Breaking News: What is Next for Turkopticon?

Following the launch of Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) in 2005, two college students had an idea for a platform that would allow AMT workers to review the requesters they worked for and the tasks they worked on. Drs. Lilly Irani and M. Six Silberman unveiled Turkopticon in 2008, a platform that did just that. For the first time, workers on AMT had a resource to help protect them from rejections, poor pay, and more. The browser extension that was developed made Turkopticon easy and convenient to use. It was the first tool of its kind and is still widely used by the turker community today.

As AMT grew in size and popularity, it became apparent that there was a need for people who could assist workers with things like suspended accounts, rejected tasks, and how to get started on the platform. It also became clear that workers were not always treated fairly and that certain AMT policies were insufficient. In 2019, Turkopticon began the process of transitioning to a worker-led, worker-run advocacy organization in addition to hosting the original tool and website.

The last five years have seen so much positive change! We have assembled a strong team of workers dedicated to improving the working conditions. Turkopticon staff developed a working relationship with Amazon. We implemented a system to help workers who have had their accounts mistakenly suspended get them reinstated. Requesters come to Turkopticon for assistance with their accounts as well. A weekly report is prepared and sent to AMT staff that reports “bad” requesters with low approval ratings. When new things pop up from Amazon, such as the DAC-7 tax form, we reach out to AMT staff for clarification to help answer worker questions. For the last couple of years, we have hosted worker forums to facilitate conversations between workers, answer questions, and offer assistance. Since this transition, we have always tried to go where we were needed.

With that being said, we have an exciting announcement!

Today there are many data-work platforms. The days of AMT being the only player in the game are long gone. With that in mind, we have decided to expand our efforts to assist ALL data workers! Going forward, we will work to improve conditions for data workers worldwide.

We will continue our work with AMT, especially our mass rejection campaign. There is still work to do and we plan on finishing what we have started. We will share updates on our social media accounts, in our newsletters, and via email.

Everyone at Turkopticon is so grateful for the support we have received over the years and we look forward to sharing this next phase with all of you. Please help us spread the word. Together we can work to improve data work for everyone!

by Krystal Kauffman