Milestone 2 AltaMira

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Revision as of 20:54, 11 March 2015 by Rohitnistala (Talk | contribs) (Do Needfinding by Browsing MTurk-related forums, blogs, Reddit, etc)

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Alta Mira Milestone 2 Submission:

Attend a Panel to Hear from Workers and Requesters

We attended Panel 2 at 6pm PST. here are some of our observations:


- A lot of the work (apparently up to 50%) comes from academic sources.

- The group of workers we were talking to were involved in academic studies and chose tasks in the higher bracket (not the lower $0.01 HITs)

- Workers work varies, many HITs come between 7am and 4pm, some workers prefer to work during their off time, some work during regular hours.

- Workers do not treat MTurk or freelancing only as a source of income. In a 1:1 converstaion, I was told you need to have strong financial skills to make freelancing a full time job. If you have a mortgage, this is probably not the best route.

- Workers hours are highy variable, sometimes they make a lot of money, sometimes they don't. They have to balance it out over weeks.

- Skills are not well measured on MTurk and they donot like the qualification system.

- Rejection percentages (whether they are employed by requestors or not) are a cause of concern/grief for workers.


- Requesters generally don't reject work due to a fear of backlash on forums, the high level of impact each rejection has on a worker. They are more likely to accept even bad work to avoid what happens if they reject.

- In the words of 2 long term requesters, rejection system in MTurk especially is broken, it is not a system that requesters use and it does not quantify what they expect from workers.

- Approval rate is one of the most commonly used qualifications for a HIT.

- Like the idea of micro tasks and using it to create a gold standard.

- Don't prefer Master's qualifications becuase it costs more, is hard to get and doesn't always offer better results.

- Finding the right person for a task is not congruent with how MTurk's system. The system does not have a good way to deliver the right workers.


- Regardless of the system, oDesk, MTurk all have very high user ratings, oDesk which counts rejection rates less severely still has an avg user rating of 4.5/5

Reading Others' Insights

Worker perspective: Being a Turker, TurkOpticon, Plea to Amazon

1) What observations about workers can you draw from the readings? Include any that may be are strongly implied but not explicit.

- Majority of Turkers have low income < $10k

- Small numbers of most active turkers do most of the tasks (3,011–8,582 of the 15,059 and 42,912 even though reported number is 500k)

- Pay is a significant motivating factor for turkers

- (Implied) Pay rates are low on MTurk so there could be other reasons people are on MTurk

- Turkers use TurkerNation to find out about the best and worst Requesters, this is also the most popular part of the site.

- Turkers primarily do HITs because they like them

- There is a significant difference between the motivations of US and Indian turkers. In the US turkers don't make that much, they make about minimum wage at best. In India, however, this would be a good income.

- A lot of turkers live hand to mouth and it is used as a source of "additional income" instead of primary income.

- Ethics matter for turkers, they want to work on tasks they are valued at that match their skills.

- Turkers use forums heavily to find the best requesters to work for (and also point out bad requesters), these forums tend to be a problem for reqeusters.

- Amazon's payment methods are a cause for concern on MTurk, the payment cycles allow employers 30 days to evaluate and pay for work.

- Generally MTurk is heavily biased towards requesters.

- Worker reputation system is broken (as mentioned above), it is too easy to game the system and penalties are too severe for low ratings.

- UI needs a reboot, more ways to sort HITs, categorize HITs, have a way of predicting completion times.

Requester perspective: Crowdsourcing User Studies with Mechanical Turk, The Need for Standardization in Crowdsourcing, Plea to Amazon

2) What observations about requesters can you draw from the readings? Include any that may be are strongly implied but not explicit.

- Amazon deliberately favors Requesters over works on MTurk.

- Requesters don't have a reputation system they can manage on Amazon. Reputation is derived from forums like Turker Nation using tools like TurkOpticon.

- Requesters write positive reviews for themselves on forum sites.

- Requesters incur low costs in using MTurk, compared to small user studies which can cost much higher.

- Not knowing the user base is an advantage and disadvantage on MTurk.

- There is widespread gaming of the system with uninformative responses and having verifiable parts of tasks makes the system less susceptible to gaming.

- Response rates are very fast on MTurkf for taks that don't include verification.

- UI: It is too difficult to post tasks and sometimes requires hiring developers to get the task to show up correctly and has to be built from scratch.

- Repuatation system for workers is broken, everything that exists right now completion %, qualifications, approval rate are easy to game.

Do Needfinding by Browsing MTurk-related forums, blogs, Reddit, etc

Many of the questions regarding a better crowdsourcing platform have already been posted by crowd researchers. These are some of the takeaways from their replies.

Reddit forum for requesters

- Need an easy to use way to figure out how much HITs will cost them (MTurk shows it to them in the final screen but surprisingly this question popped up many times)

- Need an easy way to estimate the body of work x-amount of money will buy eg below:

""" [–](redacted)[S] 1 point 6 months ago

You must pre-pay for your HITs Could you estimate how many surveys $500 would get me?

[–](redacted) 8 points 6 months ago

It depends how long the survey is expected to take (have several friends/coworkers unfamiliar with the survey test it for you to figure this out) and how fairly you pay for the workers' time. For example, if you decide the survey can be reasonably expected to take no more than 10 minutes to complete, and you decide to pay $0.15 per minute, then you would pay Turkers $1.50 per completed HIT assignment, and $0.15 for the 10% fee to MTurk, for a total of $1.65 per completed HIT assignment. $500 divided by $1.65 equals about 303, so with that budget, you could afford to pay 300 people to take your survey in this example.


- There is a general lack of understanding amongst new requesters about rejecting work and how to do it fairly.

- Need to know how much to pay for a task and the return they will get from attaching a qualification (other than the higher price)

Reddit forum for Workers

- Workers are unclear about how rejection will hurt them and feel browsing/going in and out of jobs carries a penalty. They need better rules and clearer explanations of MTurk. (found this post interesting it's from someone new but it shows the system has no good way of teaching rules:

- Workers need to have a legitimate rejection percentage system for MTurk requesters. This seems to be a fairly strong ask from the forums (reddit and TurkerNation alike). TurkOpticon seems to be the primary tool for getting more information about requesters.

MTurk/TurkerNation/Other Forums

- Classification of HITs from a workers perspective, this is done on forums. There is a need to find good HITs, fun tasks that workers actually like doing.

- There is a need to make the interface clear so that workers don't redo the same task twice (especially in case of surveys)

- I found these needs from workers especially interesting, directed at academic researchers ( These responses were strikingly similar to responses on reddit and othe forums and follow the same guidelines: Pay fairly, be clear with rules, avoid unfair rejections, identify yourself, learn about your workers and provide fair time estimates.

Synthesize the Needs You Found

List out your most salient and interesting needs for workers, and for requesters. Please back up each one with evidence: at least one observation, and ideally an interpretation as well.

Worker Needs

A set of bullet points summarizing the needs of workers.

  • Example: Workers need to be respected by their employers. Evidence: Sanjay said in the worker panel that he wrote an angry email to a requester who mass-rejected his work. Interpretation: this wasn't actually about the money; it was about the disregard for Sanjay's work ethic.

Requester Needs

A set of bullet points summarizing the needs of requesters.

  • Example: requesters need to trust the results they get from workers. Evidence: In this thread on Reddit (linked), a requester is struggling to know which results to use and which ones to reject or re-post for more data. Interpretation: it's actually quite difficult for requesters to know whether 1) a worker tried hard but the question was unclear or very difficult or an edge case, or 2) a worker wasn't really putting in a best effort.