ShortTask: Connecting Online Job Seekers With Providers

25 Comments

ShortTaskShortTask is a marketplace for tasks, aiming to match-make “solvers” and “seekers”: people who have time to complete brief tasks and people who need small tasks completed.

In many ways, ShortTask is similar to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) service. Like MTurk, ShortTask is seeking to address tasks that aren’t large enough to necessitate the hiring of a contractor or part-time employee. This marketplace is largely oriented around activities that can be completed from home — ideal for web workers — and currently numbers around 61,000 available tasks.

Activities include transcribing audio and video files, annotating images, copywriting, commenting on blog posts or online forums, data entry and online research. Seekers simply publish a task, set a payment level and deadline. Solvers can explore the site and select the tasks they’d like to complete. ShortTask takes a 10 percent commission on each transaction.

ShortTask might be a useful way to find additional work. However, I’m uncomfortable at the payment levels set in the marketplace. Salon published a great article in 2006 examining the labor law implications of Mechanical Turk, “I make $1.45 a week and I love it!,” which suggested that MTurk-like services are undercutting the minimum wage.

For example, today ShortTask has listed a task to transcribe a 22-minute video, within four hours, for $5.50. That’s about $1.30 an hour, or the equivalent of $200 for a month’s work. That particular task is one of the better paying tasks listed at ShortTask; the worst fast-food service jobs will pay you better.

If services like ShortTask expect to flourish, they’ll need seekers to pay fairly, so that a reasonably sized population of solvers can be sustained. More significantly, the marketplace operators should at least adhere to minimum wage levels.

People have fought for the right to be equitably compensated. Codifying that in the services we use to find work is both essential and moral.

What do you think of marketplaces like ShortTask?

25 Comments

Angel

This REALLY IS SAD to say the least. This co. is a co. large enough to contract out this work and pay min wage plus……or pay min wage plus on this internet “opportunity” as they would say. I agree w/ Heather quoted here: ” “ShortTask is seeking to address tasks that aren’t large enough to necessitate the hiring of a contractor or part-time employee.”

See, that is where I disagree. Both ShortTask and Turk list jobs that people should be hiring a contractor or freelancer to complete. Many jobs go well beyond the scope of simple tasks. Instead, however, the jobs are listed on these sites in order to take advantage of the extremely low rates.”

This is just another way for a company to get richer quicker that really does take advantage.

Sara

Shorttask is a scam. I know it has been said before, but i feel the obligation to comment here. I wish I had know before applying and do some hard work there. Work for very little money is unfair, but worst is for no pay at all. These people DOESN’T PAY, no to mention they are using others to do their spam work (I know, the shady “tasks” sould have keep me off it in the first place, but when you are in the need of money….) That´s exactly what they are taking advage of. Stay away from them and spread the word: It’s a scam.

KISHORDGUPTA

people in poor country as example..like south east asia.. more particularly bangladesh. 1$=70 TAKA. IF A PERSON CAN EARN 100$ IN A MONTH HE CAN LIVE A MIDDLE STANDARD LIFE IN BANGLADESH. JUST REMEMBER A EGG IS COST HERE ONLY .01$. SO FOR US SHORTTASK.COM HAS HIS ATTRACTION.

WE R HUNGRY PEOPLE U KNOW

FTC Watch

People who earn cash through ShortTask by receiving payment will now be required to disclose that they have been paid to post positive comments about companies (particularly those owned by A. Harrison Barnes such as Employmentcrossing, Lawcrosing and Hound) or face up to an $11,000 fine per violation. This according to an FTC ruling that deems such activities as endorsements and considers a failue to disclose payments as consumer fraud and deception.

Peter

The best reviews of this site are at http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/467/RipOff04 and http://hubpages.com/hub/Short-Task–Scam.
It is an absolute scam. Short Task is designed to pay people to promote and advance all sites owned by A Harrison Barnes. I’ve looked at the site a few times and never saw a task that paid more than $3.00 and that was once. Most tasks just pay a few cents. Reaed the review at the link above. And there is no payout until a uer account hits $50 so it will take forever to receive a payout.

Jester

Thank you Anjan because you just proved that this is a scam site. You either work for A Harrison Barnes or you are from a non-US country and took the bait on short task ti promote A Harrisonn Barnes’ companies via this corrupt and scamming site (what is the currency Rs anyway?). So please don’t hold it against me and all of the other astute people if we do nt, as you ask, “APPLY NOW!!”

ANJAN

This job is for anyone who is looking for a genuine online job opportunity or anyone who wants to be a part of emerging online data entry/online e-mail processing/online data processing industry. This job is open for everyone and does not require any special qualification or specific computer skills. Currently the number of posts for online data entry executives are limited and applications will be accepted only till vacancies remain.We pay Rs 500/- Per Data Entry Work Done By You.So Apply Now !!

Ester

Short Task is a scam site run by Harrison Barnes, a person widely discussed as running other scam sites. Short Task was designed after Harrison Barnes was formally prohibited from using Amazon’s mTurk site because he repeatedly violated its terms of use. He copied mTurk and uses the site to get people to help promote his other scam sites by paying them a few pennies to post positive comments about his site. Every single task that I reviewed was designed to help raise his google rankings. Harrison Barnes also deceives users by making it look like the tasks are requested by diferent people but all are likely fake names. Worst of all, you won’t get paid until you hit fifty dollars in your account but at a few pennies per task it is almost impossible to ever hit the target. STAY AWAY FROM SHORT TASK!!!!!

Michael Wolff

OK, EPP and CBAstle: So, you can’t earn a living performing low value tasks nor can you find a job like the one you used to have. So what’s the solution? I would suggest that if you can’t join them, then you could try beating them at their own game.

How about thinking of the web as the future of work? And that being so, how you might organize yourself with other people who share the same or complementary skills, and whom you trust. How about if it’s really easy for you to create a team together (even if you’re scattered around the globe) to provide the best quality services at a fraction of the cost of the organizations that are now refusing to employ you? Why, not because you charge too little for your services, but because your overheads are so low.

Sounds daft? But see how top aviation consultant, Martin Hedley, has joined up with other leading consultants around the world to collaborate and compete head on with the top consultancy brands. It’s cost him virtually nothing to set up and he now has a global enterprise with zero overhead, and agile enough to run between the legs of the dinosaurs out there.

You can listen to his podcast
http://ki-work.typepad.com/kiwork/2009/03/aviation-consultancy-flies-high-using-ki-work-for-team-building.html

So, instead of being dependent on finding jobs that don’t exist, why not follow Martin and be in control of your own destiny? Get yourself organized into a virtual business that can compete head on with established companies. It could be your path to a new and sustainable future. No more humiliating low value contracts.

CBAstle

I’m with EPP. After 36 years in the newspaper business as a writer, editor, photographer and designer, I’m back to working for slave wages because the industry melted out from under me. I pick up freelance jobs from web sites like this and get paid 50 cents to $2 an article. Yet these projects consume as much time as putting out a full publication.

I wouldn’t take these low-budget projects if I didn’t have to put food on the table. I may yet go bankrupt this year as I haven’t been able to find a job, contract or otherwise, that matches the modest monthly salary I earned up until December. And yes, I have all kinds of management experience, and I can’t get paid a decent wage even for that.

Anelly

I don’t agree with the above comments. Maybe there are persons that take advantages of these short tasks. There are not only great skilled and advanced users of Internet. If you are one of these than you can search for work in some other place. But as i said there is not only one category of people and as a consequence we need all kind of opportunities.

Amanda Gail

Right ON. I don’t agree with anyone being treated like a slave, but I am still glad this site is here b/c for some this might be all or the best they can do. So, I guess like the others have said if you don’t feel like a slave here work here if you do then don’t work here. I am here b/c I am searching for extra income outside what my husband makes….being a stay at home mother of 2 such as myself is a never-ending job without salary. I wish I could find something decent and honest online to make $200.00 per wk. Anyone know of such a thing?? Please help me out by replying if you know.

EPP

As a graphic designer for 20 years and web designer for nearly 15, I have to say sites like this aren’t worth a look at. They aren’t paying rates any self respecting professional in the western world would consider – they never do – and part of the reason I’ve been put both out of business and then again out of work by company that outsourced to India, is simply that there are people on this planet for whom a few bucks USD are a very lively wage. I’m busy figuring out how to keep a roof over my head in the meantime but it was a good ride when it was valued!

Silverhammer

Waitaminute… I took a deeper look at the site and gotta ask, why are we spending any time at all on this? It’s just another A. Harrison Barnes scam site, and almost all of the tasks are from his other sites.

Silverhammer

@babyis60: That’s not the sort of project management I’m talking about. Sure, I too have had bosses like that, but they’ve already been plowed under by this economy. Real project managers are not generic MBAs who play with email and Gantt charts all day.

Besides, real managers and decision makers don’t work for those rates even in less developed countries. Globalization has already crossed that threshold.

Heather

“ShortTask is seeking to address tasks that aren’t large enough to necessitate the hiring of a contractor or part-time employee.”

See, that is where I disagree. Both ShortTask and Turk list jobs that people should be hiring a contractor or freelancer to complete. Many jobs go well beyond the scope of simple tasks. Instead, however, the jobs are listed on these sites in order to take advantage of the extremely low rates.

babyis60

Silverhammer – you are right, for now.

How long do you think before the project management jobs get outsourced? They are all email, video conferencing and phonecalls. The only location differentiators these days are access to markets and access to capital.

Kevin

I don’t think there is any moral obligation to set prices that meet minimum wage requirements for this type of work. This isn’t an employee-employer relationship. An employee essentially sells their time to an employer. In exchange for a fixed hourly rate the employee loses most control over the work they do and the times they can work. You don’t go to work at McDonalds and pick where you work or when you work. An employee can always quit if they don’t like the work or the conditions.

These types of services are more like micro-contracting relationships. Someone needs a specific task done for a fixed price. It’s up to the person taking the work to decide if it’s equitable for them. If it isn’t they shouldn’t take the work. The benefit, they choose when they work and what they work on, and if their is an opportunity to make a higher than average hourly rate if they can get the work done quickly.

That said… these rates are so low I don’t see why anyone trying to make the most money with their working time would actually consider doing them.

Silverhammer

This is globalization in action. The work seems underpaid because the site isn’t meant for you or me. It’s meant for all the people in less developed countries who may not be particularly skilled but do have an Internet connection and a basic grasp of English.

The way to avoid falling into that pit is to have high-tech skills and project management experience, so that you’re the one posting the jobs rather than searching them.

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