The Mechanical Turk surveys

Wanting to double down on what I have learned from playing with Mechanical Turk lately, I ran a handful of surveys over the past few weeks trying to tease out some good uses for Mturk in the future.  After all, Mturk is more like the nickel slots than the high limit tables since each survey cost me less than $5.

I designed surveys asking the following questions.  Click on the question to see the raw data that I received:

Links go to Google Spreadsheet with all responses. To see the most interesting responses, see below the links.

1. What are you an expert at

2. HIT you have been paid the most for?

3. Weirdest thing you have had to do on Mechanical Turk?

4. Most clever HIT you have done on Mechanical Turk?

5. Most creative HIT you have done on Mechanical Turk?

6. If you had $100 to spend using Mechanical Turk, what would you use it to get done?

Some of the most interesting responses for each survey:

What are you an expert at?

  • Retired military officer that can interpret morse code
  • Horticulturist that can ID plants from good pictures
  • Heavy equipment operator, expert at dirt

Hit you have been paid the most for?

  • Write 3 things that you don’t like about a website home page
  • How did you discover the CORNHOLE game?
  • I had to get my credit score off a website
  • Transcribing radio communications of troops
  • I got paid $10.00 just for joining Yookazo. I was rather shocked that they paid, to be honest, but I wasn’t complaining
  • I got paid $1.50 to take a survey called “Perceptions of Pain.”  I read a scenario and had to determine how much pain a person was really feeling
  • In terms of overall payout, ive earned about $17.00 in 1 1/2 hours for doing video tasks for US Army Research

Weirdest thing you have done on Mechanical Turk?

  • Make a profile for a 25 year old male on a dating site
  • Looking at a variety of clothing items and trying to match whether or not they are worth buying
  • Discuss why I would commit suicide — and my HIT was rejected because the writer of the HIT said he did not believe my reasons
  • Take pictures of my kitchen counter top and my bathroom counter top
  • Flip a coin and report heads or tails
  • Click on what you think are buildings on a satellite map
  • The wierdest thing I’ve done was to sell my soul for 5 cents

Most clever HIT you have done on Mechanical Turk?

  • I love the “Kind Machine” HIT — you have to take a picture of yourself doing something kind and the sketch of the Kind Machine has to be in the picture.
  • There was one called “Got Ideas?” that asked you what you think will improve certain businesses.
  • I had to watch a basketball game and make note of what time a specific event occurred for a specific team.
  • Ages ago, there were tons of hits helping to map an area where you had to mark curbs, signs, etc.
  • I was asked to a simple survey in where i was forced to submit my personal information, sign on to a re-curring bill, and download random ringtones all for the price of 9.99. I thought the way they screwed me was pretty clever.

Most creative HIT you have done on Mechanical Turk?

  • The most creative hit i’ve done on Mechanical Turk was creating unique passwords.
  • To remove personal information from post quake tweets from Haiti so that they can be used for research in disaster preparedness.
  • Break down a complex task into simpler tasks.
  • To design a label for a wine bottle.
  • A couple years ago, a guy posted a HIT asking for help finding the location of his granfather’s lost village in the Middle East(can’t remember which country.
  • Had to take a survey on an iPad – it wouldn’t even load on the computer.

If you had $100 to spend using Mechanical Turk, what would you use it to get done?

  • Catalog my collection of Cherished Teddies by year and stamp number.
  • I would use it to fund the transcription of a set of 1860’s diaries from hard-to-read handwriting to electronic format.
  • I would have people search for job sites that are relevant to Radiologist.
  • I would survey 1000 people at 10 cents to see if they feel the republican party can put up a strong challenger in the next election.
  • Have workers read a scenario related to my love life and describe how they would handle it.
  • I would use it to try to get some insurance leads for people in Illinois.
Which responses did you find interesting?

About russ

Working on an MBA at Queens University of Charlotte, playing with cows that look like oreos cookies and figuring out ways to delegate the boring tasks in life.


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  • Caroline

    This is fascinating Russ – we ran a couple of jobs thru Mturk and other offshore virtual assistants recently, with some interesting results:

    • Russ Hammond

       Would you mind sharing the tasks you sent to Mturk?  I am trying to build a master list of sample tasks that people can reference to see what Mturk can do for them.