6 Weird Crowdsourcing Tasks from Amazon Mechanical Turk

6 Weird Crowdsourcing Tasks from Amazon Mechanical Turk
Article By Alex Nguyen | August 09, 2018

The power of the crowd lies in the fact that it is so big and diverse. If you look long enough, you’ll find thousands of weird crowdsourcing concepts and odd projects with outright questionable objectives on any crowdsourcing website. Especially on open platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk  where requesters can find workers to complete just about any task you can imagine.

No matter the source, the possibilities of the crowd are endless. Here are some of our favorite crowdsourcing requests taken from the Mechanical Turk worker dashboard and 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 asked workers to develop their own 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 collected data as we are the answers to the questions…


Upload image of your foot

For an image recognition project, this requester used MTurk to collect photos of feet. But wait, the task isn’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 huge 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:

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.

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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.

Source: u/JustAThrowaway4563


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

Source: u/Lolhithere




We hope these crowdsourcing requests have inspired you to get creative with your machine learning projects. At Gengo, 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 Gengo can work for you.

The Author
Alex Nguyen

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