Crowdsourcing, the practice of obtaining services, ideas, or content from a large often self defined group, has gained a lot of attention recently, as a way to organize anything from innovation processes to crisis management:  Private companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are utilizing crowdsourcing technologies to collect multiple solutions [26], and distributed pieces of work to crowds of workers [20]. Citizens are engaged in a more participatory and open government [14], such as collaborative policymaking [2], and participatory budgeting [18]. Governments are using wiki-technologies to enhance collective intelligence [4], and source government information [12]. Citizen science engages the public to collect or improve research data [5, 19, 20, 11, 32], and to participate in analysis [6,7,2]. Recent natural catastrophes have raised an interest in involving crowds of civilians in data sourcing [15, 23, 31] as well as performing physical activities during crisis situations [21].

The development of new types of working relationships has also been problematized for several reasons. For example, Irani and Silberman [16] have questioned crowdworker dynamics from a labor rights perspective, leading to calls for collective action by crowd workers [27]. Martin et. al’s [22] analysis of the online discussion in the community of workers at the Mechanical Turk, shows the tensions between the dividing logic of the system and the information-sharing processes in the community. Gupta et. al’s [13] study of Indian workers shows how English and computer literacy, as well as availability of technological resources, are taken for granted by platform designers and users, and can amount to workers losing out on work or creating a bad reputation for themselves. Other conflicts suggested by the research subjects concern rejected work, slow or unfair payments, lack of transparency and technical problems [30]. Especially the wage is a conflict area among “web workers”[3]. Some design research also suggests means to empower crowdworkers and make them more visible [17].

Digital differentiation and inequalities within the crowd becomes problematic when crowdsourcing is used for democratic purposes [14]. Studies of Amazon Mechanical Turk [11], Wikipedia [25] and Twitter [9] indicate a lack of representativeness in terms of age, gender and education. According to Menking and Erikson [24], women face marked obstacles to effective participation in Wikipedia. Cultural geographers have also pointed out the hegemonic discourses and socio-spatial relations in the geographic web [8, 31, 28, 33].

Research on conflicts within groups online tend to focus on communities like in open source development [10], professional groups, or learning processes [1]. However, there is a need of more empirical research on the conflicts and dynamics within the more fluid work relations in crowd work.

This workshop aims to bring together researchers from different disciplines in an effort to critically explore the conflicts and tensions in the field of crowd-work. These can for example be about;

  • The negotiation of order that take place in the social interaction in the crowd setting, like conflicts between informal group interactions within the crowdsourcing initiative and the technical roles afforded by the platform.
  • The performance of identity over distributed contexts and cultures, for example how new types of labor roles are enacted in self presentations and communication practices.
  • The symbolic representation of places and identities, like the unequal representation of place in geo-mapping contexts.
  • It can also be about conflicts due to segregation, where the crowd work is undermining established work divisions and creating new ones, e.g. [16].

We invite both empirical and theoretical work, position papers and works in progress. We encourage a mix of methods and theoretical frameworks in examining aspects of conflicts and contradictions in crowdsourcing contexts from different perspectives. In this one-day workshop we will explore the topics in interactive mini-flash presentations and brainstorming sessions. The workshop will result in a research agenda, in which we, as a part of the CHI community, present a framework for addressing these questions.

The workshop builds on four earlier successful workshops: “Back to the Future of Organizational Work: Crowdsourcing Digital Work Marketplaces” and “Structures for Knowledge Co-creation between Organizations and the Public” hosted at ACM CSCW 2014, “The Morphing Organization – Rethinking Groupwork Systems in the Era of Crowdwork” hosted at ACM GROUP 2014, and “Examining the Essence of the Crowds: Motivations, Roles and Identities” at ECSCW 2015.


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  2. Tanja Aitamurto and Hélène Landemore. 2015. Five design principles for crowdsourced policymaking: Assessing the case of crowdsourced off-­road traffic law in Finland. Journal of Social Media for Organizations 2(1).
  3. Ben B. Bederson and Alexander J. Quinn. 2011. Web Workers Unite ! Addressing Challenges of Online Laborers. Human Factors, 97–105.
  4. Eli Ben and  Jim Hutchins. 2010. Intelligence after Intellipedia : Improving the push pull balance with a social networking utility. Research Report in Information Science. Technology Directoratet. Defense Technical Information Center, February 2010.
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  7. Seth Cooper, Firas Khatib, Ilya Makedon, Hao Lu, Janos Barbero, David Baker, James Fogarty, Zoran Popović, and Foldit players. 2011. Analysis of social gameplay macros in the Foldit cookbook. FDG 2011, 9-14.
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  18. Jyldyz Kasymova. 2013. Reforming local government in developing countries: Implementation of a participatory budgeting process in Kyrgyzstan. The State University of New Jersey.
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  20. Aniket Kittur,  Jeffrey V. Nickerson, Michael Bernstein, Elizabeth Gerber, Aaron Shaw, John Zimmerman, Matt Lease, and John Horton. 2013. The future of crowd work. Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM, 2013.
  21. Thomas Ludwig, Christian Reuter, Tim Siebigteroth, and Volkmar Pipek. 2015. CrowdMonitor: Mobile Crowd Sensing for Assessing Physical and Digital Activities of Citizens during Emergencies. In: Proceedings of the 33th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’15), Seoul, South Korea, ACM-Press.
  22. David Martin, Benjamin V. Hanrahan, Jackie O’Neill, & Neha Gupta. 2014. Being a turker. Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing – CSCW ’14, 224–235.
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  24. Amanda Menking and Ingrid Erickson. 2015. The heartwork of Wikipedia: Gendered, emotional labor in the world’s largest online encyclopedia. Proc CHI 2015, 207-210.
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  28. Taylor Shelton, Ate Poorthuis, Mark Graham, & Matthew Zook. 2014. Mapping the data shadows of hurricane Sandy: Uncovering the sociospatial dimensions of “ Big Data .” Geoforum, Forthcoming.
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