Stop Using MTurk

15 September 2020

Why now? My thought process was simple: My research output thus far has been based on underpaid labour. Do I want that to continue?

For me, the answer is no, hence why I’m going to stop using MTurk. Perhaps there are alternatives that are fair to workers, that lead to good wages and job security. Linguistic data is important, and more so when it comes from a diverse population. But I don’t think paying miniscule amounts of money to obtain it is something to be proud of. We can do better.


I’ve been thinking more about this topic after a research seminar discussion – would ensuring that workers get paid atleast $10 per hour fix the problem? It certainly ensures that they get paid a decent wage by you. A few requesters making the decision to pay more(and advertising their decision) isn’t going to make the median wage go up, nor does it do much to fix the numerous other issues with how the platform treats workers. It does help in a small way, and its the least evil thing you can do on the platform.

Update 2

Fair Work is a cool resource from Stanford’s HCI group that runs a server-side script to ensure your crowd workers are paid minimum wage of $15. I found it while reading this excellent opinion piece by Glenn Davis & Klint Kanopka at The Stanford Daily. I agree with their conclusion: its upon Amazon to change the incentive structure – requesters paying workers more and being transparent helps, but from the workers perspective, it will always be a race to the bottom.