Todd Hoskins chooses and uses tools and products that could belong in an entrepreneurial business toolkit. He’ll be checking out how useful they are to folks who would be their customers in a form that’s consistent and relevant.
Cool Tool Review: Mechanical Turk
A Review by Todd Hoskins
“Maybe we should hire an intern.” If you have uttered this phrase, or heard these words spoken inside your organization, stop and ask the question: “Would an intern grow and learn from this project?” If the answer is no, you may do yourself a favor by setting up a relationship with a crowd-sourcing service such as Mechanical Turk. Even if an intern is a possibility, how much trouble is it going to be to find one? And, will you get better results with paid labor than with an intern?
Mechanical Turk aims to create large and easy to assemble workforces to complete simple tasks that would otherwise be nearly impossible to finish given their overall volume. “Mindless tasks” often require a mind. Artificial intelligence has become more intelligent, but sometimes tasks are better suited to people rather than computers.
I have used Mechanical Turk to find, categorize, and document scattered information on the web. This could be used for sales leads, research, categorizing the sentiment of blog and forum posts, transcribing audio, tagging content, or cleaning up a database. Once you set up and fund an account, you post a task. You assign a cost per task. If you are not satisfied with the quality of the work, you don’t have to pay the workers. With the thousands of people looking for flexible and/or stay-at-home work, tasks typically get done quickly. The key is explaining the tasks with clarity and details.
Here’s a Best Practices video.
Mechanical Turk is owned by Amazon, so there is legitimacy.
UPDATE: The workers that earn a supplemental income through working with Mechanical Turk may only get paid pennies for a completed task, but the free marketplace means that workers will be inclined to find the tasks that pay best – the most money for the least effort. If you post a task and don’t get sufficient workers, you need to increase your pay rate. It is common for MT workers to make in excess of $12 per hour.
Summing Up â Is it worth it?
Enterprise Value: 4/5 â Quality of the output depends upon the quality of the direction. Even large companies can benefit from the speed and flexibility of Mechanical Turk.
Entrepreneur Value: 5/5 â Minimize your time being focused on energy-draining tasks.
Personal Value: 1/5 â Hmm. De-duping my contact database?
Let me know what you think!
Todd Hoskins helps small and medium sized businesses plan for the future, and execute in the present. With a background in sales, marketing, and technology, he works with executives to help create thriving organizations through developing and clarifying values, strategies, and tactics. You can learn more at VisualCV, or contact him on Twitter.