A Helpful Review of Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk Service

Mechanical Turk is a business opportunity offered by Amazon’s Web Services. It allows companies to outsource simple tasks to a large pool of workers and it allows workers to make a small amount of money after completing the tasks. There are thousands of tasks and most do not require advanced knowledge or special skills. This website is popular with both businesses looking to outsource work and workers looking for some extra money.

A Successful Experiment

Mechanical Turk started out as an experiment by Amazon and the idea became popular. It worked because it was simple to use for both businesses and workers. The interface is intuitive and and it is easy to figure out how to navigate through the website.

A Brief History of the Name

The name, “Mechanical Turk,” refers to a wooden mannequin that wore Turkish garbs. This mannequin played chess. The Hungarian nobleman who built the mannequin claimed that it was programmed to make chess moves. In other words, the first form of artificial intelligence. Since the mannequin played rather good chess, beating people quite frequently, spectators were impressed. In actuality, a chess master sat in the mannequin playing the game.

How Mechanical Turk Works

Mechanical Turk offers the opportunity for people working from home to make money doing tasks that computers are not good at doing. These tasks are called HITs—an acronym for Human Intelligence Tasks. It also offers businesses a way to outsource work to a large pool of people.

Benefits to Workers and Employers

Workers benefit because they can work from home, choose their own hours, and make minimal wage if they do a number of tasks an hour.

Here are some examples of the type of work available:

* Surveys about a website’s suitability for a general audience.
* Identification of correct spellings in search terms.
* Finding specific things in images, like an item number.
* Rating keyword search results
* Comparing two products
* Deciding on the best categories for products
* Critiquing an article
* Translating an article from one language to another

Pay for work ranges from one cent per task to five dollars. Usually, if the pay is a few cents, the work can be done in a few minutes.

Businesses benefit because they don’t have to hire a developer to create software for small projects, nor do they have to hire part-time employees. Sometimes, too, the task is simple for human beings, like observing images in a picture and making comments, but difficult for a computer application to do.

Here are some of the services businesses need help with:

* Translating
* Transcribing
* Rewriting
* Improving sentences
* Verifying contact information
* Captions for pictures
* Descriptions for videos
* Screening out offensive content for a general audience
* Getting subjects for studies
* Getting market information through surveys
* Writing short articles

Is it Cost-Effective or Profitable?

From a business perspective, it can be cost-effective and from a worker’s perspective it is possible to earn minimum wage if a person follows a specific strategy. Numerous books are available on Amazon on how to optimize Mechanical Turk either as an employer or as a worker.

Matt Kilsdonk runs HelpfulReviewer.com a site dedicated to bringing unbiased reviews of products and services that can save you money.



  1. I’ve never heard of this before, but if I had more time while I was working at home I would definitely look into it.

  2. Wow, I’ve never heard of that before. Seems like an excellent deal for business owners.

  3. I have also never heard of these before, but it seems very interesting. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. wow! i hadn’t a clue this even existed! that’s cool

  5. Hello All!
    I am the author of this post and have used Mechanical Turk regularly for some time now. If you have any questions about the service feel free to ask!

  6. First time I have heard about this too. Now I’m curious and I’ll have to look into it! Thanks.

  7. This is new to me. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow this is something that I have never heard of before, so interesting!

  9. love that you included the history! AND never knew this existed. Thanks for sharing!

  10. This is a neat service to earn a little bit of extra money. I like the story behind the name.

  11. Very interesting post – all of this information is totally new to me. Sounds like a a very opportunity for companies and for workers.

  12. Sounds Lik eA Great Way To Make Some Money!!!

  13. Wow, that’s so interesting! I didn’t know that was an option actually. Good stuff.

  14. Never heard of this service from Amazon. It sounds like if you use it properly someone could use it as a part time job. If you have a motivated teen this could be good for a little spending money.

    • It certainly is a great way to earn some spending money! Motivated is the key word… Mosts tasks pay pennies per job, and it can be frustrating seeing small amounts. But when you keep working at every day eventually you will be seeing a nice side income.

  15. Sounds like a really cost-effective option for business owners. I had no idea!

  16. This sounds like such a great win-win situation for the employers and employees. It is an exiitn way to divide a lot of opportunities into manageable pieces.

  17. I remember my daughter telling me she was doing that on the side once. I don’t think she has lately though.

  18. I have never heard of this before. I will have to ask my husband if he is aware of this. He has some of those skills that a computer can’t do in analytics.

  19. This seems like a great, workable way to complete the tasks that fill in the blanks. I have never heard of a Mechanical Turk, love it!

  20. I’ve never heard of this before– THANKS so much for sharing!

  21. I have never heard of this before, sounds very helpful!

  22. Never heard of this before but does sound like it would be a great thing for business owners.

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