Making money online with Amazon Mechanical Turk (Mturtk) is the hard road to take. If you’ve read some of my posts, then you definitely caught some of my ambivalence about Mturk.
In some ways I see Mturk as being a modern version of the sweatshop. Instead of a thousand workers being housed under one hot, steamy roof with tyrannical pit bosses with a whips walking up and down the aisles ready to “incentivize” the less productive, you have lots of workers all over the world in their own private sweatshops -- sans pit bosses.
In an earlier post, I told you the results of a survey conducted with Mturk workers. One of the questions in that survey is really the best framing device for answering the question as to whether Mturk is moral or not.
The question asked:
Is the money you make on Amazon Mechanical Turk your primary source of income?
Only 12% of the U.S. respondents answered yes to this question. Workers from India responded with 28% affirmative.
So, in the U.S. no one is really making you work for Mturk.
But does that justify the shamefully low wages offered by requesters on Mturk? Because no one makes anyone work on the HITs, it’s okay to pay a someone a sub-standard pay for work? The bottom line: Is it okay to exploit people that allow themselves to be exploited?
Certainly the vast majority of workers on Mturk could walk away from Mturk and find a way to earn similar or better wages. This does seem to true. Sure, just about anyone who works on Mturk could go out and find job, but in this economy, some people need the money they get on Mturk to make ends meet and jobs aren’t the most plentiful things out there.
In the free market world of capitalism, anything goes I guess. Freedom means the freedom to be exploited or starve. It’s all about about choices. Some choices just aren’t as enjoyable as others.