Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Reasons Why Amazon Mechanical Turk No Longer Accepts International Turkers

As many of you may have heard, Amazon is not approving international Mturk accounts anymore. In 2012 Amazon put a hold on accepting new worker accounts for a couple of months. When they started accepting new workers again, it was only for workers in the United States.

There are three reasons for this:

Fraud - Amazon was having a difficult time verifying these accounts and a lot of fraud was occurring from outside the United States. Multiple accounts, sweatshops, money transfers and other Amazon TOS violations were occurring on these international accounts. Amazon would close the worker account and then they would simply open a new one. If you want to see some of this fraud, take a look at this forum- Romanian Mturk Forum. Over 300 pages long and 6000 posts. Almost every page of this forum has discussions on how to break Amazon's TOS. It is no longer active forum because of the halts on new international accounts.
 
Complaints - Requester complaints about the quality of work is the second reason. I personally know quite a few workers outside of the US that are excellent turkers and speak and write English better than many Americans. Because of the constant stream of complaints to Amazon about the poor quality of work from international IP addresses, something had to be done.  Since fraudulent workers outside of the US were not required to verify their accounts, they could just make a new account and get back to work under a different user ID.

Blocks - Blocks are a way Amazon to monitor worker accounts, although Amazon does not tell requesters this. When a worker account starts accumulating blocks from requesters, the workers account is suspended and reviewed by someone at Mturk. A requester could block a US worker and over time if that worker is not preforming well, they are removed completely from the worker pool and cannot make a new account. With the international accounts, a worker would simply change IP address and make a new account and set up a click script to automatically cheat HITs until blocked .  

Since Americans are verified using Social Security numbers, bank accounts, credit cards and addresses, American workers would protect and guard their accounts to ensure they are not suspended. This is NOT to say that international workers do not have a professional work ethic or are all out to cheat the system, it is just an additional restriction on American workers have to ensure that they can never make multiple accounts. 

Requesters are starting to take notice of this. The worker pool of cheap labor is getting smaller every day. Some requesters feel it is ethical to pay a worker $1-$2 for an hours worth of work. American workers, for the most part, will not work for this pay. New workers, international workers and naive turkers were the ones completing these tasks. Now, this substandard work is not being completed in a timely fashion anymore. 
For instance, CastingWords is now making their own interface because they need these international workers. 

So please, people in India, Pakistan and other foreign countries, please stop sending me emails asking me how to get your accounts verified. It is not going to happen. And to all the workers out there, protect your accounts no matter what country you are from.
 

27 comments:

  1. I got clarification from Sharon Chiarella, the Amazon VP who is in charge of Mechanical Turk. Her email is below. She implies that the speculation that MTurk is excluding international workers is not correct, and it is an inference that people are making because of it's new policy on confirming workers before allowing them to work.

    Chris,

    We made a change to our registration process a few months ago. We moved to an invitation-only registration. In the new process, we review a Worker's registration information prior to inviting them to work on Mturk. We're not providing details of this review process and some Workers (or would-be Workers) are trying to determine what our process is and this has started the speculation that we're excluding international Workers.

    That said, if you do notice a change in your ability to find the Workers you need on Mturk, please don't hesitate to reach out and let me know.

    Thanks,
    Sharon

    -----Original Message---
    From: Chris Callison-Burch
    Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2013 6:25 AM
    To: Chiarella, Sharon
    Subject: does mturk have a new policy excluding international workers?

    Dear Sharon,

    I have read several internet rumors saying that Mechanical Turk will no longer be accepting international workers, (Here is one such report: http://turkrequesters.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-reasons-why-amazon-mechanical-turk.html). Is this true?

    If it is true, it would be a shame. I have been doing research into crowdsourced translations and have been spending ~$100k per year to collect translations and other annotations for computational linguistics research. My research relies on having a diverse international speaker population to have a good representation of the world's languages. Typically, I have found the quality of the international workers who I hired to be very high.

    Best Regards,
    Chris Callison-Burch
    Center for Language and Speech Processing
    Johns Hopkins University

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    Replies
    1. Chris,
      I really wish I could believe that to be true. I understand that a business should be able to keep some information private, but with Amazon Mechanical Turk, there are just too many secrets.
      How are "master" turkers chosen?
      Where does the money go from suspended Amazon Payments accounts?
      Why are some requesters given special privileges to work around Amazon's terms of service?

      I have not met a single new turker from outside the USA in the past 6 months on any of the international forums that I am a member of. I have actually seen the opposite with many of the international forums closing because new workers are not being accepted.
      For your HIT's, international workers are essential and you are one of the few requesters who pays a living wage to these workers. I guess time will tell if this is an honest letter from Sharon or not. Of course I will revise if I see anything that shows otherwise.

      Delete
    2. Slightly off topic, and will all due respect, but I have to disagree with your statement that ccb "pays a living wage to these workers". Translating 10 sentences for a meager dollar comes down to about 1c/word, way below the going rate for translations at about 5c+/word on average (depending on language and topic). I understand that probably most translations on MTurk are not done by professional translators, but 1c/word? C'mon! It's far below minimum wages, for any country. I have stayed clear of his assignments, although I speak two languages; there is better paid work on MTurk. This is possibly the reason why the Italian translations, mentioned elsewhere here, were not done. Sorry, just had to say something.

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    3. i am an indian, can anyone suggest me a reliable online job site please?

      Delete
    4. I know this was posted a while ago, but while CCB's wages might not be "living wages", I found them relatively good compared to most of the current available HIT's. I actually don't think any HIT will give someone living wages, but as a source of alternative income, CCB's were good.

      I did a lot of his "translate spanish to english" hits, and found that getting a dollar for work that could be done in minutes instead of hours was a good situation. I'm not a professional translator, and was not expecting to use this as primary income, so maybe my situation is not the same as MR's above.

      I'm actually hoping CCB will need English/Spanish translation soon.

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    5. I would like to distribute surveys for an academic research project using Mechanical Turk. However, I would like to restrict the survey respondents to Indian MTurkers. Has Amazon clarified its policy regarding international workers since this original blog post? Are international workers who were in the MTurk system before these changes took place still able to participate in HITs?

      Delete
    6. @Admin, i am Romanian and i work on mturk... and i enrolled without using a US SSN.. but just so you know, "international" actually involves the countries that are in nato because nato has a centralized database of all the SSNs.. for countries outside nato, some of them use different kind of SSN, others don't have a centralized database, others don't use them at all,etc. so basically they accept people that they can initially or eventually run a background on, the sole purpose of this being the capability and obligativity of paying tax for every worker..

      Delete
  2. I'm Italian, and three days ago I registered to become a MTurk Worker.
    This morning I received an email stating that "We regret to inform you that you will not be permitted to
    work on Mechanical Turk.".
    I sent an email asking for clarification, and if there was some kind of international block at the moment.
    The answer was that "New Worker accounts are accepted based on our marketplace needs. [...] All new account registrations will undergo the same review process regardless of the country of residence.".
    And in this moment I can see that there are two HITs requesting english to italian translation that are expiring. So the marketplace may need somebody like me!
    I don't think that their answers are sincere, and moreover the fact that you can't re-apply for the service drives me crazy!
    They say that if the criteria changes I may be contacted in the future... I'm quite confident that my record will be lost between thousands of rejected Workers, even if in the future something changes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are saying exactly what I have heard from hundreds of international workers. Amazon may tell requesters that they are still accepting international accounts, but they are not.

      Delete
  3. Is any possibility for accepting new International accounts in near FUTURE?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amazon "SAYS" they are accepting international workers by invitation only.

    I do not believe this. Who are they inviting? As Chris Callison-Burch indicates in his comment, he needs international workers for his hits, yet there is still not a way for Amazon to verify international accounts. If a worker is not completing work properly or uses false information to make an account, then what is to stop them from making more accounts?

    Try using microworkers or clickworker or one of the other platforms available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, I too tried to register on Mturk, and as predicted failed, could you please suggest me some sites which provide tasks to Indians, I am already registered on clickworker and get-paid.com, clickworker pays pretty decent which is not the same with other sites, also please let me know if any site pays Indians in cash to complete surveys, pls suggest authentic ones

      Delete
  5. I am an Indian.I am new to this Mturk which was advised by my friend to do this.But when I try to create an account the reply I got is like this "We regret to inform you that you will not be permitted to work on Mechanical Turk." Will I get any chance to work in this Mturk or not?.I am so confused whether I will get this chance to work as an International worker in future. please help me with some clear answers.

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  6. I agree that there is a general "block". The only information that is required on sign-up is a full name and address. How do you "assess" a persons skillset based on that? The account I used is my Amazon Affiliate account - which is in good standing and has never received any complaints. It has to be your country of residence.

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  7. I am from India and tried to create an account on MTurk. There was no mention of international workers not being accepted. With great enthusiasm I waited for my account to be reviewed, only to receive a message which siad 'We have completed our review of your Amazon Mechanical Turk Worker Account. We regret to inform you that you will not be permitted to work on Mechanical Turk'.

    I came across this blog which said international workers won't be accepted. It is all right if we are not accepted, but it needs to be clearly mentioned as many other crowd sourcing sites do mention.

    Why the hypocrisy. I would not have wasted my time creating an account with them.

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  8. They are not accepting international workers? There are other platforms but amazon is the best. I'm from Venezuela.

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  9. hi....i was working in amazon(mturk).i made around $1000 they paid one time but the next time when i requested for 2nd payment and i had balance of $240 then they suspended my account they didnt pay any amount ,my account approval rate was 98% .they took all the money ..they are thief ...dnt trust them any time they can suspend your account without any reason .my amazon worker id-A2LG0SJYIUIRNC..I lost total 400+240=640$

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  10. How can one international work commit fraud by changing their ip address because every worker has to submit their id card like pan card or passport...Do amazon think that every country other than US issue multiple pan card and passport with different number?

    actually this is an easy way to cheat mturk worker outside US.
    if they are not cheater then why the hell on earth they took all the money from mturk worker account...I lost 640$.. $400 they already sent to me and it was on the way but after 2moonth i did not receive that also..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am currently dealing with a very similar situation. I was working in my Amazon account, and I accumulated a small amount of money. I went to the process of verifying my account, entering my Social Security number, and then a few days later I received notice that my account had been suspended. The money that is in my account is still there. What will Amazon do with the money that I earned? Will they return it to the requester? Or will they keep it? If they keep the money are they violating US law in any way? If so, do I have any recourse against them?

      I think that it is very sad that a company like Amazon would set up a system where American citizens can work for them, but at Amazon's discretion, the money that they make can be taken from them. This type of garnishment of wages would not work with any other company. The simply the fact that they are online that makes them feel as if they have this type of authority.

      Apparently, the suspension of my account is under review. They say that I will only receive information if they choose to reverse the suspension. If, my suspension is not reversed I think I will seriously look into what legal recourse I may have.

      Delete
  11. this is surya from India. they rejected my request for worker simply not givin any reason ihavn't applied earlier or done work earlier I strongly back that international workers specially asians are not allowed to work in mturk. this is reality this is 100% true

    ReplyDelete
  12. Amazon Uses Buffer
    As soon as they have a international registration they put the message stating it is declined and put in queue to be delivered after two days
    when paypal can verify why not amazon.
    if they are not so reliable about the security with payment or verification,
    why sell in international markets ???

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  13. Im so disappointed with this online jobs,plz do give chance for asian people.

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  14. A talk from Amazon in Australia suggested people should sign up for Mechanical Turk. Unfortunately even though the registration allows you to specify a non-US address and phone number, it neglects to tell you that you're wasting your time until after you try to find a task.

    Very poor UI design with respect to sign up process, and poor thought given by Amazon staff speaking outside of USA.

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  15. Yep that is still true in 2014. Am Australian and just got the standard rejection letter....

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  16. is mturk excluding internation works these days ? i am not from the USA . does this mean i cant work in mturk ? any answers?

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  17. Would be nice if it just said united states residents only somewhere, then I wouldn't have bothered clicking apply, saving us all time.

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  18. Hellow any chance for future work Indian People allowed for Mturk. Already iam registered but not accept my account so request

    ReplyDelete