An interesting post about the distribution of Mechanical Turk work using Amazon Web Services to a similar effect as the Mycroft Network.

The recent change to Mechanical Turk allows the hoster of questions to have more control within the Mechanical Turk site:

Instead of a set of questions in a QuestionForm, you can create a HIT that uses a question form hosted by an external web site. Amazon Mechanical Turk will display the web site in a frame in the worker’s browser, in the middle of the Mechanical Turk worker interface. When the worker submits your form, the form submits the data back to Mechanical Turk. The external form’s fields become the fields in the HIT’s answer. Using an external question gives you complete control over the appearance and behavior of the question form.

Bitporters suggest that this would allow a visitor to a site to complete tasks which would assist the site and provide an alternative way to contributing rather than donating money. They also suggest a further step of being able to incorporate external question hosting into desktop applications and dub this Workware – involving the completion of micro tasks before being able to use the software.

This seemingly simple change to Mechanical Turk could expand the horizons for crowdsourcing.


  • This post has been updated since comments on this blog pointed out inaccuracies. Thanks.
  • The Bitporters post has been picked up on the O’Reilly Radar.

2 Responses to AMTSense

  1. Phil says:

    “allows the hosting of questions on an external site allowing a user to complete a piece of work without visiting Mechanical Turk.”

    Unfortunately, that’s wrong: workers still do all the work on the Mechanical Turk site itself. It’s just that some of the actual HIT is hosted on another site. Some HITs can be made of iframes. This is good for some requesters, who want to build HITs that are more complex than just the stuff MT currently lets you build.

  2. crowdsource says:

    Technically and purely based on fact, you’re right! I’ve updated the entry. Thanks for the feedback!

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