In the “early days” of the Internet, when work from home/freelancing opportunities started popping up, it seemed that the most prevalent way to make money was through writing short SEO (Search Engine Optimization) articles to promote various websites. However, with regular changes to search engine algorithms, the need to understand data has never been higher, and that’s where microtasks come in.
Microtasks are, as their name implies, short jobs offered by various platforms that can include evaluating search results, categorizing information, tagging data, etc. In the case of Spare5, it’s specifically about providing insight regarding mostly image files.
How It All Works
They have a comprehensive FAQ section, as well as an introductory video – it’s so much information that it can get a little confusing. Basically, there are XP points to be earned, which in turn unlock tasks. There’s an annotation level, a categorization level, a phone survey level, a rating level, a research level, and a writing level. As of this writing, payouts are issued every week by Friday at 5PM (Seattle time) to . PayPal accounts only, the minimum being $1.00 (you can adjust that minimum to a higher amount if, for example, you’d prefer to accrue your earnings and be paid less frequently).
It’s easy to sign up for Spare5 – in fact, you can just sign up via your Facebook, Gmail, or LinkedIn account if you so choose. Then, you’re directed to a dashboard with a welcome survey, qualifier tasks, and tutorials. Passing qualifiers makes you eligible to be selected for paid tasks in those skills. Some tasks are available only on iOS devices, others only on a computer. They usually have more tasks on the computer, and they recommend the Chrome browser.
A Question of Logic
I began with the welcome survey, which was quite straightforward, asking for basics like my location, and what languages I could speak and read. It all maybe took a minute or so, for which I earned $0.10. Off to a promising start, I decided to proceed to the one (unpaid) qualifier task, which was to review photographs of common objects in terms of image content, image composition, image lighting, and image focus. There were several slides of instructions, which at first seemed easy enough, until I actually tried to apply what I “learned” to the task (additional test slides).
It was one of those sorts of things where the logical choice wasn’t what they were looking for. For example, there was a picture of a scarf that was obviously a scarf, even if it was sort of twisted on the table it was placed on. Yet, to say it was a scarf was wrong. The other questions proceeded in much the same way. It was no surprise that I failed my first try, which wasn’t a big deal since they just let you retake it again at some point. I tried the following day, and did a little better (by this, I mean I only got two wrong, earning a score of 80%). Alas, though, in Spare5’s world, this was still a failing score.
Understandably annoyed, I decided to check out the (unpaid) tutorials, which had to do with their bounding box tool, ellipses tool, line drawing tool, segmentation tool, and points tool. I decided to try their bounding box tool tutorial, since I’ve done those sorts of microtasks on other platforms. It was even worse than the qualifier task. It was one of those things where I was literally less than a centimeter off from their (incredibly picky) system and nope, it wasn’t correct.
I came to the conclusion that Spare5 wasn’t something I wanted to continue with – it’s my opinion that their expectations are entirely too high for a microtask site. It all reminded me of the unreasonable testing expectations set forth by OneSpace (you can read my review of that, all-too-familiar-experience, here).
Per their requirements for deleting an account, I sent an email to their support team, which was promptly and courteously taken care of.
All of this being said, even though Spare5 wasn’t for me, you industrious freelancers out there might still want to give it a try, especially if you’re incredibly patient and precise!
You can sign up for Spare5 here.
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