Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is, among other things, a great place to get cheap labor to perform simple tasks that help black hat SEO efforts and general social network spamming. The problem is growing so large that it’s becoming a serious pollution issue, and we’ve begun real research to try to track the big guys who are behind it. And we’re using new search engine Blekko, which is transparent about page ranking, to understand how search engines deal with all this stuff.
During our research we found something very peculiar – Quora is using Mechanical Turk to mass create Twitter accounts: “Given a name, username, password, and email address, create a new Twitter account,” says the posting. You’ll be paid 15 cents, and as of today there were 1,483 opportunities still available.
Say what? That sounds bad. Is Quora creating fake Twitter accounts to drive links, traffic and SEO to their site?
No, actually. So Twitter should hold off before banning them. I spoke with Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo earlier today and there’s a perfectly reasonable, albeit fascinating, reason they’re doing this.
“Quora is looking at using Twitter as an alternative for topic RSS feeds,” he said. There’s currently no way to mass create Twitter accounts via their API, so it’s either employees doing this manually or an outsource job at $0.15 per account.
So nothing evil’s going on here, and actually the steady replacement of RSS by Twitter is certainly a good thing for Twitter at least. Now we’re just looking forward to being able to track some Quora topics on Twitter as well as email. No word from Quora, though, on when this might launch.