About the project

Version 1.0

“Treat your workers with respect and dignity. Workers are not numbers and statistics. Workers are not lab rats. Workers are people and should be treated with respect.” – turker ‘T’, a Turkopticon moderator

This project is organized by the workers of Turkopticon who have deliberated on what constitutes good and fair treatment of workers who power the world’s computer systems. Over 100 workers have signed these guidelines and they will be revisited and revised through a collective process. This is a guide to avoiding harm, including unintended harm, of Amazon Mechanical Turk workers in support of the ACM Code of Ethics: https://www.acm.org/code-of-ethics#h-1.1-contribute-to-society-and-to-human-well-being,-acknowledging-that-all-people-are-stakeholders-in-computing.”

Use Dynamo Guidelines[1] as a shortcut to quickly reach this document.

As of August 21st 2014, the guidelines and all subpages are locked. To learn more about how future changes will happen, see Meta: Maintaining the guidelines

Goal: Guidelines that IRB will use to approve responsible AMT research

Plenty of academic research passes through AMT or is about Turkers, but ethics boards (IRBs) who review and approve research protocols often don’t know how workers want to be treated. Turkers have collectively authored these guidelines to help educate researchers and let Turkers hold them accountable to a higher standard.

For Turkers: what can you do when these guidelines are violated?

If an academic requester is not being a positive member of the Mechanical Turk marketplace and community, Turkers may want to reach out to fix the situation. If a Turker wants to report concerns about a HIT that may be in violation, they can email turkopticon Dynamo@turkopticon.net.

Dynamo members may then:

  • Encourage the worker to email the requester, and to CC Dynamo@turkopticon.net. Turkopticon can help provide a template email to make sure it’s framed well, and provide feedback.

  • If there is no timely response or inadequate response from the requester, the TO Committee can help the worker adapt a template email to contact the requester’s IRB.

  • If there is no timely response or inadequate response from the IRB, and if it’s a serious problem, the TO Committee helps the worker adapt a template email to colleagues of the researcher, or to other administrators at the university, as appropriate. (Use this option sparingly!)

Resources and template emails for these communications are available here: Resources for communicating with requesters.

These are suggestions and resources available for MTurk workers to utilize if and when they choose, not an obligatory plan of action.

Basics of how to be a good requester

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