Welcome to Broken Turk...

I started Turking a few months ago, made a quick couple hundred dollars, and then learned how MTurk's system leaves workers too often out in the cold.  The site is not well maintained, and it functions far below Amazon's standards of customer service and user optimization.  A Turker faces seemingly random blocks with little recourse.  Spam tasks are not well screened.  The interface needs basic improvements.  Development is frustratingly slow.  Amazon has heard these criticisms many times over but mysteriously has done little in response.

The point: a company as sophisticated and customer-service oriented as Amazon should pay more attention to its flagship crowdsourcing operation.  MTurk should be nimble and trustworthy.  It should not treat its best workers the same as its worst.  Users should be given the benefit of the doubt, or an opportunity to establish a meaningful reputation.  Site search should be robust.  Task and profit tracking should be personalized and detailed.  The site should be easy and efficient to use, and new features should be added regularly in response to user input.

The purpose of this blog is not to badmouth Mechanical Turk or Amazon.com, but to help them make a better system which will attract more people to use it,
contribute to it, and benefit from it.  Let me know what you think...


  1. Even with piece work in the USA, minimum wage still needs to be enforced. Often times, factory owners will say an employee was not working a specific week, so two weeks of actual piece work makes up one week of pay on the books. This is clear acknowledgement of minimum wage requirements, but unethical behavior on the parts of owners. I'm somewhat pissed that mTurk allows employers to pay very small sums of money for tasks that clearly require more time than they are paying. Seriously, you want someone to click on a face 55 times to create a 3D face render but only pay them $0.20. This is bullshit.

  2. I have over $300 of Mechanical Turk pay in my Amazon account, but I can't get that money to save my life! It's locked up (for ever?) unless I agree to buy something from them. They blame it on my bank. They claim my bank won't accept payments from them. Baloney, they have already made two small payments of less than a dollar to my bank account. The process for depositing money to your own bank requires that your account be verified, but they make you jump through so many hoops that you will be luck if you EVER get your account verified. Once my account WAS verified, they changed their minds and said they could not deposit the money after all! Go figure.

  3. As someone that just started setting up tasks on mturk. I find a huge issue is the lack of documentation and flexibility for new task posters. I also would like to ensure to not get repeat workers for separate tasks, but only to create greater diversity in my sample and not because of poor worker quality. Currently I seem to only have the option of blocking workers, which can be detrimental to them. Amazon customer service is useless to find solutions for this unless you pay a premium for service. Thus, there are issues on both the suppy and demand side of the turk marketplace.

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  5. I just started. On three HITs, I was not able to enter the completion code. Broken, indeed.

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