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» Amazon Mechanical Turk Status Update from Mech Turk Blog (MTB)
Jeff Barr over at the official Amazon Web Services Blog has a great update about the Mechanical Turk beta. Specifically, he mentions HITs, bots, and banned accounts. There's a lot more info as well, and some of the people I recognize from Turking.com a... [Read More]

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Aaron Doucet

THANK YOU for posting about blocked accounts--it's good that I don't have to be afraid of doing 800 music hits/hour as long as I can justify it in e-mail. I'm trying to get $1000 for an iBook and I don't want to be afraid to make any more than $10/day. It's good that you have a way for legitimate users to get unblocked.

br0adband

Thanks for the information, Jeff. I know you're busy, so I want to clarify your statement:

"A few Workers are trying to run "bots", which you can think of as mindless HIT robots. While we do recognize that some high performance Workers use a variety of scripts to simplify and increase the efficiency of the Mechanical Turk workflow, we do need to point out that the use of fully automated bots runs counter to the Mechanical Turk Participation Agreement."

If possible, can you absolutely clarify that statement that script assistance is allowed to increase our efficiency and productivity as long as they do not automate the entire process start to finish?

I hope your answer is yes, because there are a lot of us that are willing to do the work but think we can improve it client-side and get more done.

Thanks for the informative post and for keeping the community up to date.

bb

Sarah

"A few Workers are trying to run "bots", which you can think of as mindless HIT robots. While we do recognize that some high performance Workers use a variety of scripts to simplify and increase the efficiency of the Mechanical Turk workflow, we do need to point out that the use of fully automated bots runs counter to the Mechanical Turk Participation Agreement. Furthermore, it hurts the entire community by lowering overall quality as well as the amount of available work on the site."

Thank you for communicating. I hope the scripts vs. bots issue is clarified soon. I see no logical reason why scripts would be verboten, being that they are merely helping the workers work more efficiently. Bots, however, completely defeat the purpose of MTurk.

Jamey

Glad to see some comment being made regarding using a script to complete the task better and more efficiently. I agree, that a 'bot' completely bypasses the whole point of Mechanical Turk.

I am concerned when members of the community write to the feedback addy asking about scripts, and get a blanket statement;

"Greetings from Mechanical Turk.

Scripts are not allowed.
[edited for brevity]
Thank you for participating in Mechanical Turk.

Best regards,

Michael
Amazon.com Customer Service
http://www.amazon.com "

Now, I enjoy doing the HITs, but found myself locked out of my account tonite. I have written to the email address you listed, Jeff, and hope to have a reply soon. My bleeding eyeballs can attest to the fact that I am indeed a (the!) human who is doing the work. I think I have learned more about music in the past week than I have in a lifetime.

Yes, there will be people who try to cheat the system. I feel that the community working together with MTurk and the requesters will be able to work out a method to put a stop to that. There are a lot of talented people out here just waiting to work.

Thanks again for this very cool opportunity,

Jamey

Joey Thompson

I love Mechanical Turk, especially the music HITs. Keep them coming, and we'll keep doing them.

Barrett

I'm really glad that you're being very communicative with the turking community, Jeff. I appreciate it more then I can say.

I have a question though that I'd love to hear from you on.

The number of music hits have DRASTICALLY decreased. There's a real struggle for them right now, and I was wondering what the reason was. Is mturk.com's staff just late on those huge, replenishing dumps, or are we about to see a new type of hit, or maybe a hit already mturk.com, just not as available as the music hits, and that will become main hit type in just a short time?

Joan Landy

I have been turking for a while, and also really like the music HITs... However, something has happened today. I'm not sure if it's bots or what, but all of the music hits are gone! I used to be able to do a sizeable number of them in an hour, with good accuracy, but now I can't even manage 100 in an hour, and that makes it not at all worth my time.

It is because there are almost none in the category, even though it gets very slightly replenished all the time. If this is intentional, please reconsider! People won't do it for long.

Please put more up at a time, or else get rid of the bots so we can get back to work!

Moonho

Hi Jeff,

Why don't you insert random captcha(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captcha) questions between every 10-100(random) HITs assigned to someone?

In case he(or bot) fails to answer in 30-60 seconds, you may ask 2 or 3 more questions and if he(or bot) fails again, you may block his account for about 1 hour.

In this way, bots can be neutralized effectively.

Samuel

Thanks for keeping us up-to-date. The more info we can get from the people behind this, the better.

A question, though: A9 Image HITs have dried up and left us, and Music HITs are heading down that same route. What I - and I imagine, hundreds of other Turkers - am concerned about is the future of these sort of HITs. That is, HITs we can do lots and lots of, and make a decent amount of money doing so. Can you give us any sort of information about when we'll be seeing more Image or Music HITs? I, for one, miss the days of thousands of image/music HITs. Fighting for HITs is just frustrating.

Thanks for providing this service, and thanks in advance for any information you might share.

Kristina Kiser

Jeff,

I am writing in regards to the use of scripts for completing the Mechanical Turk duties. I believe that the auto-accept process is hurting the whole system as this practice seems to block others who are trying to participate. What ever happened to ethics in business? It seems in a way that auto-accepting and scripts are a way of cheating, much like lying of one's abilities on a resume. Really, without using auto-accept(which I don't) the site is totally inaccessable. Boooo to all you scripters.

Aaron Doucet

It's not the auto-accepters, it's the botters. All auto-accept does is make sure you get the hit (because otherwise it's nigh impossible to grab them.)

andy

Jeff -

I just found out my account was banned, and I have no idea why. I don't use bots, don't complete an inordinate number of HITs, my approval rating was (last time I saw) over 90%, am the only user on my account, and do not have multiple accounts.

The only thing I can think of is that we have a home wireless network with 3 computers, and both my wife and I have accounts. It's an easy way to pass a little time and make a little money toward a book or the like. So, if we're both using our accounts, it would look like multiple accounts at the same IP (which is true, but multiple accounts in use by different people).

In the e-mail response I got it, the answer was basically "your account is closed, it won't be reopened, but why not go open another one?"

Well, because I don't see much point in earning some money only to have it denied to me again when I'm falsely accused of wrongdoing.

If I've been gaming the system, I must be pretty dumb since I've netted a whopping $16 in two months.

Any ideas or help you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks.

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