Now Hiring: Mechanical Turk Project Manager

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If you look on Simplyhired.com, a job site that 4,982,434 listings, and search for “mechanical turk” you’ll find several positions available at Amazon.com, where the Mechanical Turk is one of their most innovative web services, and two other job listings, both in San Francisco, that mention it.

I don’t know how many companies are using Mechanical Turk at this point, but I think it is one of the most amazing tools ever conceived. Here’s an example of how it could be used: Yesterday I showed my staff a book that was published 12 years ago in the genealogy field. It took the author months to compile it. She sent questionnaires to thousands of people to compile the data that she ended up publishing.

Based on our recent experience with Mechanical Turk, we calculated that we could compile the same data in approximately 1 hour for about $80. And then we could publish a similar book or just organize the data and publish it online. Of course there would be some editing and verification and layout required, but the existence of the Turk absolutely changes the information gathering piece. It turns it from a several month project to less than a day.

We also need a list of all the public libraries in the U.S., along with a phone number. Normally I would turn to InfoUSA.com or another mailing list company. But in this case we already found a good list online. But if we hadn’t, we could use the Turk and probably within a day or two have phone numbers for thousands of libraries for our call center to contact.

One of my former BYU students wrote a great blog post about how he used the Turk to conduct a survey on journal keeping and the unanticipated side effect was that 26% of the survey respondents turned into quality leads for his company’s online journaling software.

I won’t go into too many details about how we have used the Turk so far, but it has been so valuable to us that we have created a position (it could be part-time or full-time) for someone who wants to manage our Mechanical Turk projects and help us utilize this system to gather and organize genealogical and historical content from around the world.

Since we are located 1 block from the campus of Brigham Young University, I’m hoping to attract a student in Information Systems or Computer Science, who also has an interest in history, GIS, or genealogy.

The pay will be $12-15 per hour DOE, but the experience will be invaluable.

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6 Responses

  1. Check-out the new “reCAPTCHA” service that is getting people to do these tasks for free-> http://recaptcha.net Estimates are that about 60 million CAPTCHAs are completed every day (just as I am having to complete a CAPTCHA to post this reply – which stands for Completely Automated Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart). By using image snippets that give bad OCR results instead of a random character string, POOF! you get all your digitized content edited for free! BRILLIANT!

  2. Thanks for sharing the info about MTurk. I was not familiar with it and there seems to be a great amount of things someone could do with this. I was a little suprised at how low the prices were for some of the projects, mostly podcast transcript work. I would bet that the marketing community could really take advantage of this.

    The API is very interesting as well. Do you mind sharing what you plan on doing with that access? If not no worries, thanks for letting me know, this is pretty cool.

  3. Hi Paul,
    Are you using HIT-Builder for your HITs? I thought I saw some stuff up there regarding Ancestory. We offer turnkey services that use the Turk. We also program service web sites that use the Turk for backend processing.


  4. Pyxlin » Blog Archive » “Journaling Jar&#8

    […] Turk to create my prompts. I have used MTurk before for surveys and I know others who have used Mturk in clever ways as well. I am just asking each MTurker to write 5 journal prompts and then I pay them $0.05 for […]

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