A Look at Crowdopolis: Sharon Chiarella of Amazon on Micro-Tasking

During the last few years, crowdsourcing has gained both its proponents and its critics. To weed out the good from the bad, the folks at DailyCrowdsource.com are hosting their one-day event, Crowdopolis, on July 19, 2012. They were kind enough to connect ReveNews with several speakers from the event. Today’s Q&A comes from Sharon Chiarella, Vice President at Amazon and Head of Amazon Mechanical Turk, one of the largest online marketplaces for work that provides programmatic access to a global crowdsourcing community.

1. For someone new to the concept of micro-tasking, what do you see as the biggest benefit?

The benefit is the ability to distribute work to many individuals who can work in parallel to complete the work very quickly. Marketplaces like Amazon Mechanical Turk allow businesses to get projects done more quickly by leveraging a global workforce that is available around the clock.

2. What do you see as the most misunderstood aspect of micro-tasking?

Many people assume that the projects are small because the tasks are small. But many of the projects on Mechanical Turk are quite large. For instance we have retailers (including Amazon itself) who use Mechanical Turk to clean their databases. These databases contain millions of products, but the task is typically to tag or provide missing data for one product or to determine if two products are the same. Similarly many companies use Mechanical Turk to moderate user-generated content. Each task asks a Worker to evaluate one post or image against the site’s guidelines but together these Workers are moderating entire sites.

3. You’ve talked before about the community self-policing, but as the pool of micro-taskers continues to grow, do “matchmakers” like Mechanical Turk need to do more to root out scammers?

We know that some Requesters have very specific requirements and want the flexibility to qualify their own Workers. We give them the ability to do that but we also provide generic qualifications as well. For instance, earlier this year we introduced Categorization Masters and Moderation Masters. These Masters are Workers who have demonstrated the ability to accurately complete categorization or moderation tasks for multiple Requesters across the Mechanical Turk Marketplace.

4. Why should someone attend Crowdopolis?

Crowdsourcing gives companies flexibility and agility. It gives companies a competitive advantage by allowing them to move faster than their competition. Thought leaders should attend Crowdopolis if they want to learn how to take advantage of this and gain an advantage.

About Britt Raybould

Britt Raybould has a passion for telling stories and she specializes in helping companies figure out how to tell their own stories. Through her firm, Write Bold, she shows companies how storytelling can define them, both to their customers and within their industry. When she remembers to, Britt blogs on her personal sites at bold-words.com and brittraybould.com. You can find Britt on Twitter @britter.

Twitter: britter

One Response to A Look at Crowdopolis: Sharon Chiarella of Amazon on Micro-Tasking

  1. Great interview.  Looking forward to the event!