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Where’s Willie?

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When Amazon launched Mechanical Turk in 2005, they had no idea all the uses people would find for it. It was one of the first “Web Services” that didn’t relate to the retail website. The idea was along the lines of “build it and they will come.”

Case in point – searching for the family dog. 13 year old Willie was reportedly abducted in December of 2006. His owners went the traditional route of neighborhood posters and classified ads. They then turned to the web with a webpage , blog, and even a YouTube video.

It’s now February and Willie is still missing. How do they get the word out to more people? One way is by offering to pay Mechanical Turk workers to post the story on the web for $.10 a piece. When I first saw the “HIT” as they’re called, there were 125 available. I don’t know how many were originally offered, but $10 for 100 posting on the web seems like a pretty good deal! Not much more expensive than a flier, and certainly lower than the cost in time of trying to post in 100 different places yourself. They’re also offering an incentive of $100 if a worker’s ad leads to the recovery of Willie. The bonus is key to getting good results. While many workers will perform HITs for as low as a penny or two, those are mostly repetitive tasks. Many workers will work a HIT like this in order to break the monotony and in hopes of receiving the bonus.

It’s a clever use of technology, one that was borne, I fear, out of desperation for a lost pet. If you know anyone in Pasedena, let them know about Willie. Here’s hoping he’s returned home soon!


Written by oban89

February 20, 2007 at 8:11

Posted in AWS