Getting More for Less: Optimized Crowdsourcing with Dynamic Tasks and Goals


In crowdsourcing systems, the interests of contributing participants and system stakeholders are often not fully aligned. Participants seek to learn, be entertained, and perform easy tasks, which offer them instant gratification; system stakeholders want users to complete more difficult tasks, which bring higher value to the crowdsourced application. We directly address this problem by presenting techniques that optimize the crowdsourcing process by jointly maximizing the user longevity in the system and the true value that the system derives from user participation. We first present models that predict the "survival probability" of a user at any given moment, that is, the probability that a user will proceed to the next task offered by the system. We then leverage this survival model to dynamically decide what task to assign and what motivating goals to present to the user. This allows us to jointly optimize for the short term (getting difficult tasks done) and for the long term (keeping users engaged for longer periods of time). We show that dynamically assigning tasks significantly increases the value of a crowdsourcing system. In an extensive empirical evaluation, we observed that our task allocation strategy increases the amount of information collected by up to 117.8%. We also explore the utility of motivating users with goals. We demonstrate that setting specific, static goals can be highly detrimental to the long-term user participation, as the completion of a goal (e.g., earning a badge) is also a common drop-off point for many users. We show that setting the goals dynamically, in conjunction with judicious allocation of tasks, increases the amount of information collected by the crowdsourcing system by up to 249%, compared to the existing baselines that use fixed objectives.

DOI: 10.1145/2736277.2741681

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Markov decision processes: discrete stochastic dynamic programming, volume 414

  • M L Puterman
  • 2009
Highly Influential
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