A Day in the Life of an Appen Contributor: Yolanda Swilley-Smith

At Appen, what we do best, and pride ourselves on, is making high-quality training datasets. But, we couldn’t do it without our Appen Contributors. Our crowd of contributors is made up of over 1 million people across the globe. Our contributors speak over 180 different languages and work on thousands of different data projects to create the training datasets that our customers need.

What Our Appen Contributors Are Working On

Our Appen contributors work with machine learning programs to efficiently and effectively label data to create training datasets. The training data is then used by our customers to train AI algorithms how to read and process data to get the desired results.

Training data is created by collecting, sorting, preparing, and labeling each individual piece of data to create a set. Each data point must be accurately annotated, or labeled, for it to be useful when training a machine learning model.

Each Appen project is slightly different. Some training data must be labeled with a bounding box to identify a visible object while other data requires translating or transcribing a word. Some Appen projects require contributors to watch or read something and for the camera to track their eye movements. Each project is different, which makes it easy for anyone to become a contributor and find a project that they find interesting.

As critical members of the Appen team, we’ve decided to highlight individual contributors and celebrate their accomplishments. This series of posts features one contributor and shares their experience working with Appen. You can find past posts on our blog.

Meet: Yolanda Swilley-Smith


In this post, we’re highlighting and celebrating contributor Yolanda Swilley-Smith. Yolanda lives in Florida and is the mother of three adult children, grandmother to 12, and great-grandmother to 4. She is an adventurous senior who loves to travel, crochet, garden, and learn new things.

As part of her adventurous spirit and desire to learn new things, Yolanda joined the Appen contributor team in 2015. She’s consistently worked on Appen projects since joining and is currently testing and applying to multiple projects. “When candidates apply to work as a contributor at Appen, they get to choose which projects to work on,” says Yolanda. “There are always a number of different projects going on, which gives applicants and contributors the ability to choose what works for them and their interests.”

Why Work for Appen?

For Yolanda, the decision to become an Appen Contributor was simple: “I decided to be a contributor for Appen because I wanted my demographics to be represented when technology makes its advances. I enjoy being relevant and asked my opinion.” She goes on to say, “What I like about the tasks and projects are their specific guidelines but still the ability of the contractor to answer based on their socioeconomic status, gender, and ethnicity.”

At Appen, we know that diversity isn’t just a metric. The training data that we produce for our clients is only useful if it’s representative and whole. That means, we strive to look for gaps in the dataset and ensure that the data is representative of the whole population, not just a portion. Having contributors from around the world and representing different viewpoints helps us to gather a more representative pool of data.

Yolanda, like many of our contributors, loves this work because of the flexibility it provides. “My favorite part about being a contributor is my ability to be mobile and still earn a living,” she says. “Having the best of both worlds makes living more fun.”

Appen contributors can work whenever it’s convenient for them. For Yolanda, that’s generally from mid-morning to evening. She says, “This allows me the ability to wake up leisurely and do my morning self-care before starting my day. And completing by early evening to allow me the time necessary to do my school assignments, since I have decided to return to college to complete my degree in Psychology.”

Yolanda also says that Appen has given her the ability to be mobile and travel while still earning a living.

How You Can Become and Appen Contributor

Looking for flexible work hours and fair pay? You can become an Appen contributor, just like Yolanda. To get started, visit our jobs page and follow these simple steps.

  1. Select a project that interests you and read the instructions.
  2. Apply to work on the task.
  3. Start tasking! We track your task accuracy. A high accuracy rate means you can level up on work on more projects.

Working for Appen gives you the freedom to choose when you want to work and what projects you want to work on. You get to be part of a diverse team that’s contributing to and building the future of technology.

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