Mechanical Turk Guide
This is a mirror of https://pastebin.com/eU9wWbjN.
The Mturk Compendium
- 1 A brief introduction
- 2 Payment rates and what to consider
- 3 Applying to Murk
- 4 Getting started
- 5 Scripts, and how to use them
- 6 Additional HIT information
- 7 Tips
- 8 The Philosophy
- 9 An example of some requesters
- 10 In summary
- 11 A word of caution
- 12 Final Thoughts
A brief introduction
Mturk is a service from Amazon that involves completing HITs. HITs stand for Human Intelligence Tasks, and it is what the little jobs that you will be doing are. They are either in two categories: batches, or surveys/individual tasks. Batches are sometimes a few, to in some cases thousands of little mini HIT's that can be done from a requester and may or may not have a "cap" or limit unless they simply run out. Surveys or just individual tasks are a task issued once and are non repeatable by a Requester, aka the person who issues the HIT.
Payment rates and what to consider
A general rate that many workers have agreed upon for a decent payment is roughly 10 cents per minute. So for example a .10 cent batch of HIT's should only take 1 min to do each, and a $1.00 hit should take about 10 minutes. You will even see requester title their HITS with this sort of thing. In the end it is up to you how much you want to get, but rarely do requester pay more although it is not uncommon to either finish a survey faster than that amount of time, or the requester does not know about the rate of pay and provides more.
Applying to Murk
Now that you get what goes on, the first thing you will need to do is apply to work at Mturk. on the application page you will need to fill out some very basic info and a email I think. I did mine over 3 years ago and my memory is terrible but I do remember that I needed to send in a social security number once I got approved and eventually I linked a bank account to my amazon payments. There really is no phone interview or anything like that I've never had to talk to anyone so that was nice.
Here is an important part. I HIGHLY recommend that if you are trying to apply you should have an actual amazon account and do whatever you can to prove you are a real human being! Make an account or make sure it has been created for a while, maybe even buy something or link a debit card, basically do anything you can do or some algorithm does not auto-reject your account. It does say if you get rejected that you can try again at a later point, so maybe re trying with this strategy may help. My account had been around since 2006 and I had bought some things so I think that helped. I must say though this is just my advice and I have still heard of established accounts just not getting approved. I do not know quite why or how the process works since Amazon is fucking weird. A good article to check out for further explanation on this is this guys post from January 17th. http://www.behind-the-enemy-lines.com/
Hopefully at this point you get approved. Now on how to make decent money and make it worth your time! A place to check out is http://www.mturkcrowd.com/. it is a very active forum and it has good info on how to get started. It also has a daily thread where people post good HITs that you can click on. I suggest that you keep this site on a tab, and routinely refresh and check it throughout your workday, since good HITs are posted by people who link what they find, and there is lots of discussion about requester and how the day is going in regards to activity level. Every once in a while a requester by the name of IPsoft will drop by to announce that they are posting a batch, usually anywhere from $10-20 if you are lucky. If you just followed the threads and clicked on the links doing the tasks you will make an easy $10 a day alone. To make decent money you will need to use scripts though to make things easier.
Scripts, and how to use them
I need to add here why scripts are important. You need scripts in order to find HITs fast, because some are only up for seconds as you will find out, and also you will want to use scripts to try and catch HITs you may have missed or to try and grab HITs from popular requesters. I think a lot of the critics of Mturk do not know or realise the power that these add ons have on how much money you can make when used correctly. From what I have read it sounds like they simply tried to work with no addons, failed, then blamed the site instead of figuring out how to work smart, not hard. You do not need any programing experience and setting them up are really quite simple as just adding some chrome addons, and adjusting the parameters and filters.
You will need to use the Chrome browser to do tasks because it is best made for the scripts and I have heard of problems with workers using other browsers such as firefox.
In order for chrome to work at full capacity you need to do a simple edit in the properties. A turker whom writes scripts noticed lately that chrome was throttling the memory useage of the browser and that had an effect on the scripts that run continuously. So to fix that you will need to right click on the chrome icon and go to properties, and from there add the line
like this http://imgur.com/a/M7uUu
This is not too important to do if you are worried for any reason. You can skip it if you want.
Next get an extension called Tampermonkey that allows the scripts to be run on chrome. The two main ones I use are:
JR Panda Crazy
This add on is pretty amazing. Basically if a HIT got posted and you did not click on it fast enough, you were out of luck. Also grabbing batches was tough but this add on changes the game completely. When you run it it cycles collecting the URL codes of the HIT you input until that HIT comes in snags it and puts it into your queue. More about this addon will be explained in great detail later, this is just what you need to get started.
It replaces the main board that you see on Mturk, and sorts and filters to show only the HITS that you want. You can edit it to what you want and it will constantly refresh looking for new HITs. In order to run the script you need to use a specific page which is provided in the details of the installation page.Be sure to bookmark the script page to run this script and also you will need to bookmark and run the JR panda script on its own tab too.
Here is an example of the setting that I use search for HITs with good TO ratings and are for at least $1:
You may want to tinker with the auto-refresh rate from 1 to 3 sec imo. The reward amount you will want to change based on how much you want to work. Most people have it at low at .25 cent or lower, but I am burnt out lately so I just have it set to catch $1 surveys, which there are quite a few of during peak work hours. I have the sound turned on but you don’t need it. Min pay TO I set to 3 but anywhere from around 2.5-3 decent. The TO is basically a review system that fellow turkers have built over the years to rate requesters. The main website of this rating system is here:
Is is built into the Hit scraper addon under TO Pay on the right side near the pay amount. It is based on a 5 point rating. There is also a handly blocking tool you will notice on the left side of the Requester name box. The R button you see will block that requester from showing, and the T button will block any HITs with that title. You will want to block a bunch of requesters to clean it up a bit since most are not worth doing once you first get the script.
Alternatively to HIT scraper is a chrome extension called Mutrk Suite. It is like HIT scraper and also has many other convenient addons all in one package. Many like and choose this addon recently over Hitscaper but I don't like the feel of it. Both do roughly the same thing though.
There are many other scripts that are super useful but these two are the main ones. Here is a screenshot of my Tampermoney extention page to see the addon I use.
The ones turned on I suggest that you grab off of the greasyfork website: https://greasyfork.org/en This website is where you will be downloading the files onto Tampermonkey from.
Additional HIT information
A panda link is basically what it called a HIT that you preview and accept all in one click. When you are using HIT scraper or mturk suite you may notice that by the time you click on a HIT, that it may be gone. This will happen a lot so do not get discouraged. If you did not catch the HIT it will look like this:
You will have a chance to try and get it again by using the JR PANDA crazy script to catch it again if it pops up. On the screenshot you can see a button to send the HIT to PANDA crazy to try and grab in the yellow box. Hitting the Once button in the yellow box will send it to your JR Panda crazy script to try and catch it again if you have it running.
Every HIT has a requester ID, and a Group ID. The group ID is at the very end of the URL line and looks like this:
You can either use a script like I have to send it to the PANDA crazy script, or you can manually copy that string of numbers and letters and add it to a tab if is it a requester or HIT you want to track.
I personally have one monitor setup with Hit Scraper running finding HITS. On a second monitor I have JR panda crazy running. When a task comes up I do it on my main monitor and shift HIT scraper over to my second monitor so that while I'm doing a HIT I can still try and click on new ones that come in. So I recommend that you get two or even more monitors based on if you want to use media or even playing video games while waiting and doing HITs. I have yet to try mturk on a cheap Thinkpad laptop that I just bought, but I will try it soon and I'm even considering using it to monitor and grab HITs while I sleep. It is doable though and lots of forum members use laptops and also set them up as little requester monitoring stations.
Your basic strategy to make a decent amount depends primarily on your level of motivation. It is not hard to make $20 a day on a weekday, and people on the forums from my observations make anywhere from $30-$50. Some even make around $100 day but they have qualifications that some have since closed testing off to.
I want to stress something here: I have heard a lot of bullshit about how much money you can make and that is not worth it, but if you are looking to make some spare money, and are willing to try and make decent money, I can prove that you can make $100-200 a week easy which I know many others would like. Is it as much as a normal paying job? No. Do people factor in that you may need a car, to dedicate hours to and after to prepare for work, to have to buy your own lunch sometimes, to have some of your paycheck go to social security and other various things. If you factor in all of the things that many people do not think about that goes with a normal job, making $40-50 is almost better than a person working some shitty minimum wage job. In regards to taxes yes, if you make over $5k a year you do need to file a tax form as a independent worker I have been told. Amazon will not send you a tax form unless you make a decent amount. There is a sub forum post all about taxes and what to do on the forum that I linked to earlier.
Making decent money is not only dependant to being around at certain hours to catch HITs (around 5am PST to around 5pm PST are the main posting hours) but also to get to know the popular requesters that known to produce the lion's share of money out there. You will see names dropped sometimes in the forums,nicknames of popular requesters. Getting to know these requesters posting times and getting their HIT PANDA links are important. The requester page lists some, but not all of them are posted on that page and most of the ID's are scattered around the daily forum pages. I will provide my current list of my top requesters and the HIT ID's and info about what these tasks are. To use these effectively you will need to create new tabs on the JR panda crazy tab, name it, select add job, and then stick these ID’s under the group ID.
An example of some requesters
This guy posts a HIT in the early morning hours asking you to pick whether 80 stocks on the market will go up or down. It is easy and a nice HIT to start the day. He does not post every day but just keep it on in the morning and you might grab it. This is a once a day HIT.
.80 stock prediction 3BDJRSQX672E4BNA8GZE65XYLD0S8E
The infamous Zoltar
This is a google requester that is legendary among the forums. He posts at around 5:10am PST and posts huge batches until around 7am PST. The cap is around 200 HITs and some are known to get about $25 in that period of time, mainly focused exclusively on doing the .12 cent web evaluations with a handy script that is in my script list screenshot.. I on average get around $15 doing the web evaluations and you can try and grab the others but they usually run out by around 6am or sooner since they are super easy to do and most people prefer them. All I can say is that it is highly worth being awake or around for this guy. Sad to say that he has not posted in over a month as of 3/25/2017 but I am told it is not uncommon for this person to take break and come back. If you are away at this ungodly hour or you are in the east coast, it is still worth throwing it on for a couple hours. This is a HIT you will want to press the Go HAM button on. This will collect as many as possible as they become available.
.20 used car task is 3BVKBPKP93I2R8PUITI99LBFA23IA8 .06 cent plumbing task is 3IE1FJZRADEFSK5DQQPLQ6F80MAK96 .06 cent New car task is 36DWM50OGJQWNGWUY157IKGIRLYKEQ .12 cent website task is 3PBTVBPQ9UI5R0A3PW7WXNE8W4CLGC
Used to be known as "Will" he posts HITs that have you rate youtube videos and are an easy way to make some moneys. He has a cap of 9-10 so you can make $4-5 depending on whether the .40 or the .50 cent one drops. Great thing about this too is that the queue expire time is around 10 HOURS. so you can work on it whenever. This is a Go HAM HIT. Select the button and it will collect up to 10 and stop automatically. You may then want to stop after you collect the cap since 10 is around the daily limit. I can been locked out after 12 and you do NOT want to get locked out of a endor hit, which is what Zoltar, Brian Z, and others are. Project Endor is the Google requester and if you return a HIT from them, you are locked out of all HITs until the HIT would of expired, which for Brian Z can be up to 10 Hours. A script in my screenshot page called “Is this Endor” is helpful in avoiding this.
.50 cent videos: 32JRJ3GOZHDUB4IL9P69OT9S0R9U1L .40 cent videos: 32SRECFMGCDVKOUUB8QJUZSNSC9UT7
C-Sat is a medical company that uses people to rate the skill of a surgeon's performance in their videos (don’t ask why). This requester has tons of HITs ranging from 5 to 10 min videos. I have a few but you will need to research the requester page if you want to try and get all the ones they drop, which is over a dozen of group IDs. I have found that the $1.15 and 1.16 Hits drop commonly and around lunch time PST so I will post those:
1.15 video: 3Q9ARQ9ZBQ8EN8CTRPZ98T4FL6V3MD 1.16 video: 3M4EU2M81Y55Q7SAJJWKZ2QG55Z4PH
This guy posts a weird HIT on words that is easy and you can almost snag one of these once a day for $2.75. His and sometimes others have constantly changing group IDs so check the forums or search them for his PANDA link.
These are my main requesters and whom I keep on my PANDA crazy tabs. They are good for most of my earnings when they drop. There are many, many more but these, and you will end up having around a dozen or more eventually on your JR panda crazy tab. These are my personal favorites whom post almost daily and I am mainly just using them as an example of what requester monitoring looks like.
Like I've said before, the amount you make is mostly dependant on your level of motivation. I've seen some people make insane amounts of money and I've seen some meager results. You will earn around $7 an hour and you must understand you will not be working continuously. You may be at your computer all day and work maybe 3 or 4 of those hours actually doing work. I find that from about 5 to 6am till about 10-11am PST to be pretty busy. Then around 1pm it picks up a bit again and some surveys start to drop then. There are slow periods around winter, spring, and summer break, since some work is provided by colleges. Weekends are usually slow and sometimes there are just dead days. But if you are willing to do these tasks I can assure you that you can make at least $10 a day EASY and once you get to know the good requesters and monitor the forums for good HITs from others, you will easily be able to start earning way more, especially if you start to do the qualification tests that come around.
You may consider to do batch HITs in order to get your numbers up if you are starting with a new account. I personally never did this but it is good advice to hammer out some penny HIts because many requesters will have qualifications that require you to have a couple thousand completed HITs and a good approval rating. This may be a pain in the ass, and certainly you will not be earning decent money because you will be doing penny HIts, but doing penny HIts is a great way to get your completed numbers up fast. This is just an option though, and eventually if you work everyday you will get your numbers completed up. There are tasks that do not require you to have thousands completed and do be careful of certain requesters. There are a few big requesters that are known to reject easily. Jon Brelig is one of them. Stay away from those recipt HITs and be sure to check out Turkoptocon. It is basically a review site of requesters and is even embedded into most of the addons you use. You can through their site even explore and read reviews to see how these people are. Also I suggest to stay away from people with no TO score as I have seen mass rejections before since they are most likely new users and could be sketchy.
A word of caution
Beside staying away from certain notorious requesters like Jon Berlig and others that post shitty receipt HITs, I also advise you to stay away from transcription jobs unless you have some experience with them. Most do not bother with them, and they are difficult unless you know what you are doing. A person who specializes in doing them gave a little Q & A in the forums once where they said you need to do qualifications in order to do the decent paying ones. The pay should also be about 2:1 in ratio of the audio to how long it usually takes. So if you see a job that says to transcribe 1 hour of audio it will usually take 2 hours or more to complete on average. It is best to just stay away from transcription and also any big HITs that you may see. I saw a story of a person doing some huge data entry hit for like $100 that ended up not being done correctly and rejected. Stick to the batches that get posted by forum peoples and do the college surveys and you will make good money.
I hope you enjoy this guide. I have thought about making it for quite some time, and if you follow what is said here you will make a decent amount of money in my opinion. If you are like me, and are used to making zero money this will be pretty much life changing. I was able to buy and build a new computer for the first time in my life, and can now afford various things that I never had money to get. Best of luck.