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The Up Side of Microtasking

11:16 AM, Jul 16, 2012 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Last week I wrote a long exegesis on microtasking and the future of temporary, remote workers. I only dabbled in microtasking on Amazon's Mechanical Turk exchange, but reader D. Bush uses it often and writes in about her experience:

I work on Amazon Turk and live in the U.S. I post on the Turk boards and talk to all the other Turkers too.  The work pays very little, it's true. I make anywhere from $4 to $10 a day. This is working 4-6 hours a day. Before I "optimized" my earnings, by following all the tips and tricks on the boards, I was making a dollar a day.

Going from 30 dollars a month in extra cash to $100-$300 (usually the lesser) made a huge difference. I wouldn't call this being employed though. I also wouldn't consider Mechanical Turk to be a main source of income, ever. I don't think anyone could live on those wages, while paying for Internet and their computer, unless they had 6 roommates.

However, when we didn't have enough money for presents, groceries, the water bill, or some other small expense, Mechanical Turk pulled us through. We live in Arkansas in a rural part of the state. Jobs are hard to come by. When my husband lost his job, and all we had to subsist on was my child support from my previous marriage, Amazon Mechanical Turk was the only place hiring. It gave us just enough extra to get by until our finances improved. So maybe, I hope, decoupling from geography will help those of us too far from traditional employment to have some sort of regular income.

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