Monday, December 5, 2011

MTurk online surveys: 3 peeves of mine

I’ve been working on Amazon MTurk a lot recently in the run up to Christmas - it’s a good way of saving for gifts, especially when I know that what I plan to buy is sold on Amazon.  But some of the problems with the Mechanical Turk online surveys have been annoying me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing surveys.  They seem like less hassle than some of the other tasks sometimes, the pay varies and is maybe going down gradually over time, but often still isn’t bad in MTurk terms.  The requesters are also generally pretty reliable, especially if the MTurk requester is a university academic or student, so I worry less about not getting paid, or there being some sort of scam going on.

But recently when I search for surveys, there have been more and more scams that are calling themselves surveys appearing (you know the sort, they always offer you an "easy money for 5 minutes work" and say they're going to pay you $20!).  I mean signing up for a credit report can in no way be considered a survey!  Neither can “test my website by entering all your personal details and pressing submit”!  I guess I had considered online surveys to be a haven from the worst scams, but now I’m realizing that I was probably being over-optimistic.

Another really annoying thing that happens to me sometimes with surveys is that I approve the hit, open another window then do and the survey – but when I go back to the original window it tells me that I’ve run out of time.  Basically, the requester has given an absurdly short amount of time to do the survey and I have not noticed.  It’s happened to me before and I think it’s actually the same requester who keeps doing it (I hope it’s not deliberate, but who knows?!)

Which brings me onto my third and final gripe, which never ceases to annoy me.  Why is it that MTurk requesters can block specific turkers, but the turker can’t block a requester that they don’t like?  I am maybe being cynical, but I think it tells you where the turker features in the Amazon scheme of things – down at the bottom of the pile!

Anyway, enough moaning.  I can’t say for sure if I will blog again before Christmas.  If I don’t, have a happy festive season, turkers, and a prosperous new year!