In The New Yorker, Bassam Tariq writes about the humans behind Mechanical Turk.
"I always wanted to make a film on Mechanical Turkers but they were so rude whenever I inquired on reddit," he says, "So I paid them to answer my questions."
Turkers represent the Wild West of the crowdsourcing work force. The process of posting "human intelligence tasks" or HITs (known as "requesting") is not well regulated: there is no restriction on how much a requester can charge. I attempted to carry out one of the many HITs from ReceiptHog, a mobile app that pays users to snap photos of their grocery receipts and pays turkers to transcribe them. The illegible grocery receipt that I was assigned listed more than twenty items, and my transcription would earn me just two cents. After ten minutes of entering items incorrectly, I gave up.
Professional turkers weigh each HIT according to how much they'll earn per minute, even if it's merely pennies. So when I hoped to convince a few of them to participate in my documentary, I figured the best way to get their attention was to pay up. In the request I posted, I asked turkers if they thought it was weird that I was paying them to be in my film. "Everything has a price" one turker responded. "It literally takes all of your energy to earn pennies some days.
Turking for a Living [newyorker.com]