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 It is no longer active forum because of the halts on new international accounts.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.
 

40 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

    ReplyDelete
    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.

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

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

    ReplyDelete
  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 $240 then they suspended my account they didnt pay any amount ,my account approval rate was 98% .they took all the money ..they are thief ...dnt trust them any time they can suspend your account without any reason .my amazon worker id-A2LG0SJYIUIRNC..I lost total 400+240=640$

    ReplyDelete
  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 ???

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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

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

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  19. AMAZON mturk is not direct paying, requester only pay the amount to worker through their website so Mturk is the third party site. More over while verification worker have to submit PAN, PASSPORT scanned copy how mturk says international user specially india not allowed to work though we have unique identifications? Indian also have AADHAR CARD which is equal to SSN of U.S. why don't they consider this??? Amazon want to do business across international and in INDIA they want to make money with Indians but don't allow to work in mturk, think about it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      There is an option for PAN card, which is easily available after giving valid proof's. So try that, I also got payments from MTurk by validating using PAN card for a huge number of time.

      Delete
  20. After reading this post (and hearing about this issue from others), I decided to try my luck and register as a mechanical Turk just to investigate this issue. Surprisingly, I got accepted! (I am living in the middle east and I listed a middle eastern country as my country of residence). This is very confusing and it is unfair of them that they aren't declaring clear rules of getting accepted. Here is the e-mail I got from them

    From: Mechanical Turk
    Date: Sun, Jun 1, 2014 at 9:20 AM
    Subject: Registration Invitation from Amazon Mechanical Turk
    To:


    Greetings from Amazon Mechanical Turk,

    Congratulations, your Mechanical Turk account has been approved.
    Please follow this link to complete the registration process.
    https://www.mturk.com/mturk/beginsignin

    Here's some important information about working on Mechanical Turk.

    1) Requesters approve or reject your work within 30 days.
    Requesters determine whether to pay you within 30 days of submitting
    your HITs. Amazon Mechanical Turk does not determine when to approve
    or reject and does not estimate when your HITs will be approved. In
    the event you have questions about the content of a HIT or the approval
    status you can contact the Requester directly:
    https://www.mturk.com/mturk/help?helpPage=worker#work_rejected

    2) Your work quality is important.
    Completing HITs accurately will ensure that Requesters will want you to
    continue to work for them. Read instructions thoroughly, answer HITs
    accurately, and return HITs you are unable to complete correctly, to
    build a positive reputation as a Worker. Keep in mind that returned or
    abandoned HITs will not affect your rating.

    3) Report HITs that violate the Mechanical Turk policies:
    You should not provide personal information in the HIT or register for
    another website while working HITs on Mechanical Turk. Please report
    any violating HITs using the "violates Amazon Mechanical Turk policies"
    link at the bottom right of the HIT. To see examples of HITs that
    violate the policies, visit this link:
    https://www.mturk.com/mturk/help?helpPage=policies#violation_examples

    4) Keep your computer secure:
    When you complete HITs on Mechanical Turk, you are accessing the
    internet to perform work for Requesters that are not Amazon. We
    recommend that you secure your computer with the latest operating
    system security updates and virus protection software, update your
    browser and plug-ins with the latest versions, and use caution when
    directed to other websites.

    5) Payment delays and daily HIT limit for new Workers:
    For quality assurance purposes, new Workers can only complete a limited
    number of HITs (Human Intelligent Tasks) each day. Payments from
    Requesters are delayed for 10 days until you have submitted at least
    one HIT a day for at least 10 days. Your payments will show the
    "Approved Pending Payment" status in your dashboard during this delay
    period.

    Additional information can be found within our FAQ,
    https://www.mturk.com/mturk/help?helpPage=worker
    We're excited to have you join the Amazon Mechanical Turk Worker
    Community!

    Sincerely,
    Amazon Mechanical Turk
    https://www.mturk.com
    410 Terry Avenue North
    SEATTLE, WA 98109-5210 USA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting, that is great to hear. Maybe they have changed or opened it up to certain countries?

      Delete
    2. Hi,

      Ok, I think there might be a reason (as silly one perhaps!) to why they approved my account. I use my Amazon account with "shop and ship" service for shipment. With that service, I get a US shipment address (I live in the middle east) that I use. When I wanted to register as a MTurker, I used the same e-mail I am using with my Amazon main account. They asked me first to sign in with my Amazon account and then I was asked about my address (country of residence, street address etc.). Later on after getting accepted, I noticed that in my Amazon account I now have two addresses, the US one and my local one I provided when registering as MTurker and of course these address are linked to my MTurk account. It might be the case that they considered that I have a "US" address and approved my account based on that.

      Anyone got into a similar situation?

      Delete
  21. I'm from Canada and received my rejection this morning . . .

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm another one from outside the US who have just got rejected. What a waste of time.

    Regards from Spain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its not a waste of time buddy, I think they will change their restrictions towards international workers in future. At that time you will be mailed with their invitation.

      Delete
  23. Amazon should also restrict their sells to US residents too. Amazon sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am another one who disappointed when amazon not accepted my registration, but hope so they will start accepting outsiders.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm English and just got my rejection email despite just listening to a talk given by Amazon in the UK about this. Why not just state that they currently don't want international workers?

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have always had high regards of Amazon for their professionalism and clear rules. However, having had received the unfortunate rejection email from AMT I am confused and disappointed. This is definitely not a good PR for Amazon. Yes, I get it there are a lot of scammers who ruin it for all the honest international workers out there. But how about making the verifying system a little bit more efficient to weed the scammers and hold on tight to the dedicated ones...? I come from Europe and honestly, US$ means something here and I would definitely be willing to work for it. Shame...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is unfortunate. Although even if they accepted you, you would only receive payment in Amazon gift cards. The only countries that receive payment in cash are India and the United States.

      Delete