Spamgirl the superhero

The mark of a mature system, whether in politics or technology, is that it doesn't require special pleading.  It works as designed; you don't have to call your congressman, or start a blog, or go see Spamgirl.  Who is Spamgirl?  Don't be fooled, her name is ironic.  She's the supermoderator at the forums and when the ban-monster strikes, she is the only one who can fix it.  Seriously.  Listen to Spamgirl:
  • "Listen, I emailed them... it takes days to get a response, they're kind of inundated with this sort of thing. We just have to wait and see."  link
Spamgirl has received so many please-help-me emails that she put instructions on how to deal with it on top of the Turker Nation forum.  Banning complaints happen all of the time and generally, no one cares.  Sure, some of the blocks are warranted.  But I really have to ask about the system that Amazon has set up to handle complaints.  It looks something like this:
  1. Do a bunch of hits
  2. Get an email notifying you your account has been suspended
  3. Email Amazon in a panic
  4. Get a canned response that you were blocked too many times
  5. Email the requesters who blocked you
  6. Find out it was a mistake
  7. Go tell Amazon
  8. Get canned response that Amazon doesn't interfere between Turkers and Requesters
  9. Go ask requester to contact Amazon directly
  10. Wait, wait, wait
  11. Go get Spamgirl
Seriously, this is what happens daily over at  Does it mean that no one deserves it?  Of course not.  But on a completely anonymous site where thousands of workers are completing thousands of tasks, you would think that Amazon would make it a little easier to deal with these kinds of issues.  After all, it only takes 3 requesters blocking you to be permanently banned from the site.  Much of the time, the blocks are accidents or misunderstandings.  But recourse is slim and next to impossible.  Unless you have superpowers.

Unaffiliated with any blog, site, forum, Turker, poster... as always.


  1. LOL! Thanks, I think :) We do have to have *some* consideration for the other side of the coin - hundreds of accounts are suspended every week, and 99.9% of them are total douchebags. Amazon does care about workers, but (and this is just my perception of the situation) they're totally overworked and underpaid at mTurk. I have a feeling they keep taking funds from mTurk and they're sort of left high and dry as far as staffing is concerned. I think we're lucky that they listen to me at all :)

  2. No, thank you. I'm sure it's an ugly world on the other side, too. But there's really no excuse for a system which doesn't privilege it's best users--or at least protect them from the typical frustrations.

    It seems pretty clear that there are ways which would let Amazon handle blocks and bans which wouldn't step on the good toes. You're probably right about them being underfunded, but when you slap your name on something, and it gets hailed as the future of global employment, the bar is pretty high, and I don't think they're meeting it. As I hope is clear, Amazon will fix this problem when they decide it benefits them to do so, or costs them too much to not.

    Meanwhile, we are lucky they listen to you. The question is, despite your ardent advocacy, why should your position exist at all. I think you know what I mean. You do great work that ideally shouldn't need to be done at all.