Forums » Ideas » Start an email campaign to Jeff Bezos letting him know who we are off/on mTurk, and what we are looking for on mTurk.

This is a writing campaign for Turkers to let Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon and brainchild behind mTurk, and the rest of the world know all about who we are. The intent is to get Bezos to see that Turkers are not only actual human beings, but people who deserve respect, fair treatment and open communication. All emails should be professional, thoughtful, and positive. This is intended to be informative, NOT inflammatory.

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light_dragonfly, elated_mongoose, and outrageous_frog

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I really like the idea of creating a Tumblr or something like that where everyone can post their letters. Doing it in a public place might garner some attention. We can do a letter writing campaign with a deadline and then one of us at the end can print + mail them all in bulk?

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elated_mongoose

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Printing all those emails, putting them into envelopes(?) and mailing them gets expensive. Jeff Bezos is insistent that every email sent to him receive a personal response, so I think that’s the cheapest way to make an impact.

“Jeff Bezos may run Amazon and he may be a billionaire, but he is very accessible to his customers with an easy-to-find email address, jeff@amazon.com. And when his customers aren’t pleased, Bezos isn’t either.” http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-customer-service-and-jeff-bezos-emails-2013-10

“Frustrated by the lack of progress, it was whilst reading an article about Amazon that our reader saw that Jeff Bezos refused to hide his email address and it was in the public domain: jeff@amazon.com

She writes: “I sent the email Thursday, received a phone call Friday and follow up email from his office (I realise it may have been his team opening the emails) – problem resolved Friday evening – now THAT is good service from Amazon.com management team – we knew it was a case of someone kicking a setting to sort it – but Amazon.co.uk were not able to resolve in 3 weeks.”” http://tamebay.com/2014/01/got-an-amazon-problem-write-to-jeff-bezos.html

“Jeff Bezos has a public e-mail address, jeff@amazon.com. Not only does he read many customer complaints, he forwards them to the relevant Amazon employees, with a one-character addition: a question mark.” http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-10/jeff-bezos-and-the-age-of-amazon-excerpt-from-the-everything-store-by-brad-stone

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light_dragonfly and tired_cricket

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Thanks dark_bird_of_paradise, as this idea is getting more upvotes. I wonder if we should start laying out and discussing what the final goal of this campaign is going to be? When would we say the campaign has succeeded? Are we looking for a response from Jeff Bezos? A change in anything on MTurk? Media publicity? Or some other goals?

One suggestion I have is: start a page on the wiki where Turkers can author what the overall goals of this campaign are. I know dark_bird_of_paradise probably has some ideas on this since he/she posted the idea, it would be nice to give others who are interested a voice in it too if they want to participate. The wiki page could be a bullet point of what we want to communicate collectively to Jeff Bezos, or a set of goals we are trying to achieve through this campaign, or anything else (laying out possibilities here). We could then publish what is authored using the wiki at the top of the tumblr/website that people use to publicize their messages.

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dark_bird_of_paradise took 15 minutes of their time to prepare this

I wonder if we should start laying out and discussing what the final goal of this campaign is going to be? When would we say the campaign has succeeded? Are we looking for a response from Jeff Bezos? A change in anything on MTurk? Media publicity? Or some other goals?

One suggestion I have is: start a page on the wiki where Turkers can author what the overall goals of this campaign are. I know dark_bird_of_paradise probably has some ideas on this since he/she posted the idea, it would be nice to give others who are interested a voice in it too if they want to participate. The wiki page could be a bullet point of what we want to communicate collectively to Jeff Bezos, or a set of goals we are trying to achieve through this campaign, or anything else (laying out possibilities here). We could then publish what is authored using the wiki at the top of the tumblr/website that people use to publicize their messages.

Goals:

  • opening communication BOTH ways, meaning we end up with a two-way conversation going back and forth somehow
  • a response from Mr. Bezos would be awesome too :)
  • more resources for Turkers? what would those be?
  • presenting to media the truth about Turkers (we’re not all in third world countries, we’re not all unskilled, we’re not all making $1.45/hour, we’re not all Turking for beer money, etc.)

What we want to say:

  • Turkers are human beings, not algorithms, and should be marketed accordingly
  • Turkers should not be sold as cheap labour, but instead skilled, flexible labour which needs to be respected
  • Turkers need to have a method of representing themselves to Requesters and the world via Amazon (not sure what that could be)

That’s a start for the Wiki page, we can delete, add and amend as necessary. :)

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light_dragonfly

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dark_bird_of_paradise took 6 minutes of their time to prepare this
  • Turkers need to have a method of representing themselves to Requesters and the world via Amazon (not sure what that could be)

Regarding this, I’m wondering how you feel about my post here

I think what you’re doing is awesome, but what I meant was something that is for the Requesters first, world second. By “and the world” I just meant that it should be publicly accessible. It needs to educate Requesters in a way which enables them to pay fairly, design their HITs efficiently, use the right qualifications, etc. It would be more “work” geared, who we are as Turkers, than “personally” geared, who we are outside mTurk. So, stuff like, “We’ve worked with XYZ company, and by paying $15 per hour they have never had to run their HIT batches twice to ensure quality.” or “ABC company used a private qualification instead of Masters, and they were able to completely automate their app as a result.” Basically best practices from the point of view of a Turker. In the end, this is probably something we could just set up on our own.

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I was just thinking that this could be open to requesters to join as well. I’m not sure how interested they would be in it, but I bet if they also pushed Bezos and/or Amazon to care more about workers, Amazon would see it as pressure from both sides to take it more seriously.

Does anyone else think this is a good idea? I can see the concern that requesters might not have the same message as us, but if they all asked Bezos to treat Turkers more like human beings and to set a better tone for the requesters to treat us better, I think that would be awesome. With the academic requesters on board (here) I think academic requesters are at least generally sympathetic to workers’ needs.

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dark_bird_of_paradise

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I think Requesters could email representing themselves, saying whatever it is they wish to say about mTurk. It would be great if we could all band together as a team to represent both sides to Bezos.

I also want to say that I never intended for this to be “activism” as much as a laying of groundwork. This isn’t intended to be an inundation of Mr. Bezos with “treat us better!” emails, from us OR Requesters. It’s just to say Hey, I’m human! Here’s the story of my family, my work life, my home life, etc. This is who I am, and I happen to be a Turker, too. And if the writers want to talk about their Turk life - this pays my mortgage, I paid off my medical bills, I fed my kids while my husband was out of work for two years - they can do that, too. I think the first step we have to engage in is to humanize the workforce, both to Requesters and to Amazon. Once we are seen as human beings, I think a certain level of empathy will appear in most people. That lays the ground work for MLK style activism, where a large, strong choir of voices can be heard and will insist on being respected.

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light_dragonfly and tired_cricket

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A bit tangential, but an article on how reading on paper creates more engagement and empathy than reading on screens: Regular reading also increases empathy, especially when reading a print book. One study discovered that individuals who read an upsetting short story on an iPad were less empathetic and experienced less transportation and immersion than those who read on paper. http://mic.com/articles/99408/science-has-great-news-for-people-who-read-actual-books

Makes me try to imagine sending or posting the letters to jeff in paper somewhere somehow….

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Glad to report at least one of the letters got a response so far. Maybe there’s a way to try to reach out to authors and collect responses for a blog post?

Here’s the response I came across via MTG. The original letter was written by Manish:

Hello Manish,

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

I’m sorry your checks didn’t arrive in a timely manner; this is certainly not the experience we want for our Workers. As a Worker in India, funds received in your Mechanical Turk account can be disbursed to your Amazon.com Gift Card balance, or you may continue to receive payments by checks issued in Rupees.

I appreciate the time you’ve taken to send us your thoughtful suggestions, and I’m passing along your feedback to the Mechanical Turk business team.

Manish, thanks for making sure we’re aware of your experience. We value your business and hope we’re able to continue to work with you for a long time.

Regards,

[redacted] Executive Customer Relations Amazon.com

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light_dragonfly

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I think it’s time for us to open this campaign up so anyone can send an email, but how do we do it in such a way that people don’t send emails which are less than professional or are very negative? Or do we not limit it at all?

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