How You Can Use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to Outsource Your Context


RobotMechanical Turk is not a rock band or a repair shop in Istanbul. It is Amazon’s way of helping business deal with the growing cost of having employees. Expenses need to be under control in a highly competitive global market. The company that can effectively outsource context is going to be able to get the service needed without breaking a budget. Amazon Mechanical Turk provides an excellent option you can use to get better control of personnel cost, in addition to getting projects completed before the deadline.

Outperforming a Computer

This may come as a shock to some, but computers really cannot do everything. Certain tasks require human intelligence and intuition. These traits plus a unique set of business skills might not be present in your existing workforce, or your employees already have too much on their plate. Not to worry, thanks to Amazon Mechanical Turk. This Amazon service operates in fairly much the same way as a freelance website, sending a job proposal or request out to an enormous pool of talent t. It can be either project or single task oriented. Those looking for help, referred to as Requesters, will pay for work satisfactorily completed. Mechanical Turk has some key terms as part of its working dictionary. These include:

• Requester. That is, you as the company looking for assistance. You will be using Amazon Mechanical Turk to submit assignments needing completion. These may last no more than a few seconds in some cases
• Human Intelligence Task (HIT). The term defines the task or tasks that the Requester(s) will do. They are the kind of duties which a computer has a difficult time doing and requires the human touch. It can be reviews, opinion pieces, or some other information not readily provided by a computer.
• Worker. The individual who will be doing the HIT. It can happen several Workers are going to be working on a given HIT.
• Master. These are the real experts who provide superior results on a routine basis. They are the upper tier of the Workers.
• Assignment. This is a combination of granting the HIT and setting a timer. A Worker gets the right to work on the Assignment until the designated time expires. The Assignment will indicate the allotted time span.


The time a company uses a Worker is going to vary. It is not out of the question that the Worker may only be working for a couple of minutes at the most or even a couple seconds for a simple cognitive task. That is no problem if the HIT requires proofreading or writing a fast jingle. Mechanical Turk is used for the following types of projects:
1. Categorization.
2. Data Cleansing.
3. Creation of Content as well as Monitoring It.
4. Business Feedback.
5. Sentiment.
6. Tagging.

What is the Benefit?
First of all, the reason for outsourcing must be understood. It is not something that you do on a whim. Daily tasks that are currently done by employees do not need to be outsourced at all. In fact, some core responsibilities must stay in-house to protect intellectual property. A company is going to outsource context because of cost in money and time and the fact that context by its definition is something which is not your core ability. Many companies choose to outsource remedial tasks and sometimes even customer service because these tasks are not what they are good at or what sets them apart from others. Consultants are going to charge a very high fee, and hiring a new employee takes time and recruiting dollars. You may have neither to spare. Cost-containment is a reason for using Mechanical Turk for short term assignments instead of temporary employment agencies.

Transcription of receipts is very popular.

Mechanical Turk also takes into consideration how the workplace has changed along with competition. As regulations that restrict companies drop, what used to be quiet sectors such as financial services have become wild with activity. Social media marketing can turn on the right phrases utilized in a Twitter tweet. Companies cannot just rely on their staff, but reach out into the labor pools to find people with unique skills and original ideas. Some tasks are practically tailor made for the Amazon Mechanical Turk, such as:

• Survey Work. Completing surveys are no longer anything an undergraduate has any interest in doing. Mechanical Turk will allow anyone doing consumer research to get a target population within a matter of a few minutes from the Mechanical Turk Workers pool.

• Review. These do not have to be lengthy at all. In fact, some HITs are not much more than a picture with a request for Worker(s) to rate it. Such a review is an example of a task which is possible to do in a few seconds. Several companies use Mechanical Turk to go through all reported images and see if they comply with terms of service.

• Software Development. A given computer application may need human help such as analysis or evaluation of objects. These are not things that can easily be done by any computer or machine. Humans do it best. Mechanical Turk allows access to those people who can provide finishing touches requiring thought reasoning to an application.

Doing the Needful
In most situations Workers are required to help with some mundane tasks that come up. Categorizing information or translating audio messages into foreign language texts is almost impossible for a computer to perform. A Worker has no problem doing either.

Critics may question whether Mechanical Turk is worthwhile for a Worker. The rate is almost ridiculously low, a few pennies per assignment, but the tasks involved will require just a few seconds or minutes. A Worker can make some money working with Mechanical Turk, especially a freelancer who has good time management skills. A HIT posted is not going to go unnoticed very long.

As a Requester, you can determine the time limit on any given HIT. It allows a Requester the ability to more efficiently manage the amount of time for a given task. As mentioned earlier, the beauty of Mechanical Turk lies in the capacity to outsource various parts of the whole to a large project. It is the delegation of responsibility, if you will, of those minor tasks which may not be overly complicated but are quite time-consuming. The Workers in Mechanical Turk will perform the small tasks, allowing the company to have its key employees focus on core matters. A small or medium-size company is going to find this very advantageous.

A Few Drawbacks
Mechanical Turk is not perfect just like everything else in this world. There are a few things that you need to do if you’re going to be outsourcing context. These caveats are pretty much along the lines of common sense. You can think of them as reminders not to rush in blindly, even though Mechanical Turk has some far-reaching advantages.

1. Develop the Request Carefully. You can have some Workers engaged in a given project, but there is no guarantee there will be a consensus of outcomes. Furthermore, Workers might not understand the task assigned, and that can lead to significant time spent on in-house reviews of completed work. Be certain that the instructions are clear, and any misconceptions are dealt with immediately.

2. You Should Be Selective. You may want to use Mechanical Turk for more than one HIT after you get started. It is possible to develop a desired pool of Workers based on their performance. You can do that, and it is a superb idea. You can utilize MTurk Masters, or concentrate on the HIT approval rates of the Workers whom you have used. Communication with your chosen band of Workers is going to be essential. It can be a two-way street where Workers come up with ideas you can use later.

3. Keep Your Eye on the Cost. Yes, Mechanical Turk can be less expensive than a full-time employee, but the HITs can get addictive. The cost can gradually increase as you become more accustomed to using Mechanical Turk. Be sure that you are paying a fair price for what you are asking. Workers are willing to provide their services for less than the going rate, but nobody gives anything away for free.

4. Reputation. Workers receive a score for work they have done, but the Requester also gets a rating from the Workers. You have to careful. Turkopticon is a review site for Requesters, and if you consistently get low scores registered, it may result in better-skilled Workers not bothering to deal with you.

The Mechanical Turk is a very scalable tool. A company can start out with a few small projects, and gradually use Mechanical Turk on increasingly larger efforts which require some minor tasks. You should make certain that all of the requirements of a given HIT are well thought out, and communicated accurately to the workers. Additionally, the opportunity to develop a pool of Master Workers, people whom you can rely on for later work, is going to increase the return on any investment. Mechanical Turk recognizes the complexity of the modern workplace. Those tasks which computers cannot handle, and existing staff has no time to perform, can easily be managed by freelancers who welcome the opportunity to make a little extra money.

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