Who is CrowdSurf?

| December 18, 2012; updated March 31, 2013
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As some of you may have noticed, there’s a new transcription requester in town. CrowdSurf has a very nice HIT design, but some Turkers are wondering why it is that they seem to have put a new logo on Claritrans materials (the style guide, for instance) and called it all theirs.

Some Turkers have even gotten emails, seemingly out of the blue, to let them know they’ve been awarded qualifications for CrowdSurf, despite never having actually taken the CrowdSurf qual test. And of course, this is unusual, because there’s really no way that different Mechanical Turk companies can share lists of Turkers they’ve qualified…unless, of course, they’re the same company.

In response to my inquiries, I got this in an email today from CrowdSurf, which confirms it. Clearly, CrowdSurf and Claritrans are the same at the company level:

Crwodsurf [sic] is a new company that was born from Claritrans. Crowdsurf will will [sic] focus on transcription from a video source  and Claritrans will focus on transcription from an audio source.

Checking out CrowdSurf on the Web makes it clear that Turkers are probably the only people who are ever meant to know that CrowdSurf exists. The company has no Web presence of its own, and they are not mentioned on the Claritrans website, either. It’s obvious that Claritrans just wanted to have a new requester name for their video transcription HITs.

I checked out the CrowdSurf qual test myself, and I can tell you it’s pretty much the same as that for Claritrans. No word yet as to whether they’ll keep on just cross-awarding the qual if you take one and do well with those HITs; however, considering the tests are so similar, you’ll have no trouble passing one if you pass the other. And it should be easy to cross between the two types of HITs, because the style guide is exactly nearly the same.

So far, the TurkOpticon reviews on CrowdSurf are few (of course) but positive. Still, remember that because CrowdSurf and Claritrans are the same entity, it’s very likely that their grading and rejection policies will be the same as well. So I’d suggest that you assume that working for one will be just like working for the other.

Speaking of the work, these are some well-constructed transcription HITs. Each one has a nice video player embedded, and more hotkeys are included than with any other requester’s player. So, if you enjoy video transcription, you will certainly enjoy the look and feel of these HITs!

I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything else about them. Please do the same in the comments. Because CrowdSurf is so new, it’d be great to hear how you like them. It’ll be especially interesting if they seem to be doing business in some way that is different from Claritrans’ model!


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Category: Company Dishing

Comments (19)

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  1. Levi Watt says:

    I’ve completed several hundred CrowdSurf HITs in the past, but recently I have not been able to play the videos correctly. When I click play, the video only plays for a fraction of a second and then stops. In order to get through an entire video I have to continuously click play over and over. Do you have any advice on how to fix this problem or know where I could find out? Thanks!

    • Amy Marre says:

      Hi, Levi,

      I’m sorry to take so long to realize that I never answered your comment.

      I think you need to email CrowdSurf directly about this. I have not heard of anyone else having this issue, and I think if many others were, CrowdSurf would be having trouble getting their HITs worked on—and that’s clearly not the case.

      Honestly, it sounds like you may have made (unknowingly, even) some change in your system that is causing it. But CrowdSurf is the best place to ask for support on this. I can’t guarantee they will respond, but no one would be able to answer better than they. Good luck!

  2. SpencerWrites says:

    Just checking in about CS rating system. My current score is 187, which seems to mean it’s not fixed yet. Great blog, and thanks for all the tips. Your ebook has been really helpful to me as a newbie turker. Thanks!

    • Amy Marre says:

      Hi there, SpencerWrites,

      Thanks for confirming. Yes, one wonders whether they’ve decided it’s a feature! I’ve recently come across someone with a score of over 600, so obviously CrowdSurf feels no rush about addressing it.

      You’re very welcome for the book and the blog and the tips. I’m always so happy to hear it when someone has found any or all of them helpful!

  3. ProfessorCNut says:

    You are welcome. This is a well organized webpage, with valuable information. Thanks for the speedy response, and I am quite certain as I venture further into the world of transcription on MT, I will have cause to visit here for more often. Thanks again.

  4. ProfessorCNut says:

    I have been working “CrowdSurf” for a lengthy period now, and just received a first rejection after “100′s” of approved submissions. That gave me cause to do some research on them. (Pay is too low to justify taking that risk.) Anyhow, as to address the qualifications ratings, I just received my last “notification” I had reached 475 for a rating. Guess that throws the old 90 to 100 theory out the door. Or I am the ultimate “glitch” in their system. Thanks for the info. Excellent write up!

    • Amy Marre says:


      You’re quite welcome, and thanks for your kind words.

      I agree completely that pay is too low with them to make it worth risking rejections. After the research I’ve recently been conducting for the second edition of the transcription help book for Turkers, I also think CrowdSurf remains unsafe to totally trust.

      Good luck with getting that rejection reversed, though I’m betting (sorry to say) that they won’t do a thing about it.

      I don’t think that 90-100 thing is just a theory, though. It sounds like they still mean to change it. They’re just not prioritizing the change. Meanwhile, though, everyone seems to be getting to keep whatever score they’ve gotten.

      In any case, thank you for taking the time to weigh in!

  5. Connie says:

    I’ve just started with CrowdSurf and my initial score was at 100 after I qualified, now I’m up to about 130 after only a few days of work.

    • Amy Marre says:

      Hello, Connie,

      Thanks for sending word! Yes, I’ve not had any reports that CrowdSurf has “fixed” their rating system, so if they still consider it a bug that folks have scores above 100, it must not be an important bug to them. Also, they have not demonstrated so far that they are great at communicating with Turkers about their plans and expectations (I’ve been finding a lot of evidence for that lately), so it’s still possible they consider it an issue. But, as long as you’re following their style carefully, I don’t expect that you’d have too many issues, either way.

  6. Michelle says:

    Just wanted to let you know that, as of right now, they still have not fixed their “over 100″ glitch. In fact, I just started working on CrowdSurf HITs this morning, and after having had just 20 or so approved, I received an automated message that my score had risen to 101.

    Maybe they’ve decided to keep it? I came here looking for info, since there seems to be little elsewhere, in the hopes that maybe higher scores would make me eligible for more work. No such luck, though, I guess!

    • Amy Marre says:

      Thanks, Michelle. Yes, with CrowdSurf, as with Claritrans, it’s hard to say what they’re thinking—they’re just not very communicative. So they might still think of it as a glitch and might not; I’ve heard of folks with scores at 260 and above. It’s pretty unclear what their plans are, and as you say, they might be intending to stick with it!

      Love to hear further about your quest for more work, though. Are you seeing some CrowdSurf HITs that you can’t work on because they require qual scores higher than 90? That would be news to me, which is why I ask!

      In any case, good luck with finding more CrowdSurf work.

  7. Rainbowscape says:

    I think Joshin is right. My qual score for them keeps getting raised.

    As for the score of 90, if you look at their posted HITs, the required qualification says:

    Qualified to work on Transcription Tasks is not less than 90

    • Amy Marre says:

      Great to know. I’ve not been in research mode within Turk lately, so I appreciate the information!

    • Amy Marre says:

      Adding new information: CrowdSurf themselves have now said that qual scores over 100 are from a glitch in their system. According to them, they intend the range for their qual to be 90 to 100 when all the kinks are worked out.

  8. Josphin says:

    I think the initial qualification awarded by crowdsurf is 100 and they add or subtract based on your succeeding tasks if they’re accepted or rejected. But if you went below 90, you won’t be qualified anymore to do more of their hits.

    • Amy Marre says:

      Hi, Josphin, and welcome to the blog!

      Thanks for this info. That certainly makes sense. I’d love to know how you got the information about 90 as the bottommost point. Did they give you any documentation about that?

      FYI, I’ve already heard of people having qual scores over 180, so apparently the upper limit is much higher than the lower limit.

  9. Ndaniels says:

    Crowdsurf is cross qualifying, I was awarded qualifications the same level I had with Claritrans before I ever did any hits for them.

    • Amy Marre says:

      Exactly! That’s what I meant in the second paragraph of the post. It was the first big giveaway that they are the same company as Claritrans, because Amazon doesn’t provide any way otherwise for requesters to have access to each others’ records.

      Welcome to the blog, by the way. :) And thanks for the update so that it’s clear this is still going on!