By Deane Barker on October 4, 2006

Amazon Mechanical Turk: I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this before, given that’s almost a year old.

Amazon’s MTurk service is an API to match people up with Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) for them to complete and get paid.

HIT stands for Human Intelligence Task. These are tasks that people are willing to pay you to complete. For example a HIT might ask: “Is there a pizza parlour in this photograph?” Typically these tasks are extraordinarily difficult for computers, but simple for humans to answer.

The Wikipedia page is very interesting, as is this article about it.



  1. I’ve been using Mechanical Turk for a few months, and it’s got great potential although the learning curve is steep. There are some user-friendly tools out there that allow you to tap into Amazon’s labor pool, but they are still very very beta.

    The so-called Turker community has been trying to fill in the gaps – good places for follow-up reading include Turker Nation for specifics, and Paylancers (my own blog) for big-picture issues.

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