Mechanical Turk gives people a new way to work or find workers online. The site is designed to streamline the process of freelancer and client finding one another. Through Mechanical Turk, individuals and companies that need tasks done can submit a HIT or Human Intelligence task. All they have to do is fund the job, submit the task then wait for a worker to do it. On the other end of that transaction, the workers can locate HITs. Once they find one they want to do, they complete the work, submit it and collect payment. The process is relatively simple.Show more screenshots »
Mechanical Turk was created in August of 2007 as a part of Amazon.com. The tool was intended to act as a crowd sourcing service. By tapping into a large pool of workers and individuals that need tasks done, Mechanical Turk was able to help both parties find one another to make progress and earn money. The site is primarily intended to help companies and professionals whittle away at large scale projects. For example, a project that requires the tagging of thousands or millions of images could be posted to Mechanical Turk so that the collective manpower of the group can tackle the project and get it done much faster.
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is not a standard freelancer website. The site is intended to help with large projects that have a lot of volume. Anyone that has ever dealt with a project of this scale knows that it can be difficult to find a team of people that can get it done quickly. Mechanical Turk lets users tap into the power of many to get the job done. Meanwhile, the workers are given another opportunity to make money by helping out with a manageable portion of the enormous project they otherwise could not have taken on alone.
Mechanical Turk uses a bright blue and yellow color scheme to make it easy for visitors to learn more about the process and how to use it. The site contains many Amazon-esque elements, such as rounded yellow buttons and the renowned Amazon logo on the page. Mechanical Turk itself is well organized and easy to navigate so users can get started to get a project finished or make a few bucks online.
Mechanical Turk is a part of Amazon.com, so naturally the user should have an Amazon account to get started. Those who do not already have an account with Amazon can visit Amazon’s homepage to create one. The process begins by clicking the small blue “start here:” link at the top of the homepage. The user is asked to enter a valid email address, then check the “no” radio button when the site asks for a password. After continuing, the user can fill out the registration form which requests a password and full name.
The cost of Mechanical Turk really depends on the user. Those going in as a worker are actually trying to earn money. No fees are required, an the funds earned are deposited into the user’s Amazon payments account. Amazon does not currently list any fees taken from the individual posting the HITs, but it seems that there likely would be a fee of some sort for this service. Either way, the biggest financial cost will be the amount the user agrees to spend for each HIT they list.
Mechanical Turk is ideal for anyone that has a high volume project they need completed quickly. The site taps into the collective power of a group rather than hiring out projects to one or two individuals. Although whether or not quality and timely completion are issues remains to be seen, a lot probably depends on the type of work and timeframe it needs to be completed in.