Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Moving Forward with Mechanical Turk - To Participants

Hi all,

As most of you are aware, Amazon increased fees yesterday. For academic requesters this is a pretty big deal because Amazon singled them out to pay a 40% commission on hits from the previous 10%.
If for some reason they want to use masters (which even after two years the system defaults to), the fee is 45%.

We have published surveys for over 100 different academics last year, we work with at least a dozen requesters on Mturk who publish surveys and we work with many commercial customers as well. We are all hit hard by this and as you have seen there has been a massive exodus of large requesters from Mturk.

For commercial customers, the fee increased to 20%, which is not that big of a deal, but for academics to have a fee increased to 40%, it is huge.

Let's consider that an academic wants to publish (500) 15 minute studies and wants to pay workers $2.50 per study.
Under the old pricing, they would pay Amazon $125, now they would have to pay Amazon $500.

There is a way around this fee though and that is to publish HITs as batches. We are working with others and sharing our code to help all of us only pay the 20% commission that is available to batch requesters.

Basically you set up your HIT as a batch with the .csv file having the survey link in it. You insert a no repeat javascript into the code so that although there may be 500 hits available, you can only accept one.

I am sure a lot of you have seen this in Sergey hits or hits from multiple requesters where it says something like  "You have already accepted the maximum number of HITs for this requester, please return", this is what will be the new way to publish surveys without paying the horrendous fee from Amazon. If you accept two HITs, you will have to return one.
We all know that return rate "can" be used as a qualification using the API, but we also all know it rarely is because there is no point to it. Returning a HIT is not that big of a deal and is far better than being rejected for taking a HIT multiple times and it is also (in our opinion) acceptable so that we can transfer a fair wage to participants as opposed to giving that money to Amazon.

I just want to make everyone aware that this is a necessity. In order to pay a fair wage, we cannot pay Amazon a 40% commission when others are being charged half of that and other platforms are much less expensive. I understand that there are many requesters who do not pay a fair wage on Mturk and this is not going to help with the overall struggle, but we are going to continue pricing our HITs at $9 minimum. If the customers go to other platforms, so be it, at least we know we are doing the right thing and behaving in an ethical manner and from the tens of thousands of HITs we have published in the last year, we know that all of our academic customers feel the same way.


  1. Can you clarify what you mean about inserting a no-repeat into your request's javascript?


  2. Can you clarify what you mean about insertin gpmi