Monthly Archives: December 2006

Amazon sells some strange things

I'm continuing my MTURK quest for a Wii.  In this process I've done a number of HITs (Human Interface Tasks) that involve tagging items for sale on Amazon.

The premise of the HIT is simple:  Does the tag effectively describe the product?  I estimate I've done over a thousand of these HITs.  They're easy and quick and even though they only pay a penny per HIT, I can cycle through them quickly.  Most of them have been books or music CDs.  So far, the strangest one I've done can be seen below:


The CSI phenomena has officially gone too far.

mturkin’ fool

"Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it."

That's the gist of Amazon's Mechanical Turk (mturk). Each piece of work submitted is called a HIT.

And, as the previous post states.  I'm going to mturk my way to enough cash to buy a Wii.

Here's the latest tally:

HITs Submitted:    2162
HITs Approved:     1822
HITs Rejected:      69
HITs Pending:       271

Total Earnings:      $28.11

I'm over a TENTH of the way there.  Assuming my wife will spot me for shipping.

Most of the HITs I've done have been fairly tedious.  Generally, they consist of things like pulling information out of scanned documents or matching codes to a master list.  By far the most humorous one I've done so far is:

"Saving bananas"   The question is what is the best way to carry a single banana in order to protect it from bruising or otherwise being damaged. 

My answer was to create a sleeve made out of the "shock lock" material being produced by d30 Labs .   They haven't paid me my ONE CENT yet for this ingenious proposition.

I’m going to mturk a Wii

A great confluence of ideas arrived to me this morning.

I'm going to use:

Amazon Mechanical Turk

To get a:


My wonderfully fiscally responsible wife has deemed the expenditure necessary to procure a Wii for Christmas unreasonable.  And I tend to agree with her. However, I've played a few games on the Wii now and am definitely intrigued.

So, my quest is to use Mturk to make enough scratch to buy a Wii.

Here's the background:

"Amazon Mechanical Turk provides a web services API for computers to integrate "artificial artificial intelligence" directly into their processing by making requests of humans." – from the FAQ for Amazon Mechanical Turk .

Basically, Mturk provides a way for humans to process certain types of data that technology is not yet capable of processing. Most often, the amount of money you earn doing Mturk tasks is related to the type of tasks performed, the accuracy with which they are performed, and the amount of valuable data collected.

So far, in approximately one month, I have accumulated $17.  The LIST price for the Nintendo Wii is $249.95  At this pace, I will have enough money to purchase a Wii in 72,378 days.  At least I won't have to wait in line to buy one by the time I've Mturk'ed enough cash.