Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MTurk Requester Payment Problems

Earning money online can be frustrating sometimes.  Most turkers who have worked on Amazon Mechanical Turk for any length of time has experienced MTurk requester payment problems.  There are times when you know why you have not been paid sometimes, for instance, you had a computer glitch, or an interuption happened, like you were phoned up, and you ran out of time to finish doing the MTurk hit.  Another time, you might have been unsure what you were supposed to be doing on the hit and so not surprised when your work was rejected by the MTurk requester.

Late Payments

It is frustrating when you complete a job and then you are checking your account every day expecting to see your earnings and nothing happens.  In my experience, most MTurk requesters pay up within a couple of days.  Some pay quicker than that, within a matter of hours sometimes.  The annoying thing is where is takes over a week before you receive your MTurk payment.  You can email the MTurk requester in this situation, but be aware that Amazon allows them up to 30 days to either pay or reject your work.  That is way too, long in my opinion, and Microworkers have got a better idea by giving MTurk employers a one week cut off period to resolve outstanding jobs.

Non-payment by MTurk requester because of hits rejected

Occasionally you can get hits rejected by an MTurk requester and it seems unfair.  As well as losing the money you felt you earned, getting hits rejected can also damage your hit rejection rate and effect which hits you are able to do in future.  So even if the amounts of money involved are small, it can still be annoying and upsetting.

If there were technical problems at the time of doing the hit, then you should report the hit as broken using the link in the bottom right.  If you believe that the requester is breaching the Amazon Mechanical Turk policies, then you should click the “Violates the Amazon Mechanical Turk policies” link which is also at the bottom right.  

Sometimes you have no idea why you have had your hits rejected.  In this case it is best to contact the MTurk requester.  I would advise that the tone you adopt with them is polite but firm.  You should explain that you followed all the instructions and ask why your work was rejected.  In many cases the matter can be resolved this way and you will get your money (or they will explain to you your mistake).  Sometimes the MTurk requester will use stalling tactics and you have to write more than once before they pay up.  Note though, that an MTurk requester cannot themselves reverse a rejection decision without the help of Amazon.

If you still have no joy, then your options for complaint as an MTurk worker are very limited (one gripe of turkers is that MTurk requesters can ban certain MTurk workers, but not the other way around).  Though you can, of course, warn other MTurk workers about the bad requester and discuss your experiences either on Turkopticon, or on one of the MTurk forums.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amazon MTurk vs Inbox Dollars, which is best?

Amazon Mturk vs Inbox Dollars, which is best?

Having written a review of Inbox Dollars previously, I thought it might be interesting to use my MTurk blog to compare InboxDollars and Amazon Mechanical Turk directly from a worker’s perspective and discuss which is best, rather like I did with Mturk or Microworkers,which is best? giving the relative advantages of using each website as a method for making money online.  So here is my MTurk vs Inbox Dollars comparison.

MTurk Advantages

There is no minimum threshold to reach before you are paid with Amazon MTurk, unlike with Inbox Dollars where you have to get $30 before you can receive anything (or $40 if you do not want to pay any charges).

 You don’t get lots of emails clogging up your inbox from MTurk like you do with Inbox Dollars.

If you find a good MTurk requester with lots of hits, you can learn how to do that task and stick with it for a long time, often building up decent earnings.

There is more work and a much wider variety of tasks that you can do on Amazon MTurk.

If you want to buy products from Amazon, then MTurk is great as you can earn and buy very quickly.

Inbox Dollars Advantages

There seems to be more overseeing of the jobs in Inbox Dollars, meaning that there are far less jobs on there that appear to be scams.  You are certainly safer from fraud anyway, though you can still get scammed, methinks.

There are no jobs that pay completely rip off prices, like in Amazon MTurk. 

There are is a regular supply of surveys in Inbox Dollars to do and these are good for bolstering income.  The number of surveys on MTurk can be erratic and the money you receive for taking the time to do them varies considerably.

You can earn money for shopping online with Inbox Dollars which is not an option with Amazon Mechanical Turk.

You aren’t dealing with lots and lots of different requesters like in Amazon MTurk, which can be a pain.

You are usually paid relatively quickly with Inbox Dollars, whereas you can never be quite sure when you will get your money with Amazon MTurk

General Summary of Amazon MTurk vs Inbox Dollars, which is best?

Overall, I use Inbox Dollars on a regular basis to build up earnings over time, whereas I tend to do Amazon MTurk in spurts, depending often on which MTurk requesters are posting hits at the time.  Inbox Dollars is more reliable in some ways, in that you tend to get paid at a more consistent rate and within a consistent time frame.  MTurk has a greater volume of jobs and a bigger variety, however.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Amazon Mechanical Turk Tips

I wrote my first lot of MTurk tips for Turkers a couple of months back and received positive feedback, however I thought it would be good to do a follow up and include some of the stuff I didn’t include the first time around.  So here are some more Amazon Mechanical Turk tips for you.  They are aimed at MTurk workers, people who earn money online, and are meant to supplement my previous tips.  Depending on your level of experience with MTurk, some of them might seem pretty obvious, but I hope you can glean something of use from them.  I have actually learnt quite a bit by putting them together as it has made me think about my approach to Mech Turk and reminded me of some of the mistakes that I made early on when I didn’t know any better!  Anyway, here are my More Amazon Mechanical Turk tips.

1. It is easy to skip the qualification tests sometimes, but they can be useful.  Sometimes they open up a whole vein of good MTurk hits.  Sometimes you don’t even have to do anything other than click a button to qualify (presumably they are trying to weed out bots?)

2.  Sometimes it is worth doing lots of low paying MTurk hits just to increase your hit approval rate.  You will also sometimes need to rescue your hit approval rate when it when your hit approval rate has fallen.

3.  Your hit approval rate can be important as it determines which hits you can and can’t do.  I myself didn’t realize this at first and managed to mess up early on in my turking career and it took me what seemed like ages to recover! 

4.  Opinion varies on which browser is best, but I personally would use Firefox or Chrome.  Some of the Amazon Turk hits demand that you don’t use Internet Explorer or that you use Internet Exporer with a Chrome frame.  I have Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome all installed, just in case!

5.  If an Amazon MTurk requester rejects you and you think that they wrong to do so, contact them directly and ask them what the problem was.  Be polite but firm.  It is surprising how many non-payers will pay up after being contacted.

6.  Maintaining good communications with the good MTurk requesters never does you any harm and if you can build up a trusting relationship you can sometimes be offered more opportunities to earn money online outside of MTurk by the good MTurk requesters.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Amazon MTurk alternatives: websites like MTurk

One question that I see asked a lot online and am always interested in myself is what Amazon MTurk alternatives are there on the web?  It is always good to have other options to fall back on, or other methods of earning online to use in addition to Amazon Mechanical Turk.  As far as I am aware, there are no websites like MTurk that resemble it in every way, but there are places that have some of the Amazon MTurk features and where you can make money online.

Microworkers has the most obvious similarities of all the MTurk alternatives.  The website has a different layout, there are less jobs on off than MTurk, you get your earnings paid into a PayPal account rather than through Amazon, they use some different terms for things such as jobs instead of hits, but the essentials are pretty much the same: you do online tasks and you are paid money in return.  Out of all the websites like MTurk it is the most similar.  I have written numerous articles, comparisons and reviews of Microworkers, such as Microworkers Tips, The Pros and Cons of Making Money with Microworkers, MTurk or Microworkers, which is best?.

Inbox Dollars advertises itself as an online rewards club.  Many of the tasks are the same sort of thing that can be found on Amazon Mturk: watching videos, completing surveys, applying for things.  They pay you by check, so you receive real money, but you have to cross a $30 threshold.  That isn’t too difficult as they give you a $5 start, which is useful.  I have also written a full Review of Inbox Dollars which you are welcome to read.

Shorttask.com has been recommended to me.  I have not had time to join and take a detailed enough look around it in order to write a review, but on the surface it looks fairly similar to Microworkers.

The other two websites that I’ve used regularly are Swagbucks, another online rewards club not too dissimilar to Inbox Dollars and Mylot, which is a form of social network site in the same vein as Facebook, except you get paid for commenting and posting photos etc.

There are websites that focus entirely on surveys.  Out of these, Pine Cone Research is possibly rated the most highly.  They are always full and you need a referral from someone who is already a member to join, however.  My wife is a member.  They pay at least $3 per survey which is good.  Often you have an initial survey that pays $3, then they send you a product in the post, for example, a new fizzy drink.  You try the product then do a second $3 survey telling them what you thought of the drink.

Another option is one of the Paid To Click sites (PTC), where you click on things like website adverts for money, but I haven’t really looked into them, in all honesty, as the earnings seem low to me and they don’t appeal to me personally.  There are lots of them around, however.

UPDATE (February 2014)

If I was writing this article now, I would definitely say that Bubblews was the best alternative, certainly if you just want to earn some (relatively) quick and easy money.  You write short (minimum 400 characters) articles with freedom to choose your topic and interact with other writers, rather like you would do in Facebook, and earn for this.  The payment threshold was raised to $50 recently which means that it can take a week to get a payout, but it's easy and it's fun.