Mechanical Turk Transcribers FAQ
How can I become a transcriber?
We post all of our work at Mechanical Turk (mturk.com). There are currently three ways to get paid. You get paid either via a transfer to your US bank account; you can receive Amazon.com store credit; workers in India have the option of receiving bank checks denominated in Indian Rupees.
- Sign up at mturk.com.
- Request the PPT (Transcriber) Qualification. All you have to do is check a box and we give you a score high enough to start on some work with.
- Now you are good to go. Here's a search for all of our transcription HITs. Find one that looks interesting, accept it (make sure you hit the Accept Button), and get to work!
What are turkers?
Turkers are the (not-so) secret ingredient of CastingWords.com. They do the transcribing and editing. They get to work from anywhere they want with a computer and Internet connection, and on their own time. No obligations
What is the Unique Id Qualification?
This qualification gives you an id unique to you. You can use this qual to accept certain HITs, and also, you can request your MTurk Worker Id using your Unique Id Qualification Score.
Why is the Qual test not a test?
We are using an older school version of quals than many on Turk do, as we're the oldest requester (other than Amazon). This version required a test, even if you didn't want to give one, so we ask if you want to work for us, and tell you that confidentiality is required - then grant you a score.
How do Qual scores work?
We start everyone's PPT qualification at 80, and we usually have work at that level. As you work on our HITs, your score will increase, usually in line with assignment grades. It tends to rise quickly at the beginning, and slow down as you approach 100. At 90 you can work on our "Express" transcripts, while 99 is the minimum score required to work on Expedited Transcriptions.
This is the general course that all our our quals take - not just the PPT.
How do Grades work? (Transcription and Edits)
Grades are composed of 3 parts - your graders, your track record, and our automated quality checks. And beyond that anyone at CastingWords can override the final grade during a certain time window. Given that the time window is short for most assignments that are done by good workers, or due soon to customers that happens only for a minority of hits.
Our automated checks are mainly used for rejecting bad work quickly. However we do have metrics influence grades of accepted work. Most of our checks are indicators of poor quality, however we do have a few items that correlate with high quality and can increase your grade.
Your track record is also part of the grade - the longer you've done work for us the less likely it is that you'll get a poor grade. But this component has a highly stabilizing effect - if all you turn in is 7s for months - getting 9s is going to be harder. (8s should be easy enough.)
The grades the graders assign are the most important part of you grade. However these grades do not say it all in the numbers. Your graders are not all trusted the same so some graders grades matter more than others, and additionally certain types of grades - the kinds with long written descriptions matter more. Finally certain checkboxes that your graders assign can change the overall grade away from their number assigned number grade.
- How do I find out my Worker Id?
If you know your Unique Id Qualification Value, you can request your Worker Id.
How to find your Unique Id Qualification Value:
- Go to your "Qualifications" tab on the Turk website
- Go to the last page of your "Qualifications" list
- Look for "Unique Id Qualification" in the list
- Go to the WorkerID URL above and put in the number that appears after "Qualification Value"
If you don't have the Unique Id qualification yet, then request the Unique Id Qualification.
- I want feedback on my HITs!
You can get feedback now. Go to turkers.castingwords.com and plug in your Worker Id. You will see notes and grades for your assignments. Note however, that we take turker-suggested grades with a grain of salt.
- $%@!# turker gave me a low grade!
Some people are harsher than others. And yes sometimes they are bad graders.
- I need longer to work on this HIT - is there any way to do this?
Yes, you can request an extension from us.
Request an Extension.
You absolutely have to do this before your HIT expires. We will give you a token. Submit this as the HIT answer on MTurk right away. Then when you are done with the transcript, you just submit it to us at the castingwords site. This is great for when MTurk puts out downtime notices, or if you have flaky internet, or know you need a little extra time.
If you are down to the wire, just put what you have in with a comment saying you will email us by such-and-such time with the rest of the transcription.
- %$#@t!!! I just did a long transcription and it expired before I could submit it. Help!
Unfortunately, if the HIT expires, it gets added back to the pool of HITs - and someone else can take it. If it is that close to expiring, you should Request an Extension.
- #@!!$%! I just did a long transcription and then I accidentally submitted a blank answer instead.
Email us the answer, and the URL of the audio. If you do that right away, we won't reject it and won't knock your score down low because we think you are a cheater.