Others take a more casual attitude, saying that Mturk is an online pastime like blogging, chatting, or surfing - only this one pays you to do it.
Perhaps it boils down to personality types. Or maybe it's a matter of finding the right audience. In the early days of Mturk, the inevitable trend seemed to be that India would dominate the worker population, with their killer combo of English skills, internet access, and low wage demands.
This hasn't happened (yet) mostly because Amazon's payment system is very low-tech and US-centric. If PayPal becomes an option, then it'll be a very different ball game.
But for now, given the current set-up, is there an ideal workforce for Mechanical Turk? College students seem like a no-brainer: they are smart, low on cash, and have high-speed connections on many campuses. But let's look more closely at the factors, because they do a lot to highlight the benefits of working at Mturk.
- Many on-campus college students don't have cars, so job opportunities are limited. Mturk's telecommute not only makes work more reachable, but also saves the cost of driving for students that do have cars (a huge factor these days.)
- Mturk is a casual take-it or leave-it workplace. I can log-in for 15 minutes or an entire Saturday afternoon - how many jobs offer that? College students have their studies and their social lives to think about, so flexibility is a huge draw.
- Also, think about the upfront cost: all the steps a person must take to find even the simplest part-time position. Plus the commute, plus the workplace friction, etc. For a college student looking for a couple hundred bucks a month, Mechanical Turk is compelling because there's no barrier to entry.
In short, the appeal of Mechanical Turk is not that it's big money, or even fair money, but that it is literally easy money.
I'm sure a lot of other audiences share some of those factors, and would find Turk equally appealing.