6 Weird Amazon Crowdsourcing Tasks from the Mechanical Turk Platform

Article by Alex Nguyen | January 21, 2019

The power of the crowd lies in the fact that it is oftentimes so large and diverse. Lurk on crowdsourcing websites for long enough, and you’ll find tons of weird concepts and odd projects with outright questionable objectives. Especially on open platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk, requesters can find workers to complete just about any task you can imagine. No matter the source, the possibilities for crowdsourcing services are endless. Here are some of our favorite Amazon crowdsourcing requests taken from the Mechanical Turk worker dashboard and reddit’s Turkkit that just might provide inspiration for your next machine learning project.


Who’s a good boy?

If you could ask your pet one question, and get a reply you could understand, what would you ask? A requester on Mechanical Turk looking for content generation services surveyed workers to collect unique questions for their furry companions. The purpose of the task wasn’t specified, but we’re almost as interested in what they intend to do with the data as we are the answers to the questions…


Amazon Crowdsourcing Odd Tasks: Upload images of your foot

Amazon crowdsourcing tasks like this on the Mechanical Turk platform will raise a few eyebrows.

For what we presume is an image recognition engine, this requester used Mechanical Turk to collect photos of feet. But wait, the task wasn’t that simple. The HIT came with detailed instructions and a survey for all participants, as detailed below:


  • Socks on or off  
  • Must be standing on FIRM ground (ex. hardwood, tile)
  • Use only one piece of NEW 8.5×11 paper (even if your foot is longer than paper, use one piece then measure the length of your foot)
  • Foot must be centered on piece of paper
  • Measure your foot to the nearest tenth (ex. 21.0, 27.2, 29.5)
  • All four corners of the paper MUST BE VISIBLE



Are these people the same?

Facial recognition software is another unique application for machine learning. Many companies are using MTurk and similar platforms to create useful training data for facial recognition algorithms. Here’s a prime example:

amazon crowdsourcing tasks example image of face detection
Source: u/sharkutterzero on Redditsweet

Messy situation

Some tasks require more effort than others, like this one u/fallingleaves805 recalls:

Had a survey once that asked me to record a video of myself pouring ketchup all over my body and laying down on my bathroom floor. Wish I could remember who the requester was.


Top content

Another popular project type on crowdsourcing platforms are image recognition tasks. In the following example, workers were asked to describe the article of clothing worn by the model.

amazon crowdsourcing task example platform for product detection
Source: u/JustAThrowaway4563


At Lionbridge AI, we understand that human created data is essential for developing quality machine learning applications. This particular requester took quality assurance to the next level by asking workers to complete one final step to ensure authentic results:

Source: u/Lolhithere




We hope these strange Amazon crowdsourcing requests have inspired you to get creative with your machine learning projects. At Lionbridge AI, we’ve seen our fair share of interesting requests similar to Mechanical Turk, such as gathering multi-ethnic eye tracking data and creating Arabic sentiment analysis data to develop a machine capable of understanding political discourse. Interested in collecting your own strange data for machine learning? Contact our sales team to see how Lionbridge AI can work for you.

The Author
Alex Nguyen

Alex manages content production for Lionbridge’s marketing team. Originally from San Francisco but based in Tokyo, she loves all things culture and design. When not at Lionbridge, she’s likely brushing up on her Japanese, letting loose at indie electronic shows or trying out new ice cream spots in the city.


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