I decided to give the Mechanical Turk (run by amazon.com) a go the other day. The concept is good - people with some free time and/or skills can take up offered "piece work" via the internet. An article about it gave an example of an software engineer who had made $1,400 in his spare time in front of the TV.
Unfortunately, when I had a look at the site, most of the work listed was either worthless (1c to create a link to a site), or a rip-off (a few cents to "test a script" - which turns out to be clicking on some and registering for some information, which obviously will earn the "test script" writer more than he/she is paying you, and is basically click-fraud). The few legit tasks seemed to be transcription of audio files.
A simple enough task I thought - just download a 5 minute sound bite and type the conversation into word... So I "took" the job, thinking that the 60 mins allowed should be plenty of time, after all the task only paid $2.00. The audio file download took 5 mins (I have a cable connection) and I had no trouble playing the file. So far, so good. However, after a few minutes of listening to a few words, hitting pause, tabbing to Word, typing in the words, tabbing back to the audio player, rewinding and checking I'd typed the correct transcription - it became obvious that this would be a s-l-o-w process.
TWO HOURS LATER -- after dealing with background interruptions (baby crying etc), and some parts of the audio where the two people on the tape were talking over the top of each other, I finally finished page and a half transcription of the 5 min soundbite. Then, when I tabbed back to the Mechanical Turk page open on my browser - the task had expired! All that time and effort for NOTHING.
Ah, well. Lesson learned. Being a Mechanical Turk might be a suitable job for an off-duty call centre worker in India, but it just isn't worth my time. No matter how much I like to earn a few bucks in my "spare time".