The Mechanical Turk: Getting Stuff Done

I just found out about this cool site the other day, called the Mechanical Turk. The site is named for a machine some guy made a long time ago, dubbed the Mechanical Turk. The machine could apparently play chess, quite well in fact. Except after quite a lot of publicity etc etc the secret got out of the bag that it was in fact a little guy inside the machine who happened to be quite good at chess. Surprise Surprise!

So what does that have to do with mturk.com? Well, basically, mturk lets people get inside the machine. People post things on there that seem almost mindless sometimes. For example: does this picture match this description? Yes or No? Any human that is half awake can probably tell you in a heartbeat whether or not it does. However, it is very hard to get a computer to do that. Hence the person in the machine. So on Mechanical Turk you can accept these strange jobs, and get paid a set rate for them. Now, before you go and get all excited on me… let me just say the standard rate is measured in pennies… not dollars! The task I just mentioned would likely bring 1 penny for 1 match.

That is all from the perspective of the worker (or Turker, as they like to call themselves!). Now lets look at it from the perspective of the requester. Think of something you’d like to get done done and pay very little for!

Would you like to get a whole bunch of articles written for cheap cheap? I just submitted a “hit” to get 20 articles written on digital picture frames at a staggering rate of 25 cents each! I’ve got one back so far… it isn’t the most amazing thing you will ever read, but it is sincere and I can definitely use it as filler text somewhere on one of my site’s pages.

Another idea could be getting Turkers to bookmark your site on social networking sites… Del.icio.us, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Propeller, etc. Pay them a penny for the job, while driving traffic and rankings for your site!

Have a blog you’re trying to promote? You can pay people pennies to come and leave comments, which helps give your blog the impression of being a bustle of activity (no, I’ve not paid for comments here, and won’t =).

Why not go over to mturk.com and check out what people are looking to get done? You might be surprised how cheaply you can get the same things done!

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