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Workflow Transparency in a Microtask Marketplace

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Association for Computing Machinery


Interdependent tasks in Mechanical Turk (MTurk) can be managed efficiently with a workflow, a sequence of tasks through which work passes to its completion. We ask if workers should be informed about the workflow, which we call workflow transparency. Transparency could motivate workers or induce social loafing. We describe three experiments to determine the effects of workflow transparency in MTurk. We compared a text description of the workflow, a visualization of the workflow, and the combination of text and visualization with a control condition giving no workflow information. Workflow transparency marginally increased volunteerism on a charity identification task (experiment 1) and significantly increased volunteerism and quality on a business identification task (experiment 2). Results were weaker with a less experienced worker sample (experiment 3). We suggest further research on the design of workflow information to increase workers' motivation.


Kinnaird, Peter; Dabbish, Laura; Kiesler, Sara (2012): Workflow Transparency in a Microtask Marketplace. Proceedings of the 2012 ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work. DOI: 10.1145/2389176.2389219. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 281–284. Sanibel Island, Florida, USA