UXBRIDGE, U.K., Feb. 12, 2014 – Turking is a term that refers to crowds of people who perform tasks that computers don’t do well, such as picking details out of images. If a city government wants to count the number of parking meters covered in graffiti, for example, it can pay “Turkers” nominal amounts of money to click through thousands of photographs and tag the meters that need to be cleaned up.

Xerox researchers recently studied this online marketplace, exploring who Turkers are, how they carry out human intelligence tasks (HITs) and how crowds are designed and controlled to get this “invisible” work done.

Their findings will be presented this week at the Association for Computing Machinery conference on computer supported cooperative work and social computing (CSCW), which runs Feb. 15-17 in Baltimore.

Scientist David B. Martin, from Xerox Research Centre Europe, will present “Being a Turker.” The paper was written by XRCE researchers Martin and Benjamin Hanrahan, Neha Gupta from Nottingham University currently visiting XRCE, and a former colleague Jacki O’Neill.

Below are just five of the many findings the research unearthed:

  1. Relationships are key: Turkers like anonymity and flexibility but want decent working relationships with courteous communication. They want fair pay for fair work (decent wages, fairness in judging work, timely payment…) and respect works both ways: good requesters are prized.
  2. Members on Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) see Turking as work and are primarily motivated by earning.
  3. Earnings vary but Turking is low wage work: high earners on Turker Nation make ~ €11-12k/yr.
  4. Workers aspire to earn at least €5-7/hr., but (newbies especially) do lower paid HITs to increase their reputation and HIT count.
  5. Many Turkers choose AMT because they cannot find a good ‘regular’ job or need other income. Some are housebound; others are in circumstances where Turking is one of the few options to earn.

To learn more about the paper, read a recent post by Martin on a crowdresearch blog.

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Media Contacts: Sonia Panchal, Xerox Europe, +44 (0) 1895 842 877, sonia.panchal@xerox.com

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