Newsletter 8

Tech Workers Coalition unites with Turkopticon in launching our first ever fundraiser to establish Turkopticon’s own server and build solidarity among Turkers. We have been reaching out to Tech workers to explain that Mturk work is actually powering most technologies of the world. In doing so, we are bringing attention to the same issues that seem to have haunted us for ten years: MASS REJECTIONS AND ACCOUNT SUSPENSIONS! We are working to build a relationship where all Turkers can come to the table and be included. If you want to help in any way please contact us at volunteercoms@turkopticon.net.

You can read more at: https://news.techworkerscoalition.org/2021/03/09/issue-5/.

Our Fundraising campaign is here : https://blog.turkopticon.info/?page_id=758

A new requester mass rejected

A situation arose a few weeks ago where a new requester mass rejected a group of surveys. (Their current approval rate at the time of writing this is 21%) From the information we gathered, the hit was set up in a very confusing manner – specifically use of double negatives and inconsistent column labels.The requester received so many complaints they stopped responding to each one, forcing people to contact the school’s IRB. Some of the workers did get a response though stating “Please stop contacting me. I have reported your threats and conduct to Amazon for further investigation.”Unfortunately, this was true. The requester sent us multiple emails as well, informing us that he had contacted Amazon to report “offensive and abusive language or overt threats” from workers. We do not know what type of language was used or actual threats he received from workers, but based off the complaints workers made to us, we think many of those reported may have been as simple as letting the requester know their IRB was being contacted.The reason I write is just a reminder to be professional in communication with requesters. When leaving reviews, please be respectful, even if they may not deserve it. Don’t call them derogatory names, don’t contact people outside of their work (for example, don’t find their spouse’s email and start contacting them). Don’t send emails with threatening language, derogatory comments, etc. Don’t give them anything to use against you if you unfortunately run across a requester like this. Please continue to report these requesters on Turkopticon, Turkerview, FB, any avenue to warn others about them.As a turker myself, I am appalled that a requester took this step and consider what they did completely out of line. Requester intimidation is never okay and if you run across this, please reach out to us. No accounts were suspended due to this requester.

TWC and TW4TW

Tech Workers Coalition, or TWC, is a non-hierarchical, international collective of programmers, bug testers, and service workers in the technology fields.  In other words, a bunch of nerds worldwide who want to make the world a more equal, better place.  There are chapters from San Diego to Berlin to Bangalore, all taking up their own interests and sharing notes on how to push back against tech that infringes on our civil rights and liberties.  The work can range from more traditional workplace organizing to work on local politics to restrict and push back against surveillance.  The key is that technology should improve life for everyone, and it incorporates anyone who works in tech but isn’t a manager or boss– janitors, rideshare drivers, and programmers collaborate in TWC and drive its work. It is vitally important that all tech workers engage and collaborate with one-another.  It is our work and labor that keeps the company moving.  Whether you code the product, test for bugs, identify the images for a Machine Learning set, clean the office, or make the food to keep the nerds continuously typing, all our labor moves the machine.  The CEOs and Venture Capitalists receive the press coverage for flashy breakthroughs, but let’s be real: Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos aren’t geniuses designing every widget in their companies.  It’s the workers that create the fortunes. Despite these soaring profits, the average worker has more precarity and less recourse in their workplace.  Companies have been skirting labor law by designating delivery drivers as “independent contractors” for years, and after the success of Prop 22 in California literally overturned state law, they’re seeking to expand this model globally.  Warehouse careers that could support a decent standard of living are being swallowed by Amazon logistics.  And more programming and web-design is being transferred to an overworked, ad-hoc labor system with an eye for automation: MIT is studying computer-directed coding right now for a reason: being a programmer in 2020 is similar to being a machinist in 1973.  It’s a good job in danger of automation and dispossession. The purpose of Tech Workers for Tech Workers, #TW4TW, is to harness our collective power and create a better world, together.  The Turkopticon project is a perfect example of this model– MTurk workers understand their workplace, their challenges, and what constitutes a win for their cause.  Web developers, academics, and fundraisers can lend a hand and actively collaborate with them (not in a patronizing fashion for them), and together build a platform that can grow over time and adapt to shifting issues in the MTurk system.  Giving what you can, whether it’s cash or code or on-the-ground knowledge of your workplace, and we can build infrastructure that makes us less isolated, more powerful, and wins improvements in our workplaces. Building a new future together will require fighting economic inequality and climate disaster.  It will require massive restructuring of the way we live and work to compensate for the rising tides, droughts, and new diseases which will continue to emerge from the current system.  It requires us to acknowledge that we each have unique talent and dignity to bring to this work.  And to fight, together, and win.

Written by Jacob (Tech Worker) 

Turkopticon is looking for suggestions!

Do you have suggestions for how to make Turkopticon better and wish to share them? Please email volunteercoms@turkopticon.net and someone will contact you to further discuss your suggestions. We want to hear from everyone so don’t be afraid to contact us. We can work together to make Mturk better for everyone.

Join Us on Facebook! 

The Turkopticon community is growing!  Our Facebook page went live on Thursday, June 4th and we would love for you to join us. Participate in the conversations, learn about upcoming projects, and stay up to date on the latest news by giving us a “like.” You can find the page by searching for Turkopticon or visiting www.facebook.com/Turkopticon/


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Turkopticon helps the people in the 'crowd' of crowdsourcing watch out for each other—because nobody else seems to be! Almost half of the Mechanical Turk workers who wrote their Bill of Rights demanded protection from employers who take their work without paying. Turkopticon lets you REPORT and AVOID shady employers.