Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mechanical Turk, Charity, and Incentives

We were discussing in class today how to provide the appropriate incentives for users to participate in systems that rely on the "wisdom of the crowds". We have seen that small monetary incentives are not really a good motivation for people to join, but fun, or a sense of contribution are better sources of motivation.

Then, the topic of Mechanical Turk came up, and there was some discussion on whether the existing monetary incentives are the best possible. One idea, by Amichai Lesser, was to allow Turkers to send their rewards directly to a charity, instead of accumulating insignificant amounts of money. Given that a large number of people on Mechanical Turk complete tasks for fun and not for money, the idea of allowing users to convert their participation into direct contributions to a charity seemed like a no-brainer.

Amazon, will you implement this? :-)