Assignment 1: Being a Crowd Worker (10%)

The goal of this assignment is to get to acquainted with micro-task platforms from the worker’s perspective. For the rest of the semester, you will be relying on crowd workers to complete work for you quickly and accurately. You should take this first assignment as an opportunity to understand your workers and the ways you can help them work best for you.

Pay attention to what makes tasks interesting and attractive, how much each task pays, and whether you think the compensation is fair. We will ask you to turn in a short writeup describing your experience.

Becoming A Crowd Worker

The first step is to head on over to Amazon Mechanical Turk and Figure Eight and sign up for a worker account. This should be done in our Assignment 0. Later in the course you'll be a requester, but one of the best ways to become good at crowdsourcing is to experience what it's like as a worker.

In this assignment, you'll become a crowd worker on Amazon Mechanical Turk or Figure Eight and earn either $2.00 USD or complete 50 tasks. You will then reflect on this experience on your writeup.

While working to accumulate your $2.00 (or complete 50 tasks), please keep track of your total time spent (both searching for and completing tasks) and the total value of the HITs that you completed. Later, also record the total realized value of the work you did. This will help you in calculating a rough hourly wage. For example, Jeff spent 5 minutes looking for a task to complete and then 16 minutes on the HIT he found. This paid him $2.50, so that’s an hourly wage of just over $7 (reasonable but not particularly high by Mechanical Turk standards). It’s possible he got lucky on that one though, as his later adventures in turking were not as profitable.

What to turn in

Read the questions below and think about them as you work. Provide short answers to each in a Google Document, and save it as a PDF. You'll then submit this PDF on a turnin page.

  1. List one or more problems that you ran into while earning your $2.00 (or completing your 50 tasks).
  2. What effect(s) do you think these problems had on the work that you submitted?
  3. What effect(s) do you think these problems have on the "average" Mechanical Turk / Figure Eight worker?
  4. Do you have ideas on how to improve how Mechanical Turk / Figure Eight works based on your experience?
  5. What hourly wage did you earn? What was your hourly wage if you include the time you spent searching for tasks as well?
  6. What was your HIT acceptance rate? 0-100%
  7. How much money or how many tasks did you earn overall? (include a screenshot of your payments page showing the final amount)

Extra Credit: There are several tools for better Turking. Please explore a few of these and give us your thoughts.

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