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Mechanical Turk Officially Closed to Non-US Developers  (View post)

MJ Rich [PersonRank 6]

Thursday, September 13, 2007
15 years ago5,369 views

While I understand and agree completely with what you're saying, I think you sound a little bitter about it.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Nope. I was a bit frustrated two years ago when I wasn't able to sign up from Germany, because I wanted to play around with their API (but I still thought and think it was very cool someone releases a service like this at all, so overall I was happy)! Today, it's just a news bit which makes the MTurk policy a bit more official. But yes, it would be cool if there will come along more services who handle this with a focus on the whole globe. Maybe Google, Microsoft or Yahoo. Yahoo seems to be able to "get along" with communities really well for instance.

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

I hear you Philipp. I've always been really impressed with the services coming out of Amazon, but continuously disappointed with their determined local focus. Even their 'lookup' APIs are sandboxed between US, UK, Japan, etc. so you need to get a different key and use a (slightly) different API depending on the region you're connecting to. Strange.

The official switch to not supporting o/s users is disappointing not because we can no longer use it (we couldn't anyway), but because it indicates that they're not planning on expanding the service outside the US any time soon.

Johan Terpstra [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

I got it this morning too, after e-mailing them every 3 months about when it's going to open up.

My first reaction was like yours, "Shit, they're giving up!". But thinking about it later, I thought it may actually be a sign they are opening it up. Perhaps we'll have to re-signup at our local (UK/DE) amazon soon or they had to change the platform so much it was easier to boot us first.

If the latter is the case, which I hope, they still could have done a much better job at communicating it.

I've been itching to use the service but it's a shame we can't. And frankly, I can't see why not either.

Chris DiBona [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Hi Philipp;

I gotta sympathize with Amazon here. One of the hardest things that my group has to do is pay people internationally. We have one program (the summer of code) that has to pay out in something like 73 different currencies. It's -hugely- difficult. If we wanted to include people under 18, we simply couldn't do it. Amazon probably could have limited the participants to a few of the pac-rim countries, much of Europe and North America without too much trouble, but at some point you really want to throw your hands up at how hard it is to pay people.

And our program has only 2 or 3 thousand payments to make while the MT probably has way more to deal with.


Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

[put at-character here]Chris: True. But this is *Amazon*. They already pay people all over the world through their 'Amazon Associate' program and third party sellers, and they happily accept orders from almost anyone anywhere.

But in any case, the key point here is that they're not limiting who gets paid (Worker Accounts), they're limiting who can can pay them (Requester Accounts). It's not paying people internationally that's the problem, it's *taking* money internationally. I think the problem here is the variable nature of the costs. It's not a one-off credit card payment that you can authorize, it's an ongoing commitment based on the responses you get from the workers.

Not saying it's not difficult! Just disappointing. It would be nice to see Amazon work with someone like Google Checkout to streamline these issues though...

Alex Ksikes [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Perhaps it's time for you to just go ahead and make CHI a reality. You seem to be understanding what the whole concept is all about better than Amazon does. Again it would be interesting to see how one would program collaborative websites such as wikipedia using CHI. It would also be interesting to test some kind of CHI accumulator where the HCP (Human Computing Power) used can be reused at will by any other CHI like program. To me the most important concept is the one of HCP (Human Computing Power), once we understand that humans do computation, it seems to be an interesting experiment to try building a programming language for these "computers". CHI is one possible implementation. MTurk is another very loose one (very far from the human computing platform).

Piers Karsenbarg [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

I completely agree with Reto. I really want to be able to use S3 for a couple of projects, but I can't as they don't accept non-US payments. Having said that, it's not just Amazon who are doing this; 37Signals are another company in similar circumstances where there must be people who want to use the product and are happy to pay for it but can't. And as you said, it's not as if Amazon don't have the facilities to accept international payments. Heck, I bought a book from Amazon the other day (admittedly the UK version, but still Amazon, right?)! When will these companies realise that there are people outside the UK who want to use their services.

Stephen A [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

What's strange is when I tried Turk just to see what it was about one of the tasks was to mark out things on a UK road (probably for some software that teaches people how to drive and practice for hazard-perception test)

You would think they'd prefer people from the UK to do that who would be familiar with the markings and signs and things US drivers never come across like roundabouts.

Lars Nilsen [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

I see no reason for Amazon not to accept non-US requesters. I already use S3 and EC2 (two other Amazon Web Services) where they simply charge my credit card every month according to how much I have used their services. On this thread you can see that one Mark from Amazon in February 2007 said:
"Alternate forms of payment for requesters, including credit cards is one of our top priorities for future releases of Mechanical Turk."

Payment over credit card is, however, a totally new and untested technology, and I understand that a company like Amazon do not have any experience with handing this type of payments. My best guess is that it will be up and running sometime in 2009.

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