HITs ‘dried up’ when Amazon raised prices

Remember about a year or so ago, when Amazon upped the prices on the types of HITs most academic requesters post? We wondered how it would effect workers. This article shares the story of one worker:

“But after Amazon increased the fee it charged “requesters” to post HITs to 20 per cent of what they pay workers, he says HITs dried up and pay rates dropped. “Now we as workers have to be competing against other workers to grab these good HITs.” Lately he has discovered a newer site, Sticky Crowd, which shows him videos and web pages and uses his webcam to track exactly what he looks at and what he ignores — useful information for advertisers. The pay is better: a dollar for every 2-3 minutes of eye-tracking. ”

I wonder if anyone has looked at actual decreases in academic work, or if we just have anecdotal evidence.

Why Turkers’ employment status matters

This new article on the gig economy talks about why it is important that we consider the legal status of workers on MTurk as well as Uber drivers, etc. It reports on several new legal statutes that identify certain type of workers are actual employees, not freelancer. Why do we care?

“Misclassification not only impacts on workers’ incomes, but it also deprives them of essential workplace protections and social security benefits. Crucially, their ability to join trade unions and bargain collectively is also heavily curtailed.”

It also calls for a re-think of current standards:

“The legal tests for determining employment status may need some adapting to take into account, amongst other things, temporal aspects of digital work (do you get paid from the moment you turn on the Uber app or when you accept a job?) and workers switching between platforms. However, these issues are not insurmountable and can be addressed within existing labour law frameworks.”

Good article.

Turkers have higher scientific literacy…

…than the average American. Not surprising, at all, since Turkers tend to more educated.

“We report that the online population performed substantially better on this standard assessment than the traditional survey population. For example, it has been widely reported that 1 in 4 Americans does not know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, whereas among the online population, this ratio is reduced to 1 in 25. While new online platforms provide researchers with unprecedented ease of access to a large sample population for studying trends in public knowledge and attitudes, generalizing from online population samples to the US population at large poses a considerable challenge.”

Cite: Cooper, E. A., & Farid, H. (2016). Does the Sun revolve around the Earth? A comparison between the general public and online survey respondents in basic scientific knowledge. Public Understanding of Science, 25(2), 146-153.

1 in 3 Americans work in the gig economy

Wait what? Yes it is true, according to this post in US News and World report that cites McKinsey research.


“Alll told, though, only 32 percent of America’s independent workforce is using gig work as a primary form of income by choice. Forty percent are considered “casual earners” and use gig work as a supplement to their earnings. And 28 percent would like traditional, full-time employment but are working in independent roles out of necessity.”

Growth in the gig economy

CNBC posted some interesting information about the economics of crowdsourcing.


  • In the past 20 years, gig work has increased at a much faster rate than traditional full time work
  • 81% of the growth comes from the 25 largest metro areas
  • “Rides and rooms” fuel the growth
  • The growth produces societal issues, particularly regarding health care: workers will rely more on health exchanges

Good to have some real numbers for all this!

Xers and Boomers and MTurk

According to this story:

A recent study in the U.S, by Inuit and Emergent Research, revealed that the number of Americans working on-demand jobs will rise twofold in the next five years, from 3.2 million to 7.6 million people.

It’s not just the Millennials working in the on-demand economy, either.  Generation X and the Baby Boomers make up 36% and 24% of on-demand workers, respectively. On-demand workers are now also more highly qualified than ever before: 87% have some form of college degree or higher. But in all, unlike those working the full-time and traditional, 40-hour week, a whopping 70% of on-demand workers report to being satisfied with their work arrangements.