Beta Rot at Mechanical Turk?

After the initial buzz and a few decent follow-up articles, Mechanical Turk has fallen into relative obscurity. While Techcrunchers revel at start-ups whose claim-to-fame is a groovy nav menu, the Turk - revolutionary as it is - gets no air time. Even turk bloggers are hard pressed to come-up with rant-worthy material. (Although there's no shortage of criticism from outside observers.)

Is Amazon's cautious/patient approach causing Turkers and Requesters alike to lose interest in the project?

To some extent, this is just part of the growth process for any new technology. New tech trends can languish in obscurity for months or even years before the curve starts to elbow upwards. And then SPIKE - suddenly everyone is talking about Wikipedia, or Skype, or whatever.

So we might be on the flat end of the curve for now, heading towards a very bright, busy, profitable future. But to a great extent, this depends on how well Amazon develops the technology and more importantly how well it nutures the community.

Year to date, we've seen some good tech work coming from Amazon: API tweaks, the Requester console, attempts (ha) to improve the payment system. But a lot of frustrations remain, and the project's beta status doesn't fly in a world where other betas are very well developed.

But that's just tech. What about the community angle? Ehh... on the Requester side, I'm certainly feeling the love. But on the worker side?

In my search marketing circles, we enjoy regular feedback from Matt Cutts of Google, who weighs-in on search-related issues in his blog and other industry forums. I don't see the equivalent from Amazon, but I think it would benefit them enormously in terms of goodwill and visibility.

Amazon needs to keep the believers believing, and the key to doing that is to drive Mechanical Turk past beta, past obscurity, and into broad daylight.

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