Forums » Campaigns » Dear Jeff Bezos

Señor Buck, Great thoughts. I may not represent the majority here, but my understanding of the goal of this campaign is: it’s not just about getting a response from Bezos. It’s about raising awareness that Turkers Are People.

I do not know whether Bezos will respond, initially. But, in my mind, that’s not Step 1 to success. We have been talking to journalists who seem interested in covering the letter-writing campaign if it is producing high quality stories. That will call attention, much more than just getting Bezos to read the letter.

I am under the impression that the ideal process would be: - start with a few high quality letters - confirm a journalist using those letters as seeds - start adding more letters once we have buy-in - publicity about the campaign goes live - bezos is increasingly pressured to respond, we post any responses back to the site

It’s a feedback loop that calls attention to the human aspects of Turking.

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outrageous_frog

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Señor Buck ~ That is hilarious! Great comments oh excitable little lizard. ;}

BUT!

Queue the GIF of me banging my cyber-head against my computer monitor.

I mentioned it previously at the outset of this campaign. Are we really certain we want to scream about our plight from the highest cyber mountain tops, until it lures the “media” into the game? Do we really think it is such a good idea to pressure Mr. Bezos into anything? My heartfelt feeling is to beware we cry too loudly for the wrong types of people may be summoned to look into our noble cause. We may not like the results.

I said it before, I’ll say it again. This is a great idea to generate change, BUT we would do well to tread carefully and fly this plane cautiously. A mindful piloting of this campaign could change all crowdsourcing for the better, but we’d best watch out for that mountain in our way called Amazon. If all these “pressure” tactics turn around to bite us all in the behind, don’t say I didn’t say so.

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Two people have come into this thread and been negative. Two people who didn’t sign the guidelines. Shouldn’t we be offering advice on making things better instead of tearing it down? Why are you here if not to be supportive?

nutty_buck: You keep saying we need to mindfully plot the course, but not once have you provided any coordinates. Do share.

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nutty_buck: You keep saying we need to mindfully plot the course, but not once have you provided any coordinates. Do share.

Sorry you seem to think by trying to rope this project back towards a more realistic approach that deems me all negative. I did chart a course, and that course was for SLOW and more steady sailing. Right now this campaign seems to be going full blow - mainsail wide open - with a total disregard for the possible storms it could encounter. Do we not have any sense that if we continue to prod away at some of these issues, the WRONG people may take notice and Turk as we now know it would become like the dinosaurs. EXTINCT.

I have said numerous times I think the idea behind this endeavor is for a noble cause and could greatly benefit crowdsource workers. But, one wrong move and we could end up with more than we bargained for. If that’s negative then maybe I need to get a new Websters.

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light_dragonfly

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Dear nutty_buck,

thanks for your thoughts. I think I understand where you are coming from with this. My intuition is that this campaign is in part a response to all the news stories that do portray a terrible image of MTurk. I don’t want to provide any links to such articles but I think we all know what I’m talking about. I think if anything were to attract legislator’s attention to MTurk it would be those types of articles. Here Turkers have a chance to portray their lives and jobs as what it really is and have a journalist cover their story the way they see it.

I still understand your concerns of this going the wrong way. I have a few suggestions:

  • I’m sure you have already read the goals of this campaign, but could you kindly re-read them, and let the others know what kinds of changes you would like to see?: http://wiki.wearedynamo.org/index.php/Email_campaign_to_Jeff_Bezos
  • Maybe the reason you are feeling this is going too fast is that I forgot to mention fully my conversation with the journalist. He said that we needed a few (4-5) strong letters on the site before he could introduce us to someone to cover the story. That is why Turkers sat down to write those letters, and as you mentioned, it turned out great! I suggest that by Friday 19th we all help these letter writers edit their letters and we also work together to set out the goals as we agree on them. Then we can talk to the journalist. Once he agrees to cover the story, we can have an living campaign that gradually gathers letters from Turkers.
  • nutty_buck, I would like to invite you to write your own letter :) You are obviously an established Turker and have thought things through. If you are concerned about legislation, maybe you can include your concerns in your letter?

Please let me know if you don’t agree with these suggestions.

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nutty_buck

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Actually i saw a really interesting documentary about jeff bezos and how down to earth he is. i don’t think he would hand write a reply to each letter but i think with a thoughtful and well planned writing campaign im sure he will respond to the whole campaign. And we never know what will come out of it. Yes he may be worth 13 billion but ive been in the same room with people worth 500 million and you couldnt tell the difference between him and me. this isnt the one i saw but this one is available on youtube try to watch it. thank you for sharing the article and i hope you will help make this campaign to be as great as possible. TY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og8B45GV-ls

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dark_bird_of_paradise and light_dragonfly

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Letter 6

Dear Mr. Bezos:

I’ve been a worker on Mechanical Turk since July of 2012. I live in upstate New York with my wife, our son, three dogs and two cats. I work full-time on the Help Desk of a regional healthcare system and that job has enough down-time to let me “Turk”, as it’s called, between calls and make between $20-$30 per day, usually.

That money pays for heating oil for my family in the winter and funds vacations in the summer. This past summer the money I made on Mechanical Turk paid for me to spend a weekend in Rhode Island to attend the Rhode Island Air National Guard Airshow, a weekend in Ohio with my Dad and son attending the Vectron Airshow and the Museum Of The United States Air Force, and a full week in Missouri visiting my family. Every cent spent on all three of those trips was funded by the work I make on Mechanical Turk and I’m very grateful for it.

However, I (and my fellow Turkers) think there are some things with Mechanical Turk that need to be looked at and possibly changed. For example:

1) Implement a formal grievance process that workers can bring against requesters and take action against requesters who are scamming workers. Instances of requesters rejecting honest work with nothing more than an “x” for a reason are far too common and if workers have to have a standard, why don’t requesters?

2) Require that a requester respond to emails they receive. Nothing is more frustrating more than sending a requester a contact asking for clarification on a rejection and being met with crickets. This is completely unacceptable.

3) Be more transparent with worker standards. For example, in May I was given the Masters qualification and, to be honest, I don’t know why. I know workers who have a higher approval percentage and have completed more tasks than I do that don’t have it. What aspect of my work prompted Amazon to give me Masters? And what is Amazon specifically looking for when they decide to either allow me to keep it or take it away? It’s very difficult to make sure your work is up to snuff when all you have to go by is your approval rating. Which leads nicely to my next point:

4) This morning I received a warning email that said “We write to alert you of a decrease in the accuracy of your HITs. If your HIT accuracy continues to fall, you may lose your Masters qualification.” I responded to the email asking what aspect of my accuracy has decreased, since in the past 45 days I’ve completed 4210 HITs and have had three rejections (or an approval rating in the past 45 days of 99.9993 percent) and the response I received was obviously a “cut and paste” type letter advising me on how to contact requesters about rejections. It didn’t address my concerns at all and was obviously a “cut and paste” form letter. I’m concerned I may lose my Master’s qualification without being told why and this, to me, is unacceptable.

4) Clarify when a block counts against you and when one doesn’t, and give workers the means to see who has blocked them, why they’ve been blocked and which blocks are counting against them. Why do some blocks trigger a foreboding email warning to be sent, while others you don’t even know about until you attempt to accept a task by a requester that has blocked you? A requester should NEVER be allowed to block a worker without the worker knowing why. For example, earlier this year I received notice I had been blocked by a requester (workers refer to those as “hard blocks”) and when I emailed the requester to ask why he proceeded to hard block me a SECOND time. That kind of action is, to me, unacceptable.

What I’m asking isn’t unreasonable, I think… I enjoy working for Mechanical Turk and enjoy the income it brings me but at the same time the lack of support workers receive make it rather stressful at times and actions such as those I listed would be very helpful in eliminating that stress and enabling me (and other workers) to focus more on the work we do for Mechanical Turk and its requesters.

Thank you,
Clay

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Clay I have a suggestion for you. I think your letter would have a bigger effect in “showing the human side of Turking” if you included more personal information about yourself and why you Turk. For example, talk about your life, if you have a family that you support. How many hours a day you usually work on MTurk. How you started Turking and how it makes you feel.

If you would like to make changes to your letter, let me know and I will update the original post with your edits.

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I did chart a course, and that course was for SLOW and more steady sailing.

But you haven’t defined what that means. What should our next steps be then? We need an exact idea of what you want us to do - stop writing, research Bezos, find out more from journalists… WHAT is slow and steady sailing? We’re not on a boat, analogies don’t help us here.

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Ok here are a few inputs Letter #5 by william seems to be more of a Rant than an actual letter following the guidelines set up in the wiki page. I suggest delete all the quotes from requesters and focus on how has Mturk qualifications helped your mturk career. Letter #6 is great very concise and organized i would think less wording if possible. Short and Sweet takes the meat! Also 4 is repeated in your numbering. Letter #4 great idea!!!! undercover boss that was dope! add a little more about yourself and how mturk has helped you. letter #3 and #1 are good, letter #2 it seems like a long winded rant lets tone it down and remember the goal is to remind Bezos that we are humans first and workers second. I would say shift your energy from complaining about being from canada and all that to how mturk should be opened up to the world workers kinda like an immigration type issue. NO BORDERS ON THE INTERNET :)

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I ran a quick spell check/grammar check over the letters and cleaned up typos, nothing major. Figured now that that’s out of the way (for the most part, I’m no editor!) we can focus on content, or move ahead, or whatever we want to do.

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light_dragonfly and outrageous_frog

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Thank you everyone for your feedback, William and Kristy have re-written their letters. I just updated them.

I put the letters on this public page so you can see what this is going to look like. I suggest we give it another few days for everyone to read the letters and give suggestion on how to make them more awesome (or write your own if you want!). On Friday 26th I will contact the journalist and ask him to take a look and let us know what he thinks. If you object to this please say so.

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Ok the letters look great and i like the look of the public page as well. I would vote that they are ready on the 26th to be shown to a reporter. any insight from the reporter will help us improve our chances at this endeavor being a huge success GREAT JOB EVERYBODY!

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light_dragonfly

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Since we’ve had no success with a journalist, can we open this up to all Turkers now? How should we go about that - create an area where they can post their letters so we can repost them for posterity?

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I just received the following email:

I’m Jonathan Norberg of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your email and asked me to respond on his behalf.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about improving the Mechanical Turk experience for workers. We’re always looking for ways to get better, and we appreciate customer thoughts on how we can do so. I’ve shared your email with our Mechanical Turk team, and they’ve assured me they’ll take your feedback into consideration as they work to enhance the Mechanical Turk program.

Thanks again for writing to us.

Regards,

Jonathan Norberg Executive Customer Relations

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I just received the following email:

I’m Jonathan Norberg of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your email and asked me to respond on his behalf.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about improving the Mechanical Turk experience for workers. We’re always looking for ways to get better, and we appreciate customer thoughts on how we can do so. I’ve shared your email with our Mechanical Turk team, and they’ve assured me they’ll take your feedback into consideration as they work to enhance the Mechanical Turk program.

Thanks again for writing to us.

Regards,

Jonathan Norberg Executive Customer Relations

Unfortunately, I have seen that same copypasta form letter before. I wonder if it is on autoreply…

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Hello Turkers and @Dynamo,

I am just wondering if only one of Jeff Bezos’s email addresses were chosen to avoid slamming him with duplicates, and how this particular email address out of the three valid email addresses that he answers from was chosen. Since people are receiving responses, it’s obviously a good one! I’m just curious since I just found out there are two others, and wondering if either of the other two will reach him directly? I’m guessing they are all filtered through somebody, but thought I’d ask since everyone is receiving a auto-copied letter.

Thanks much!

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