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Microtasking and Microjobs

Microtasking and microjobs: Large quantities of small tasks

A large number of tasks that are performed within a matter of seconds or minutes are called microtasks or microjobs. Specialized providers in the microtasking/microjob sector now provide companies with an easy and cost-effective means of outsourcing this type of task. Crowdsourcing is often used to process these tasks so that a large number of persons can perform the tasks at the same time.

Microtasking ©   Flikr by paulamarttila

What is Microtasking?

Microtasking is the process of breaking down a large job into smaller tasks that can be shared. This is usually done online to a large workforce. Humans have to do these tasks and in some cases they are even called HITs (Human Intellegence Tasks). Therefore, they cannot be automated or done by computers. Firstly, the kind of tasks offered has to be taken into account. Tasks that are large in volume, require a human perspective, and can be broken down into smaller, independent tasks are the most suitable kinds of task.

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What is a Microjob?

Generally speaking, a microjob is a small, temporary task often booked ad-hoc via the internet. The job itself may be online with such tasks as writing content, categorising comments, or translation. However, being a handyperson, babysitter, or dog walker are examples of offline tasks. In the context of this glossary entry we’ll focus more on the online variety. These days, there are many platforms that offer microjobs along with clickworker.com. Many of these jobs exist to advance AI which can benefit many different companies and cover many applications. Microjobs differ in the way of regular tasks in that they are usually repeitive, take a less than 5-10 seconds and have a set amount to complete the over task itself. Microjobs don’t rely any specific qualifications but they can be split to those who have a specific skill, native language or attribute that the client is looking for.

How Microtasks Are Completed

Offered online via platforms such as clickworker.com, microtasks are done online once a worker has fully set up an account. The platform will work out what tasks to offer to which workers. This can be dependent on language, demographics, skills, hobbies, previous work completed, and so on. Microtasks are often completed at home on a laptop or PC. However, many companies have apps these days too. The clickworker app for example is excellent for projects that require workers to take photos and videos of themselves or items around the home. Some microtasks also require the worker to be outside so a functioning mobile website and/or app is vital for these projects to be completed. These kinds of tasks can require workers to take photos of shop displays, cars, landscapes and more. This means more workers can take part in this kind of work due to the different methods tasks can be completed. This leads to projects being completed in a timely manner.

Examples of Microtasks

Clients of many kinds use platforms to gain data, advance their AI or software, get feedback or even finished products. Asking workers to check certain websites for a specific piece of information or an attribute is an example of gathering data. Advancing AI comes in many forms such as training a voice activated product to understand different accents. All the way to showing software in a self driving vechicle where hazards lie in a road. Feedback can be sought via simple surveys or product analysis. However, it is also captured during mystery shops or visits. Some clients will want workers to create final products. For example, getting several workers to write entries for the same blog.

The Microtasking Process

Different platforms will have different ways of microtasking. However, most excellent platforms will offer various options to clients. For simple projects a some clients use a self-service option. This is where the client can upload the required tasks themselves and set the required parameters and instructions. The platform management may look over the microtasking project to check it’s running well but they won’t have much more input. Another option is to explain what is required and let the platform management create a bespoke, tailored project that suits the client’s requirements with plenty of involvement and monitoring.

Once the project has been tested it can be put online for workers to take part. Comprehensive instructions and examples will be shown to the workers to ensure that they do a good job. In some cases, such as at clickworker.com there are layers of quality control. Here we will make sure that the work is being done correctly, this can be done in several ways. Specific quality control workers or teams will spot check the work of several different workers to ensure a high level of accuracy. However, some clients will want all work to be checked. Therefore, once a microtask has been completed, it is queued for someone else to check who will approve or decline the job. Sometimes, workers will get a chance to correct any errors and submit again. Once all checks have been completed, the data will be compiled, formatted and sent to the client.