Anyway, to cut a medium story short, I won a good chunk of money. To fluff a short story into a medium one, it turns out that while doing HiTs on Mechanical Turk, I managed to hit the mother lode. For a while now, I've occasionally worked on some tasks which ask people to create trivia questions on a preset topic. They ask for at least 3 multiple choice questions for which they pay you $.30 and you can write up to 5 additional questions for a dime each on the subject. This means that you can get up to $.80 per task and $.10 per question. I'm still relatively new to Mechanical Turk and it's not easy for me to find tasks which pay a decent amount and are worth the time and effort to do them. I sometimes think that part of my problem is that I'm a little too earnest when it comes to the site and put in more effort then is absolutely necessary rather than being more half-assed about it. This means that it often takes me more time per task then it has to and as a consequence, I end up making less money. For example, for the trivia questions I would really put through an effort to make the questions interesting and non-repetitive, though that made them harder to create. I've never had a submission rejected so I'm not sure how much above the bar I am, but I'm certain I could probably put less polish into it and get the exact same result. As it is, I would say that it took me around 15 minutes at the minimum to put together a set of questions given the research and reading that was necessary. That means that I was essentially working for around $3.20 a hour. One the plus side, at least the task wasn't repetitive and I actually found it sort of interesting to search out fun facts on a variety of topics. Still, $3.20 is pretty crummy no matter how you slice it.
That said, part of what attracted me to doing the trivia HiTs in the first place was the fact that there was text on each one saying that once you hit 30 accepted submissions (so, 240 trivia questions in total) they would double the bonus money you were paid. This would then make the payout $1.30 for 8 questions, which seemed pretty spiffy. They also said that each month a single trivia question would be chosen to receive a $100 bonus. Right around the time that I was close to hitting 30 submissions, the text about the double bonus disappeared from all their tasks. The part about the $100 was still there but I figured my chance of seeing that were infinitesimally small. After all, if they could yank the part about doubling the bonus with no notice, then who's to say that the $100 prize actually existed in the first place.
I had more or less written the whole thing off when I got a notice in my email that I had received $60 in bonus money. Nothing like that had ever happened before and when I read the note attached, it turned out that the trivia company had decided to select 10 finalist questions and award each $10. Of the 10, 6 of mine had been chosen to my shock, and would all compete for the $100 first prize. I felt pretty good about my chances given that it was essentially better than even odds that I could take home the prize. I even told my family about it while we were out for my grandmother's birthday dinner and everyone was happy for me. Now that I think about it, viewed from another perspective, it's also a sign of just how petty and small my life is that $60 and a chance for $100 more becomes something to really celebrate. That said, a few days later, I received another notification that I had won. $160 in the bank.
In case any of you out there are actually curious about the winning question, here it is in all its glory:
Q: In Hippocratic and medieval medicine, tears were seen as a method to clear extra humors from what organ?
A. The brain
B. The heart
C. The lungs
D. The stomach
The answer being, of course, A. I've always found medieval medicine sort of fascinating and actually learned a lot of interesting things researching the topic. It just made it all the better that instead of simply making the $.10 I had been expected, it ended up scoring me $110. That's about as good as it gets around here. Now that I know the prize actually exists, I will admit that it does sort of fire me up to see if there's another drawing for July and if I can write more winning entries. It's not like I'm in dire financial straits given the support I receive, but making a little money, even if it's very little, does make me feel somewhat better about the situation.