I’ve been using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to get vast quantities of work done quickly and cheaply over the past several months. The tool has evolved from it’s earlier days, and many people I’ve spoken with have outdated ideas about what the tool can help you achieve. It’s not the easiest tool in the world to use (like Fiverr.com), but if you know how to start out the right way, your chances of success are greatly improved. Here are my tips on how to use mTurk for the first time to easily get quality results.
Set Reasonable Expectations for Yourself on the First Pass
Expect that your first mTurk HIT request probably won’t be completed perfectly the first time. You really have to test your ability to write clear, concise directions; see what you get back and then refine. Don’t spend too much $ on the first test, because you may have to do it a couple times.
Avoid combining too many tasks in a single HIT request.
For example, if your job requires someone to go to Google, search for a keyword, and then enter data into a spreadsheet AND then cross-reference that data against another resource, that combination of multiple tasks might be enough to slow down the mTurk worker (aka “turk”), confuse them, or just generally lead to lower quality.
Specifically, here’s what you should do:
- BREAK OUT jobs into specific tasks and SEPARATE the tasks as unique HITs.
- CREATE numbered bullets for each micro-task within each HIT.
- USE all-caps on the action words.
- PROVIDE examples of each step successfully executed.
This is the basic approach I’ve used for hundreds of successful mTurk HITs, and the benefits are:
- More accurate / better quality work
- Faster results
- Happier Turks that are eager to work with you again (and at lower rates)
Eric W. Kratzer, founder and CEO of Open Run Studios, an internet agency specializing in Online Marketing, Branding, Strategy and Production for the Performing Arts, approached me to help his team accelerate their new business prospecting process and reduce their marketing research costs. After implementing my suggestions regarding their initial mTurk HIT, Eric said:
Ian…I took your advice and broke our original [HIT] into two steps. I ran the first HIT last night and it was ready for me by this morning. It looks like it came out perfectly on the first go! The average wage was $1.21/hour on our first project and $.52/hour on our second.. Thank you so much for inspiring us with your own mTurk experience and advice!
What Tips Would You Suggest on How to Set-Up Effective mTurk HITs?