Saturday, 2 February 2013

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk outside of the US

I've been looking at ways of using reputable crowdsourcing services from within the UK. There are a few around, however I've always wanted to use Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). I first learned about MTurk when the company I work for was visited by the guys at Amazon Web Services (AWS), they discussed it as one of their many AWS offerings and had quite a funny story about a CEO of a company working as a Worker on MTurk while he exercised (don't ask how). My partner then started using it as a Worker just for fun when I realised I have a project which could do with some large scale collaborative effort.

MTurk doesn't allow Requesters (people with jobs) from outside of the US, I'm not sure of the reason why but this stopped me. I had not heard any good words about any other crowdsourcing platform so MTurk was for me, but how?

Enter CrowdFlower.com ... A US company which spreads work amongst many crowdsourcing platforms, including MTurk, and even better you can pay via PayPal. Finally, a way to use this tool! Now to start tuning work rate over cost. I can see myself enjoying the benefits of crowdsourcing from this day forward, though I will keep this blog post updated!

Do you have any tips for using MTurk? Send them through to me via twitter.

Costs and Payment

After messing about with CrowdFlower.com I have since figured out some of the costs. All figures are checked at the time of writing:
  • International exchange rate with PayPal.com to purchase US Dollars to fund CrowdFlower.com
  • CrowdFlower.com charge a near 50% (46.3%) additional cost for using the service. (MTurk themselves charge 10%)
This high cost is a little ridiculous and is likely because they use multiple crowd platforms each with their own costs, I'm sure this would turn many away.

Unfortunately for me paying in GBP means approximately for every 1 cent spent I am paying 1 pence. 1.00 USD = 1.00 GBP, quite a high exchange rate if you ask me! Normally 1.00 USD = 0.60 GBP give or take. But it still means I can take advantage of one of the major benefits of crowd platforms: because it costs the same to have one job done, no matter how many people are doing it, I can still spread the work across multiple people saving lots of time which has its own benefits.

1 comment:

  1. Amazon rejects international requesters in order to comply with notorious Patriot Act requirements - some mturk's boss has explained back in 2010 that they don't want the service to be used for "money laundering" activities.

    No surprise that smart guys at crowdflower (whose bosses apparently do not care about that Act at all) grabbed the chance and now happily charge 50% just for rerouting majority of the HITs to the law abiding fools at mturk :)

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