Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to Pay Less than 20%, Minimum Pricing on Mechanical Turk

When Amazon changed their pricing structure in July, a lot of the focus was on the huge commission increase directed towards Academic requesters. Academic requesters were not the only one's impacted, everyone using the platform was hit with huge price increases.

One very small group of requesters actually saw a price decrease. Requesters who were using the "Masters" qualifications had their fees reduced from 30% to 25%.  But for everyone else on the Mechanical Turk platform, July 21st, 2015 was a difficult day requiring hard budgetary decisions.

These fractions of cents may seem insignificant to a requester who only needs to publish 100 HITs or is only publishing a one-time batch, but as the number of HITs increases and the number of times the batches are published increases, the costs really begin to add up.

There are some loopholes in the minimum pricing structure because of rounding rules in their pricing structure.
From the Amazon pricing page

What rounding rules are applied when calculating fees?
After the fee is calculated, we round half up amounts greater than $0.01 – we round down if the fractional amount is less than half a penny, and round up otherwise. For example, $0.104 is rounded to $0.10, $0.105 is rounded to $0.11, and $0.108 is rounded to $0.11.

These rounding rules will allow you to get the most out of your Mturk HIT publishing.
Let's address some optimum payments and optimum costs so that you actually pay Amazon the minimum amount possible for the maximum number of responses.
We are not going to discuss publishing HITs at $0.00 or $0.01 because both of those payments are unethical and paying 100% commission is bad business. We are also not going to discuss minimum payments using "Masters" qualification because it is an unnecessary up-charge that can be eliminated using the proper qualifications.

Yes, increasing payment to reduce commission is a fools game unless it is done wisely.

If you have a rate the photo task and you are paying $0.02 per photo, a 50% commission is paid to Amazon for each task.

It is better to design your HIT where the worker rates 3 photos per HIT and you pay .06 to reduce your commission down to 16.6% as opposed to the 50% commission you would pay with a single photo in each task.


  1. But let's remember trying to maximize a low % is a fools game. Paying $0.03 is always better than $0.07 regardless of how much your % is to Amazon.

  2. Not when you can combine tasks to decrease commission. One of the older blog posts discusses this issue. I will probably modify this post to clarify.

    Thank you