what to expect from them, but also because I’m able to become more efficient over time as I gain practice on their HITs.
Since I earned my Masters Qualification, I also tend to focus on HITs that require the Masters. Or even better, HITs that use the Categorization App because of the efficient design of the task interface. I enjoy research surveys as well, which are often amongst the highest paying HITs in the marketplace.
Occasionally, I consider HITs from new Requesters. However, before accepting a HIT, I check the Requester’s Turkopticon rating – assuming it’s available. Many Workers use Turkopticon, a third-party service that aggregates Workers’ reviews of Requesters, to gauge reputation for communication, generosity, fairness and promptness in payment. If I see a high volume of relatively low Requester ratings, I typically will pass over the Requester’s HITs – in fact, I often encourage Requesters to create a Worker account and monitor their ratings and feedback using the Turkopticon application.
Here are a handful of some of my personal favorite Requesters and a bit on why I prioritize their HITs:
- Two Lakes Research typically is one of the fastest-approving categorization Requesters.
- William Letson and Matt Park both require Masters and provide simple categorization HITs along with fair and quick approvals.
- Coman Petre also requires Masters and is the highest rated Requester according to Worker reviews on Turkopticon. This Requester also approves quickly and offers HITs that many Workers find enjoyable.
- Set Master Account offers very simple Yes/No HITs and typically pays within 24 hours.
This list of Requesters is not exhaustive; I also recommend CastingWords or SpeechInk to Workers who are interested in transcription HITs and Crowdsource’s writing and editing HITs, which tend to require more skill and more creativity. To Requesters, I recommend taking a look at some of the Requesters listed above, perhaps even attempting a few of their HITs first-hand, to get a sense of some of the features that make these HITs appealing to Workers.
About the Author: Jeremy Lesh, a Master Worker based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has completed more than 180,000 assignments with an approval rate of over 99%.