The doom-mongers seem to have it wrong. Robots and computers still haven’t outperformed us in all respects. On the contrary – they still need us to train them by feeding them countless data. Many online panels, including the most well-known Amazon MTurk, have made a fortune by connecting clients with millions of digital workers to this end. In this Clickworker review, we are set to determine whether this platform is good enough or just another waste of time and energy.
People are still in this game only because artificial intelligence hasn’t developed enough yet. Or maybe because it makes financial sense to harness collective knowledge and skills of millions of microworkers. Better to throw peanuts their way than pay hefty sums to professionals. Were the doom-mongers so wrong after all?
A Quick Company Overview
The company behind this platform was born back in 2005, which means it’s one of the oldest players in this fast-paced industry. Its headquarters are in Germany, which should add another layer of trust. Better than some fishy firm based in the middle of nowhere, don’t you think? Well, we have yet to see whether the location is guarantee enough.
To this day, the platform has acquired nearly two million microworkers from all walks of life and all corners of the earth.
How Does It Work?
Just as I expected, they will accept nearly anyone, in whichever country you happen to reside. Whether there’ll be enough work for everyone is another question. The only formal requirements you need to meet is to be over 18 years old and have an active PayPal account. They may also ask for your tax info somewhere in the process.
The registration will take well over a few minutes if you plan to do it right. That’s because they will want to test your skills before offering you any assignments. Provide work samples if you have them – they will increase your chances of being a match for the corresponding tasks. Complete your profile with languages, hobbies and skills. If you speak any languages other than your native, you can upload certificates or other proof of your proficiency. Under Hobbies & Know-How, you can tick up to five Know-How topics, and as many hobbies as you want. These will also determine the type of assignments you’re about to get.
My Experience With the Training
Next, you will have a short training to showcase your skills. My training assignment was to tag certain products. It required simple skills such as careful reading and understanding of guidelines, meticulousness, and an eye for detail.
The tasks were easy alright. For example, I was shown a photo with a bunch of products, and was required to ascertain whether a particular brand was there. If you’re in doubt, you can always google the brand and take a look at their products. Other types of questions were to count how many of particular objects are there on the photo, or what shape they assumed.
Note, however, that you’re in for quite a bit of monotony. As you’re staring into the pictures, zooming in and out to observe the smallest detail, it gets rather tedious. But hey, you’re better at this than any computer, so what’s the point in complaining?
As for me, there were a total of 46 questions. When I was done (after about two hours), my results were 84 hits out of 100, with 80 enough to let me pass. However, they weren’t completely positive on this. The message only said that I may get some projects later if my score was above 80.
And there I was – back to my dashboard, with no other projects or assignments. I didn’t receive any kind of incentive for my time. After all, it was only training.
Then, a few available gigs rolled out. The payments ranged from €0.35 to €16 per job, with optional bonus here and there. Is it good or bad? Well, depends on how long it takes to complete those projects, and what they are asking for.
Types of Work Available on Clickworker
- Helping train AI apps. This may involve, for example, taking photos of yourself or your family members, and uploading them to the system. The machine then learns to interpret visual cues from an aggregation of pictures and data that bazillions of users are feeding it.
- Product description and copywriting. You may get anything from 50-word descriptions to blog posts, instruction papers, reviews, or even editorial articles. (But if you’re an experienced copywriter, you’d better forget this panel and look for work elsewhere!)
- Translation. Remember how I told you that you should garnish your profile with all the languages you speak? The more you have, the better your chances are to land translation gigs.
- Sorting and cataloguing images. It’s basically what I experienced in the training assignment. You get a photo or two and a set of instructions. Identify this, locate that, determine the shape… That sort of thing. Naturally, there is room for small errors and mistakes, as long as they still allow for a clear picture.
- Research, data entry or data scraping. A client may need someone to hunt down all the gyms in a small town, with names, phone numbers and addresses.
- Taking surveys. Well that’s a well-known type of task here on SurveyCool!
- Payments go through PayPal. That makes it as simple and convenient as possible. If PayPal doesn’t work in your country, you can opt for TransferWise or have them pay directly to your bank account if you’re in the Single Euro Payment Area.
- Low cashout threshold – you can get your hands on your earnings every Wednesday if you manage to accrue €5. That’s a bit over $5.50 at the moment, which should be fairly easy to earn.
- No geographical restrictions. As of this writing, they seem to accept people from all over the world. That’s not to say that everybody gets equal earning opportunities, though.
- Mobile apps for Android and iPhone are a convenient solution to take simpler tasks while you’re out and about.
- If you’re fast and accurate, you may get better pay for the same gig or get better gigs in the future. Or at least that’s what they say in the FAQ.
- Their sister platform UHRS (short for Universal Human Relevant System) seems to offer gigs that pay way better. Alas, it isn’t available in all countries – which is probably why I never found the option to sign up. Maybe it doesn’t even work at the moment.
- Compensations are often low, and sometimes downright ridiculous. Getting less than $1 per task that may take an hour really doesn’t seem very promising. Nor is it in line with their estimate of $9 per hour!
- Less feast, more famine. With over a million users, it makes sense that there’s less job for everyone. When I completed my training assignment, I got a list of a dozen available gigs. A few of them required personal info. Another few were not even worth $1. Can you guess how many I ended up accepting? None!
- Disqualifications are common even in the middle of a task, when you’ve already spent some time on it. If it happens all too often, it might lead us to believe that somebody’s fond of free work! As if the pay wasn’t low enough as it is.
- Some tasks will require you to upload or enter your sensitive personal data. For example, I came across an assignment to help train an authentication app by uploading my photo, as well as that of my ID. And I wasn’t allowed to blur or otherwise remove my personal data. Naturally, I skipped the task and proceeded with the next one. Which you can always do whenever you have a problem with the requirements.
- According to some common user complaints, clients are often difficult to please. Which in turn means that you can finish the work without getting paid. Now, this is a natural thing with freelancing. But if it happens all too often, it kinda triggers the red alert. Even though the fault probably isn’t with the platform, the question of their client selection lingers on.
- Many users complain about their accounts being shut down for no obvious reason. Just take a look at their rating on TrustPilot. Many of the numerous 1-star reviewers are furious about this.
Conclusion – Will You Try Out the Panel After This Clickworker Review?
I have to admit that I could hardly bring myself to face this project with a cool, objective attitude. This panel employs the methodology of microwork, a uniquely 21st-century notion. It means taking up a huge and complex task and breaking it down to small, mindless, micro-tasks. Then, you can crowdsource those tasks to a huge number of freelancers from all over the world. Naturally, those freelancers will demand some kind of compensation. But it won’t be anywhere near the minimum hourly rate in the US, for example. On the outside, it seems like a fair trade considering the simplicity of those tasks. When you look at the big picture, however, it smacks of exploitation.
And that is precisely the cause of endless ongoing debates. Does this kind of digital labor provide people in poorer countries with a unique opportunity to earn their daily bread without being exposed to all sorts of physical exploitation? Or does it capitalize and thrive on their destitution to begin with?
Such companies often claim that their mission is to help out those who are in need of work. After all, tagging and describing pictures is so much easier than breaking your back on a brick-and-mortar sweatshop. And it often pays much better compared to the regular wages in underdeveloped countries. So I will leave this ethical dilemma to people who are more suited and qualified to explore it.
Whether it is possible to make a living on microworker depends entirely on your circumstances. If you’re living in the developed world, I recommend not to rely on it extensively. Even though you can use it to supplement your income, it’s nowhere near a serious money-maker.
But if a couple bucks per day does make a difference for you, who I am to say no?