Weird non-comedic entry here: Slacktory got pitched this viral stunt thing where you guess the number of jellybeans in a massive grow-a-human-in-a-tank-sized jar, and you can win at least $125,000. But there are a few catches.
1. There’s a ten-hour video of all the beans riding a conveyor belt into the jar, so theoretically you could keep pausing the video and manually count every bean, and your guess would be exact (though you’d probably want to also guess the whole range with a radius of fifty or so).
2. And you probably should approach it that way, because 90% of the prize only goes to the first absolutely correct guess. The remaining 10% is split among all later correct guesses.
3. It’s like a lottery; every guess costs $5 and the more people enter, the bigger the prize is. You can’t know if someone’s already made the first correct guess.
So how much would it cost to farm this out on Amazon Mechanical Turk, one hour of video at a time (I did a quick test and I think it takes five to ten hours to examine one hour of video), ordering two counts from separate workers for each segment to avoid miscounts (ordering a third count whenever your first two counts don’t match)? How little will people do this work for? Say people will examine an hour for fifty bucks. You pay $5000 for the counts, plus maybe $1000 for recount costs. You enter $500 worth of guesses for the range of 100 beans centered on your main guess. If the contest is a success and enough people entered, you win $125,000 or more. If the contest fails, they refund you your guess cost but you’re still out $6000 on Mechanical Turk.
I told all this to my girlfriend and she said I sounded like someone’s crazy uncle starting a terrible real estate scheme.