TSolo315 MturkCrowd
Six years of turking experience

Leveling Up

Maximizing Turking Efficiency

After you have gotten into the rhythm of working on Mturk, you will want to work towards making your workflow as efficient as possible. In this guide I will offer some advice on how to do so. Becoming an efficient turker takes time and experience, but implementing some of these strategies will help you speed up that process.


Workspace

Your first goal should be to organize your work environment in a way as to allow yourself to maximize productivity. On a basic level, this means making sure your workspace is (mostly) clutter free, separated from potential distractions, and relatively comfortable to work at for a prolonged period of time. If you plan on spending a significant amount of time on Mturk, investing in a decent desk or a comfortable office chair may be worthwhile. Once you are satisfied with your workspace, it's time to consider what you will need to further boost your efficiency. Picking up a second (or even a third) monitor is something many turkers find particularly helpful. This allows you to keep scrapers or other Mturk tools on one monitor while you do your work on another. This can really save you from a lot of tab and window switching, and may be the difference between catching that great HIT or being a few seconds too late. Other things to consider are a mouse that allows you to map macros to specific buttons, a decent mechanical keyboard, or a comfortable pair of headphones.


Mastering Batches

Batches are where the real money is on Mturk, and it's important to know how to best take advantage. Here are some tips:

  • If the batch is popular set a panda on it and work from your queue. This allows you to grab as many as possible and will leave you with several remaining in your queue when the batch runs dry.
  • Work in several tabs to avoid loading times. When you submit a HIT in one tab, switch to the next -- which will already be loaded. This can save you a lot of waiting time in the long run. Because of MTurk's new throttling system you may be limited to working in two tabs at once on some batches.
  • Don't be afraid to split your screen into several browser windows if appropriate for a given batch. Get comfortable thinking about how to most efficiently use available space. Multiple monitors can help with this.
  • Don't be afraid to work on batches that have no reviews. Some of the best batches are from new requesters who don't have reviews yet. It's not uncommon for a requester to lower the pay after their initial batches, so jumping on the first few runs may net you the best pay rate. Mass rejections are rare and worrying about them will cost you money (although if you are just starting out and don't have many approved HITs you should avoid doing enough that rejections will drop you below a 97% approval rating).
  • Take advantage of scripts and macros. Many batches can be made significantly easier with the right script. If there are none publicly available, consider writing your own.

Writing Scripts

Learning how to write your own scripts and macros is a surefire way to level up your turking game. While learning how to program may seem overwhelming at first, picking up the basics can often be done relatively quickly (think half an hour a day for a week or two). You don't need to dig particularly deep to learn enough to help make a batch more profitable. Autohotkey is an easy language to pick up as it is written to be intuitive and read closely to English. For those technically inclined you may be able to learn enough to be able to write simple macros in just a few hours. Most Mturk userscripts are written in Javascript, which is more challenging, but will offer more versatility. I would recommend first getting comfortable with Autohotkey and then moving on to Javascript if necessary. I have written several tutorials on how to write AutoHotkey scripts to help make HITs more efficient. They can be found here: Tutorials for Turkers: AutoHotkey.


Stay Connected

It can be hard to keep up to date with all things Mechanical Turk on your own. You just can't be staring at the MTurk HIT table all day long. In my getting started guide I recommended joining a MTurk dedicated forum, which is a fantastic start and will help significantly in this regard. If you want to take it to the next level, as a follow up I would recommend joining a turking work group. A work group consists of a group of turkers gathering in a chat room of some sort to share HITs or advice for the benefit of all in the group -- often in real time as HITs are being posted (MTurk is competitive and speed is of the essence). These work groups are not always easy to find and you may need to resort to creating your own. Turking forums are a great place to look for people to join a work group with.


Final Tips

  • It's better to catch a bad HIT and have to return it than to take the chance at missing a good HIT by previewing it before accepting.
  • Some scripts provide functionality that allows you to send an alert directly to your phone when a designated HIT is posted (through Pushbullet or something similar).
  • You can store up to 25 HITs in your HIT queue, use this to your full advantage.
  • While it may be tempting to play video games or watch Netflix while leaving scrapers running in the background, this strategy is often not very effective (trust me).
  • Mturk is wildly inconsistent. Some days will be great and you be catching HIT after HIT. Other days you won't seem to even be able to catch a mediocre survey. Bad days like this are a great time to work on your turking efficiency or scripting ability.
Learn More: AutoHotkey Tutorial