If you had not heard of AI Insights, you likely have now. In case you’ve been away for a bit, AI Insights is a newer requester that popped onto the platform about five to six weeks ago during the midst of the “slow time.” Summertime, while beloved by most people in the northern hemisphere, also means less work as universities run slimmed-down semesters and graduate students take a much-needed break.
When AI Insights showed up with a batch of HITs numbering greater than 70,000 and a 99% approval rating, workers jumped at the chance to do work on something other than surveys. The tasks were easy enough, just a click or two. This was the kind of batch that was great for newer workers to use to raise their approval rating as well. The “new batch excitement” was short-lived, however. Soon, workers began to notice all of their submissions had been rejected by the requester.
It was not long before lengthy conversations showed up on Turker forums, Reddit, and worker-run groups on social media. Turkers had emailed AI Insights asking why tasks were rejected, to find out if the rejections could be overturned, and some explained what this mass rejection meant for their approval rating. Every email was met with silence. Turkers then turned to Amazon.
It makes sense to contact Amazon. If a person looks at other marketplaces, there is recourse for poor behavior. Another popular crowdsourcing platform has an easy-to-locate informational section where workers can go to help resolve problems. Under the heading “I Don’t Believe My Rejection Was Fair,” workers can read that after a requester has been noncommunicative for a week or has not helped to resolve the issue, workers are encouraged to send a message to the platform to receive help. The platform lists what things may help them decide the next steps, such as screenshots, and they provide a contact button to easily begin the message. It stands to reason that Amazon would surely step in and help the countless workers who received a mass rejection from a requester whom they approved to be listing work on their platform, right?
You read that correctly. The time period for reversal of rejections has come and gone without any help from AMT. They received emails from frustrated workers, some of whom cannot find much work on the platform now because of the damage done to their approval rating by this scam. Some workers were given the typical Amazon response of “we don’t get involved in disputes between workers and requesters” while some workers did not receive a response at all. More than a few workers reached out to Turkopticon for help. We contacted Amazon about this issue. They DO know about it. They DID approve this requester to work on the platform. After this batch, they STILL allowed the requester to be on the platform as several workers picked up HITs, different from the large batch, within the last couple of weeks.
This doesn’t just hurt workers. When workers are being overly cautious, honest requesters have their work completed more slowly. Workers will do only a couple of HITs and wait until they approve or reject them before deciding to do more. This directly affects the product that Amazon offers, which is a quick turnaround on tasks from quality workers. So what now?
The advice we can offer isn’t anything groundbreaking. Always check a requester’s approval rating but take it with a grain of salt. Read the reviews on turkopticon.net or on Turkerview. Sadly even the most cautious worker can be affected by mass rejections and AI Insights just proved that. The system currently in place doesn’t work. Perhaps it is time for AMT to take another look at the petition delivered to them that so many of you signed. It is also time for the good requesters to demand change.
The question remains – if stepping in and reversing these rejections helps both workers and requesters, why isn’t Amazon doing anything?