skip to main content

Title: Predicting the Working Time of Microtasks Based on Workers' Perception of Prediction Errors
Crowd workers struggle to earn adequate wages. Given the limited task-related information provided on crowd platforms, workers often fail to estimate how long it would take to complete certain microtasks. Although there exist a few third-party tools and online communities that provide estimates of working times, such information is limited to microtasks that have been previously completed by other workers, and such tasks are usually booked immediately by experienced workers. This paper presents a computational technique for predicting microtask working times (i.e., how much time it takes to complete microtasks) based on past experiences of workers regarding similar tasks. The following two challenges were addressed during development of the proposed predictive model — (i) collection of sufficient training data labeled with accurate working times, and (ii) evaluation and optimization of the prediction model. The paper first describes how 7,303 microtask submission data records were collected using a web browser extension — installed by 83 Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) workers — created for characterization of the diversity of worker behavior to facilitate accurate recording of working times. Next, challenges encountered in defining evaluation and/or objective functions have been described based on the tolerance demonstrated by workers with regard to prediction errors. To this end, surveys were conducted in AMT asking workers how they felt regarding prediction errors in working times pertaining to microtasks simulated using an “imaginary” AI system. Based on 91,060 survey responses submitted by 875 workers, objective/evaluation functions were derived for use in the prediction model to reflect whether or not the calculated prediction errors would be tolerated by workers. Evaluation results based on worker perceptions of prediction errors revealed that the proposed model was capable of predicting worker-tolerable working times in 73.6% of all tested microtask cases. Further, the derived objective function contributed to realization of accurate predictions across microtasks with more diverse durations.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Human computation
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    The artificial intelligence (AI) industry has created new jobs that are essential to the real world deployment of intelligent systems. Part of the job focuses on labeling data for machine learning models or having workers complete tasks that AI alone cannot do. These workers are usually known as ‘crowd workers’—they are part of a large distributed crowd that is jointly (but separately) working on the tasks although they are often invisible to end-users, leading to workers often being paid below minimum wage and having limited career growth. In this chapter, we draw upon the field of human–computer interaction to provide research methods for studying and empowering crowd workers. We present our Computational Worker Leagues which enable workers to work towards their desired professional goals and also supply quantitative information about crowdsourcing markets. This chapter demonstrates the benefits of this approach and highlights important factors to consider when researching the experiences of crowd workers. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Allocation strategies improve the efficiency of crowdsourcing by decreasing the work needed to complete individual tasks accurately. However, these algorithms introduce bias by preferentially allocating workers onto easy tasks, leading to sets of completed tasks that are no longer representative of all tasks. This bias challenges inference of problem-wide properties such as typical task difficulty or crowd properties such as worker completion times, important information that goes beyond the crowd responses themselves. Here we study inference about problem properties when using an allocation algorithm to improve crowd efficiency. We introduce Decision-Explicit Probability Sampling (DEPS), a novel method to perform inference of problem properties while accounting for the potential bias introduced by an allocation strategy. Experiments on real and synthetic crowdsourcing data show that DEPS outperforms baseline inference methods while still leveraging the efficiency gains of the allocation method. The ability to perform accurate inference of general properties when using non-representative data allows crowdsourcers to extract more knowledge out of a given crowdsourced dataset.

    more » « less
  3. Microtask crowdsourcing organizes complex work into workflows, decomposing large tasks into small, relatively independent microtasks. Applied to software development, this model might increase participation in open source software development by lowering the barriers to contribution and dramatically decrease time to market by increasing the parallelism in development work. To explore this idea, we have developed an approach to decomposing programming work into microtasks. Work is coordinated through tracking changes to a graph of artifacts, generating appropriate microtasks and propagating change notifications to artifacts with dependencies. We have implemented our approach in CrowdCode, a cloud IDE for crowd development. To evaluate the feasibility of microtask programming, we performed a small study and found that a small crowd of 12 workers was able to successfully write 480 lines of code and 61 unit tests in 14.25 person-hours of time. 
    more » « less
  4. Crowd development is a development process designed for transient workers of varying skill. Work is organized into microtasks, which are short, self-descriptive, and modular. Microtasks recursively spawn microtasks and are matched to workers, who accrue points reflecting value created. Crowd development might help to reduce time to market and software development costs, increase programmer productivity, and make programming more fun. 
    more » « less
  5. Traditional forms of crowdsourcing such as open source software development harness crowd contributions to democratize the creation of software. However, potential contributors must first overcome joining barriers forcing casually committed contributors to spend days or weeks onboarding and thereby reducing participation. To more effectively harness potential contributions from the crowd, we propose a method for programming in which work occurs entirely through microtasks, offering contributors short, self-contained tasks such as implementing part of a function or updating a call site invoking a function to match a change made to the function. In microtask programming, microtasks involve changes to a single artifact, are automatically generated as necessary by the system, and nurture quality through iteration. A study examining the feasibility of microtask programming to create small programs found that developers were able to complete 1008 microtasks, onboard and submit their first microtask in less than 15 minutes, complete all types of microtasks in less than 5 minutes on average, and create 490 lines of code and 149 unit tests. The results demonstrate the potential feasibility as well as revealing a number of important challenges to address to successfully scale microtask programming to larger and more complex programs. 
    more » « less