Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Turkopticon Toolbar and Making Money with Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

I have raved about the Turkopticon Toolbar more than once in passing in my posts about Amazon MTurk (Mechanical Turk) but I love this device so much, I wanted to dedicate an entire blog post to it.  It really is the most wonderful aid for Mechanical Turk workers (also known as turkers) and a must for everyone trying to make money with Mechanical Turk.  As well as the Turkopticon Toolbar itself, there is also an online community of turkers associated with it, who can provide an invaluable source of information for anyone who is trying to make money online using MTurk.

How much does it cost?

The Turkopticon Toolbar costs nothing to download and install, that’s right, it’s free! 

How do I install it?*

There are two versions, one for Firefox and one for Google Chrome.  Provided you get the right version, installation is simple.  There is no version for Internet Explorer, but if you use MTurk regularly to make money online, then I would recommend that you download Firefox, just for the Turkopticon Toolbar, you can always just carry on using Internet Explorer for everyday use and click on Firefox when you use Mechanical Turk.

How does the Turkopticon Toolbar work?

Basically, Turkopticon is letting you know how other turkers have got on before with specific MTurk HIT requesters.  It does this by placing little button arrows next to the requesters when you are on the Amazon MTurk HITs page.  By clicking on the arrow, you see how previous turkers have rated that MTurk requester.  They are graded according to how quickly they pay, how fair they are at assessing HITs etc.  Turkers also write reviews in some cases.


This means that with the Turkopticon Toolbar you can avoid the worst MTurk requesters by looking at the reviews before you do a HIT.  You can also write a review after you complete a HIT and get paid and let other turkers know how you got on with that MTurk requester.

Are there any problems associated with the Turkopticon Toolbar?

I personally have not encountered any.  The program is also very small, so I’ve not noticed it slowing my browser in any noticeable way.

I know this probably sounds like a glowing endorsement, but as far as the Turkopticon Toolbar goes, I struggle to think of any negatives.  It really is a must if you want to make money with Mechanical Turk.

Oh, I nearly forgot to give you the download link, you can get the toolbar HERE!

*UPDATE: At the time of writing, the Turkopticon Toolbar isn’t working with Firefox 5, so I have gone back to Firefox 4 in order to use it!  I’ve had similar problems with other Firefox add-ons too recently, the root cause being that Firefox rushed out version 5 only a few months after they brought out version 4 and the add-on developers haven’t had enough time to react.  Hopefully this issue will be resolved soon.  FURTHER UPDATE: THIS MATTER IS NOW RESOLVED!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Microworkers scam: are accusations about payment problems justified?

I recently received a comment from someone on one of my make money online articles complaining about Microworkers payment problems and not being able to get his Microworkers earnings transferred over to his PayPal account.  He was upset and said he couldn’t understand why Microworkers insisted on mailing a PIN number out to him, which he’d not received, and he also implied (at least this was my interpretation) that the whole thing was a Microworkers scam.

As this was not the first time that I have seen complaints made against Microworkers about payment problems online, I thought it merited me writing a blog post.  I figured that I could also give you my own experience of what happened when I asked to transfer my Microworkers earnings from Microworkers to a PayPal account for the first time.  Before that though, I will go through the complaints about payment problems one at a time and provide some possible explanations.

Why do Microworkers send out PIN numbers by mail?

You would have to ask them that.  Although, often though it is done by companies for tax purposes, when they are attempting to show the IRS that they know who they are paying and sending out PIN numbers is a way of verifying someone’s address. 

Is it in Microworkers interest to scam people?

I personally don’t believe that it is.  They are a small company with a relatively small online workforce, certainly when compared to a giant like Amazon and their Mechanical Turk (MTurk), their main make money online rival.  I can’t see why they would want to alienate workers or get a bad reputation just for the sake of a few dollars.  (I have been critical in the past that Microworkers seem too lenient when it comes to some dodgy tasks being advertised on their website, but that is not the same as saying that Microworkers themselves are not legit!)

My own experiences of transferring my earnings from Microworkers to PayPal

Here's what happened with me back when I first requested a Microworkers payment of earnings to my PayPal account online.  I made a request to transfer $10 from my Microworkers earnings to my PayPal account and noted the date that I’d done this.  Within a few days, a message appeared in my Microwokers Account saying that the PIN number had been sent out.  I waited.  After a week had gone by, I began to get a little nervous.  After 10 days of waiting, I began to wonder if there really was a Microworkers scam.  After two weeks, however, I did receive my PIN number and guess what, the letter with the PIN number in it had come all the way from Slovenia (I live in the USA), so I guess that is a big part of the reason why it took so long!

Anyway I entered the PIN on the Microworkers website, which was accepted.  I then had to wait 4 more days while my Microworkers earnings were “pending withdrawal”, according to the Microworkers website.  All in all the process took just under three weeks from me initiating the payment to receiving it in my PayPal account.

So my advice would be to anyone who is seeking to access their Microworkers earnings for the first time, if my case is anything to go by, you will get your money, but don’t expect it to happen quickly!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Swagbucks vs Inbox Dollars, which make money online website is best?

Swagbucks vs Inbox Dollars.  They are two of the leading online rewards clubs which offer opportunities to make money online through completing paid surveys, reading emails, playing games, searching and shopping online amongst other things, but which website is best?  They both have a lot of similarities, but also differences.  So rather like I did with Amazon MTurk or Microworkers, which is best? and Amazon MTurk vs Inbox Dollars, which is best? I thought that I would compare and contrast Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars, with a view to deciding which one is preferable for those who wish to make money online. 

Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars Similarities

Both are website-based rewards clubs where you can make money online.

Both pay you to do paid surveys, play games, read emails, watch videos, shop online.

Both give you coupons that you can print off and save money with.

There is a Swagbucks toolbar and an Inbox Dollars toolbar that you can install and use to enhance your make money online experience.

Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars Differences

One big difference is that with Inbox Dollars, when you make you make money online it is in dollars and once you reach $30, they pay you cash in the form of a check, whereas with Swagbucks you earn virtual money which you then have to spend in their online shop, or exchange for amazon giftcards, or PayPal money.

Swagbucks is a bigger organization than Inbox Dollars and their number of users is larger than Inbox Dollars. 

Swagbucks have an active official Twitter account too, which you can use to keep contact with them and get info on Swag codes.  Inbox Dollars have no active official Twitter account.

Swagbucks generally is more interactive and community orientated, whereas Inbox Dollars users are more a collection of individuals with no forum or blog to link them up, like with Swagbucks.

Some of the Swagbucks paid surveys pay slightly better than the Inbox Dollars ones, in my experience.

Inbox Dollars give you $5 when you join, Swagbucks give you 50 swagbucks.

You do get more emails from Inbox Dollars than Swagbucks.  My advice would be to do what I do and don’t use your main email address when you join any of these sites.  I have a specific email account that I set up specifically for use with all these make money online websites.

In my wife’s opinion, Swagbucks has slightly more desirable gifts and rewards in their offers than Inbox Dollars does.  I will have to take her word on that one.


I personally prefer Inbox Dollars to Swagbucks on balance, I like the fact that when you make money online, it is in dollars.  I find the Swagbucks concept of giving you virtual money which you then have to exchange a little gimmicky, although I guess it doesn’t really matter much in the long run, as you can convert the Swagbucks to Amazon gift cards or PayPal money, if you wish.  My wife, on the other hand, is a huge fan of Swagbucks (although she still does Inbox Dollars as well, of course), so I guess that makes us a balanced couple!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Using Amazon MTurk to make money online with online surveys

One way that I make money online with Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is by completing some of the online surveys that you get on there.  There are pros and cons to doing Amazon MTurk surveys.  In some ways, you are better off signing up to a company that specializes in online surveys, rather than MTurk, if you want to make money online with online surveys, as they often pay much better.  Inbox Dollars is probably better than MTurk for online surveys too, in many ways, as they tend to pay more also.  But hey, this is primarily an MTurk blog and I do them on MTurk, so here are my thoughts on using Amazon MTurk to make money online with online surveys.

How do you find surveys on Amazon MTurk?

I normally just type "surveys" in the search box for hits and check the "for which you are qualified" box (my hit rejection rate fell below 95% again recently!).

Who pays you to do the online surveys on Amazon MTurk?

Anyone can pay people to do an online survey on Amazon MTurk.  But usually the online surveys are provided by a mixture of consumer research groups working on behalf of companies, plus individuals who are studying something at a college or university - either academic staff such as professors, or students working for a degree.

Pay rates and time

The online surveys that you see on Amazon MTurk have pay rates that are completely variable and erratic in my experience.  Sometimes you will get paid maybe $2 a time to do easy surveys that take only 5 minutes.  Other times you will be given 25 cents for doing a very difficult online survey that takes you over half an hour to complete.  There is no rhyme nor reason to it and it is not always possible to discover from the instructions how difficult, or how long the survey will take you before you start out.

Things to watch out for in Amazon MTurk Online Surveys

Some surveys have initial questions that you have to answer correctly before you can undertake the survey proper.  These are annoying if you’re trying to make money online, because if you get anything on the initial section wrong, it’s often a waste of time as you don’t get to do the main survey and therefore don’t get paid.

Often there is a trick question put in the survey somewhere to check if you are actually reading the questions properly and paying attention.  Try not to rush through them too much, or you will miss it.

Always make sure that you take your time and pay lots of attention at the end.  Usually you get given some sort of code to prove that you have completed the online survey and if you miss that, you won’t get paid!

Amazon MTurk surveys are generally reliable for paying up, but often late

Generally speaking, I have had a good record of getting paid with Amazon MTurk online surveys, that’s to say, not getting unfairly rejected.  They often aren’t the quickest payers though.  Sometimes they pay quickly, but I have also known them to take weeks.  On the whole, I would say they were relatively slow payers.

Get your browser right

Some surveys like you to have specific browsers and software installed on your computer in order to do the online survey.  I tend to use Mozilla Firefox generally, but I would always make sure that whatever browser you use, you have others installed too, certainly the big three: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer, then you have extra options if you run into technical difficulties, or the requester demands that you use a certain browser.  I would also make sure that you have your Flash player up to date, as some online surveys play you videos and audio to watch and listen to.

PS If you use Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome, then you can also use the fabulous Turkopticon toolbar, which is one of the greatest tools for mechnical turkers ever invented!

Bizarre experiences with Amazon MTurk Online Surveys

I think one of the oddest surveys that I’ve done when trying to make money online, was one where they kept playing me the same piece of classical music over and over again and asking me what I thought of it.  I like classical music, but this survey went on and on in a repetitive fashion for a long, long time, and it almost drove me around the twist!

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Best and Worst Amazon MTurk Experiences

Looking back over my time earning money online with the make money at home site, Amazon Mechanical Turk, also known as MTurk, I thought it might be fun to contrast my best MTurk experience with my worst.  Those familiar with MTurk are aware that  when things are going well, it can be great fun and a more than decent earner, but when it goes badly it can be extraordinarily frustrating.  Sometimes things go wrong because of your own mistakes, but other times you can lose money or get your hit rejection rate dented through no fault of your own.  Life certainly isn’t always easy or fair for a turker!

Anyway, before I head off to to look for new hits to do today, here are my best and worst Amazon MTurk experiences from the past.

My Best Amazon MTurk Experience

I had a great run when I found an MTurk requester who paid just under 2 dollars for a writing task that took 15-20 minutes and there were lots of hits too!  For a month I was making $15-$20 per day for just 2 or 3 hours work.  It was all going very well.  The only problem was that I was playing fair, but there were other turkers who were defrauding the requester using dodgy software to do their hits.  So the requester introduced their own dodgy software in an effort to weed out the fraudsters, the only problem was that the MTurk requester’s dodgy software started rejecting everyone, including legitimate turkers like myself.  My best Amazon MTurk experience ended badly with a reduced hit rejection rate, an easy money supply effectively terminated and a sense of annoyance that I still haven’t quite recovered from, but it was good while it lasted!

My Worst Amazon MTurk Experience

Early on when I was new to Amazon Mechanical Turk and I didn’t know any better, I did lots of MTurk hits for a requester.  They were poorly paid and I didn’t really read the instructions closely, as I didn’t think it was terribly important if they were rejected.  Guess what, the MTurk requester rejected them!  But I still didn’t think it mattered much.  Then, after a while, I suddenly noticed that there were lots of MTurk hits that I was no longer qualified for.  When I pieced it all together, I realized that it was the rejected poorly paid hits that had caused my problems by hitting my hit rejection rate.  It took forever and a hell of a lot of grafting to get my hit rejection rate back up.  Needless to say, I paid a lot more attention after that, even if the hits were badly paid.