Lucas Layman, Gunnar Sigurdsson
• L. Layman and G. Sigurdsson, “Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for User Studies: Eight Things You Need to Know,” in Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM 2013), (Baltimore, Maryland, USA), pp. 275–278, 2013
Publication year: 2013

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a crowd sourcing technology that enables requesters to create tasks to be completed by human agents in exchange for compensation. Researchers in computer science have successfully used this service to quickly reach large numbers of subjects for a relatively low cost. However, the Mechanical Turk’s model and policies introduce several experimental limitations and threats that must be controlled. In this short paper, we describe limitations imposed using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk during an experiment on cyber-attack investigation techniques. While the experiment was successful, we were forced to change our experimental design and had to recover from some costly mistakes. The goal of this short paper is to identify these limitations and pitfalls and provide eight considerations for experimental design so that other researchers can maximize the benefits of using the Mechanical Turk as a research platform.