How It Works

One of the best ways to understand Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is to add a HIT to the MTurk marketplace and see what the experience is like. Get started with Amazon Mechanical Turk and try it out for yourself.

Get Started with Amazon Mechanical Turk

Defining HITs

How a HIT is defined is critical to ensuring you get exactly the information you are seeking. Workers tend to gravitate to HITs that are interesting, straightforward to complete, and provide clear guidance on what they are expected to do. The easier you can make it for Workers to complete your HIT, the faster your work will be completed, and the more cost-efficient it will be. HITs that are constructed well have very clear questions and instructions. They communicate exactly how the question should be answered and the components that are expected as part of the response. Sample responses can be helpful as well in communicating to the Worker exactly the type of response you are looking for.

Determining Your Price

It is important to keep in mind the dynamics of a marketplace when defining your tasks. MTurk brings together a pool of Workers and companies that need work completed. Workers are free to work on the tasks they find most interesting, the tasks they enjoy completing or the tasks that pay the most. You may choose to offer higher rates for certain high priority tasks in order to attract more Workers and increase throughput, while you may pay less when you have more flexibility with regard to when it is completed.

Submitting HITs

HITs can be submitted either through a simple online interface if you want to get started quickly, or by using the MTurk web services API or the command line tools if you have a large volume of work. When you submit a HIT, you will need to specify how long Workers have to complete the work, how many people you want to complete each task, how much you will pay for the work, and specific details around what work you want completed.

Qualifying Your Workforce

MTurk offers the ability to first qualify Workers before they are allowed to work on your tasks. Qualifications can consist of a short series of questions or sample tasks that you ask the Workers to complete. You can also require that Workers have historically answered a minimum percentage of their submitted HITs correctly. There are several reasons why you might want to qualify Workers. Your tasks might require a very specific skill set such as language translation or a particular demographic profile such as only Workers that live in Los Angeles. You may also want to use the qualification as a mechanism to illustrate how you would like your work to be completed and the kind of responses you expect.

Retrieving and Approving the Work

Once your HITs have been completed, they will be available for you via several mechanisms. You can log on to the MTurk website and view the submitted work. Additionally, you can download all of your completed work via the web services APIs. After you have received the results and have verified the quality of the work, you can approve the work and submit payment to the Workers.

Paying for Completed Work

Before you can submit HITs to the Amazon MTurk marketplace, you need to prepay for them with a credit or debit card. The amount associated with the HIT (price and bonus), along with the fee charged by MTurk, is automatically deducted from your Prepaid HIT balance when you approve a HIT result and the Worker is paid.

Developer Tools and Resources

MTurk provides tools and resources to help developers learn more about the service and be more productive. This includes code samples, libraries, tutorials, technical documentation and release notes. Find them in our Resource Center.