Mechanical Turk, Visual Studio Edition
Amazon recently introduced Mechanical Turk, a site that automates the process of taking work that only humans can do well (like judge the quality of a photograph) and paying users to do that work. Anyone can log in, spend some time ranking photographs and make a few bucks.
I want this as a Visual Studio plugin. Here’s how it would work.
I’m a typical coder, which means I’m lazy. I sit down to write an app and part of what this app does is read settings from a config file. This is boring work, so typically the first time through, I fudge it:
// TODO: Move this into a config file
numThreads = 4;
serverName = “bob.com”;
The act of reading this info from a config file is perfect Mechanical Turk work. It’s work that any developer with basic skills can do, but it’s just typing. If I could pay someone $1 to do this work for me, I’d do it. Here’s how:
First off, you select the code you want to replace, and select Submit to Turk from the menu:
Now you have to answer some basic questions. What do you want the new code to do, and how much are you willing to pay for it:
I submit this. Now as I continue typing, somewhere out there a Turk takes this work unit and does it. In a few minutes, I receive this notifiation:
Cool! View Now…
There it is! I’ve given a coder somewhere $1.00 (plus a 15% tip) for saving me a bit of time. The workflow being integrated into Visual Studio is what makes it worthwhile – if it was email based or something like that, the overhead would be more work than the time you were saving.
Now, someone go implement this! Any volunteers?