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Guide to Amazon Mechanical Turk

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Do you need an extra 10-20 dollars a week for disposable spending? If so, you may be interested in a website called Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). MTurk is not a get rich quick scheme, but rather a way for you to earn a few extra dollars in your spare time doing easy tasks online. Mturk pays you pennies to dollars to do tasks (called HITS or Human Intelligence Tasks) that a computer would not be able to do.

How to Get Started

The first thing you will have to do is sign up for Mturk. It is a pretty straight forward process. If you are worried that your data may be stolen, know that the site is a division of Amazon and that your information is secure.

Once you are signed up you have two choices to get paid. You can either receive gift cards from Amazon or you can get cash by adding a bank account. The second option requires you to have a US bank account and can be done through the My Accounts link at the top right corner of the screen.

MTurk Safety

Although the Mturk system that is pretty safe, there are some pitfalls that you need to look out for. The first major pitfall is doing work that isn't allowed in the Terms of Service. Most people who post HITS (requesters) follow the rules and will not post work that will get you into trouble. However, it is important to know what isn't allowed on MTurk. Below is a quick list of HITS that you may want to avoid due to possible problems:

*HITS that ask you to sign up or register for something.

*HITS that will boost page views for the requester such as Tweeting, "friending" on social blogging sites, voting on social bookmarking sites, or even just clicking on links.

*HITS involving secret shopping.

*HITS that ask you to fill out CAPTCHAS; these allow spammers to bypass website signup security protocols.

*HITS that involve testing or reviewing sites.

*HITS that ask you to test out online zip code systems.

*HITS that ask you to sign up for free trials.

*HITS that ask you to install software.

HITS that involve completing surveys are a bit of a grey area. Most are okay but there are some that are scams. Generally surveys conducted by colleges or for scientific research will be the most reliable.

Working on HITs

Working a HIT is just like working for a normal employer. You have deadlines and guidelines to complete your work. You can also be banned or fired from working for certain requesters if your work isn't up to par with their grading system. If you do what you are asked and you do it well you shouldn't have any issues working on Mturk.

Taxes and Laws

MTurk isn't a normal hourly job working 9-5; when you work for MTurk you are a contractor. As a contractor you don't qualify for minimum wage, vacation time, sick time, or unemployment insurance. You are also responsible for your own taxes. At the end of the year you will get 1099 form from MTurk. In order to prepare for the taxes that you will need to pay at the end of the year, you should set aside 15 to 25 percent of your MTurk earnings, depending on your state.

These are just some quick tips to help you in your quest to earn money from MTurk. With a bit of patience and diligence you should be well on your way to earning some extra spending money for the month. Above all else, remember to choose your HITS wisely and keep track of your time so that you know what hourly wage you are working for. If it drops below minimum wage, you may want to consider whether working for MTurk is a good use of your time.

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