Forums » Campaigns » Dear Jeff Bezos

http://rhizome.org/editorial/2014/dec/5/rhizome-today/

“How much work, paid and unpaid, is atomized, anonymized, and embedded in our online platforms? I’m heartened that, in the face of ever-mounting precarity, Turkers and other workers are organizing themselves, naming themselves, demanding representation and better labor conditions. When “work in public” can be said to mean selling yourself to anyone who will listen, the Dynamo campaign turns the platitude on its head. It allows us to reimagine “work in public” as a plea and a promise to bear witness to each other.”

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I received a response from AMT support after my email was forwarded to them from Jeff Bezos’s office:

Hi Rachael,

My name is Lisa and I work with the Mechanical Turk escalations team. Your recent e-mail to Jeff Bezos was forwarded to me for review, and I wanted to take some time to address the concerns you raised regarding your experience with our team, and also to thank you for the feedback you provided regarding the platform.

Let me preface this by apologizing on behalf of my team for the inconvenience and frustration you went through. I’m truly sorry for the difficulty you had getting the correct answers, and that it took so long for the correct info to be provided.

Regarding the issue you reported with your approval percentage decreasing, and rejections appearing on your account, we have reviewed your account and we do not see a record of either your approval rating decreasing, or 200 rejections being added, in May of this year. We are, however, continuing to investigate and will be following up with you directly should these investigations reveal an issue. In the meantime, if you by chance have any screenshots or timestamps showing the rejections or the approval change, that would be beneficial in helping us. Screenshots and other attachments can be sent to our team via the following e-mail address: aws@amazon.com

As mentioned above, we would also like to thank you for the feedback you provided us regarding how the platform can be improved. While these suggestions have been forwarded to our product and development team for consideration, please feel free to continue sending us your thoughts and suggestions via either contacting our support team, or by posting to the Masters forum as you have done in the past. We are constantly striving to improve Mechanical Turk, and your feedback is a very important part of this process.

If you have any questions, please let us know. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and participation in Mechanical Turk.

Best regards,

Lisa A. Amazon Mechanical Turk

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light_dragonfly and dark_bird_of_paradise

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Hey all,

We’re looking to promote the campaign and have been batting around ideas. The main, and most appropriate, idea is to post a HIT. We can’t pay people to sign up on Dynamo, nor can we pay them to write a letter to Mr. Bezos. Instead, we’d like to pay them to take a four minute paid vacation. Here’s the idea for the HIT:

The HIT would say: “We’re offering you $0.50 to take four minutes of paid vacation. Please accept this HIT and enjoy four minutes of not having to work on HITs, worry about finding HITs, having to search out a Requester on TO, having to scour forums to find the next HIT to work on, and having to check the dashboard to see if you’ve received any rejections. It would be awesome if you could take a portion of your four minute break to visit and learn more about the Dear Jeff Bezos Campaign (linked to Dynamo). Turkers are self-organizing to let Mr. Bezos, Amazon, journalists, researchers and Requesters know that we’re human beings and would like to be treated as such. If you want to learn more, please read the more detailed explanation on the We Are Dynamo campaign page (again linked). If you feel like joining in and writing your own letter, please do! We hope you enjoy your four minutes of paid vacation. May the time off make you more effective in the rest of your work today!”

The HIT would be funded by donations from anyone interested - Turkers, academics, Requesters, journalists, whoever wants to get involved. The HITs would stay up and continue to be funded by donations until we get some action from Amazon. We have a Requester willing to post the HITs and accept the Paypal donations as well.

Thoughts?

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light_dragonfly and faithful_fly

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This sounds great to me. Thanks dark_bird_of_paradise!

Maybe mention that they don’t need to register on Dynamo to participate in the letter writing campaign.

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dark_bird_of_paradise and faithful_fly

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Yes light_dragonfly, registering to Dynamo would be a TOS violation so that would have to be suggested but not required.

We would want the writing responses within the hit corrrect? Probably set a 24hour timer so the workers could think about what they would want to write and not feel pressured.

As stated in pm, I will donate to this project and let me know if this is the appropriate place for me to post paypal information. It would be very helpful if forum posters could inform the various forums of this project.

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We would want the writing responses within the hit corrrect? Probably set a 24hour timer so the workers could think about what they would want to write and not feel pressured.

I totally agree on long timer, just in case they do want to write. My thought is that we also can’t have them write within the HIT or we’ll be seen as “paying them” to write. They’d just write the email on their own and CC Dynamo. Or they don’t write at all, so be it.

Also, a qualification (“Bezos Campaign does not exist” on the HIT, manually handed out as people complete the HITs) to ensure they only do one HIT, so that each iteration of the batch that goes up doesn’t get taken by the same people.

As stated in pm, I will donate to this project and let me know if this is the appropriate place for me to post paypal information. It would be very helpful if forum posters could inform the various forums of this project.

The thinking is that we should get a few responses and then announce the paypal info here and on all forums.

Let’s set a deadline of 2 days for this discussion. We’ll post the Paypal info and a blurb on what we’re doing on WAD, the forums, etc. on December 11th. If anyone has a comment or concern, please raise it before then :)

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faithful_fly and light_dragonfly

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We have already recieved $40 in donations to this HIT already. That would be 72 responses at .50. I am writing the HIT right now just to be ready when we release and to submit a screenshot for approval. I did make one minor change from four minutes to three minutes. Just to keep within the mturkdata guidelines of .15 per minute :D

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Thanks vast_anaconda, this is great! I kind of agree with dark_bird_of_paradise that we shouldn’t be paying people to write letters. My suggestion is to pay for a 4 or 5 minute paid vacation (as DBP proposed) and suggest that people use a few minutes of that time to look up Dynamo and the letter writing campaign.

Then they can choose to voluntarily write letters if they want to later. What do you think about this VA?

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https://www.dropbox.com/s/valhjhybh6xymw0/capture-20141209-182214.png?dl=0

Take a look at the screenshot. “If you do not want to join Dynamo, you can post your letter here or you can submit blank, we are paying you for a 3 minute vacation, not to write a letter:”

I am giving them the option within the hit to write there so that we comply with Amazons TOS, I do not want them to feel forced into signing up in order to be paid or forcing them to sign up in order to write a letter. I put in a small disclaimer about who is paying for the hit, that it is not an academic survey, and we are not charging a fee for it for full disclosure.

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Thanks VA! Here are a few comments, you are welcome to disagree:

  • The text is a bit on the long side, I’m afraid people might skip it. We could shorten the parts about what they can do in this 3 minutes to one or two and jump straight to Dynamo.

  • Can you start a new paragraph at “It would be awesome…”. Makes it more readable.

  • In the last sentence (We are not charging…) I didn’t notice who “we” was at first. Maybe change that to MTurkData?

  • How do you feel about removing the text box all together and leaving it to people to email their letters if they want to? Having it there might make people suspect our motivations or make them reluctant to share personal information.

Other than these, this is great, thanks so much for doing this VA! :)

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We are going to do some restrictions to the qualifications for different batches to try and get a good sample of workers. So the qualifications shown are not fixed.

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frightened_owl

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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…

Perhaps it was a automaton reply. Not very inspiring.

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I don’t think it’s automated,

You are confusing a verb or adjective (automate or automated) with a noun (automaton). I was not alluding to the method used to reply, but to the individual at Amazon that executed the reply; ie a copy and paste.

au·tom·a·ton noun a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being. synonyms: robot, android, cyborg, droid, bot “assembly-line automatons” a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions, especially one capable of a range of programmed responses to different circumstances. used in similes and comparisons to refer to a person who seems to act in a mechanical or unemotional way.

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My comment was in reference to “I wonder if it’s on autoreply”.

Just like with emails it is always best to include at least some of the text to which you are responding so that others can keep up with your ‘conversation’. I will note that your response appears right below this in the list above:

Perhaps it was a automaton reply. Not very inspiring.

Again, you might want to include the specific text to which you are responding.

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And two major changes which were asked for in the letters
- Indians will now be able to get bank transfers!
- Amazon has promised two-way communication between workers and the company coming in the next few months

WE DID IT! We stood up, engendered change, and we did it all for ourselves. Congrats!!

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light_dragonfly

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