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Is Amazon's Mechanical Turk a Failure?


This post draws attention to the ambiguous scoring and large amount of work for a small payoff, among other things.

Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a machine that harnesses the work of hidden humans. It's a service that attempts to match people to small, bite-size units of work that are unsuitable for machines.
As of this writing, there are 128 Human Intelligence Tasks available via the Mechanical Turk task page. The reward for these tasks ranges from $1.00 to $0.10, skewing heavily toward the bottom of that range. Almost 100 of the 128 tasks are $0.10 each. Here's a quick sampling of the available tasks:
    * Transcribe a 9 minute, 2 second podcast ($2.31 w/bonus)
    * Write a review of a blog ($1.00)
    * Make ten 2-3 sentence posts in a fansite forum ($0.50)
    * Write a 2-3 paragraph blog entry ($0.50)
    * Provide 3-D and 4-D ultrasound pictures of your baby ($0.40)
    * Send unsolicited junk faxes from California companies ($0.25)
    * Say 6 phrases in Turkish ($0.10)
    * Write a short plot description of the movie "Black Snake Moan" ($0.10)...

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