Milestone 7 RATH Systemic Democracy

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Systemic democracy on online crowd marketplaces


Current online crowd marketplaces are closed systems where workers and requesters are not involved in the development process. Currently, regulations and participation agreement are changed by the owner of the platform only and without prior notification or approval of other parties. Additionally statistics and transactions data are not shared openly.

This paper presents an alternative governance system, we call it systemic democracy. The system is built on three values: openness, self-governance and continuous evolution. These values are implemented through sharing all performance and statistics reports of the platform. Through open innovation, workers and requesters can propose modifications and new regulations and vote on them. We discuss and evaluate this system and the challenges of implementing it and what steps are needed to address them.


Open innovation has become a development model to many projects and companies. The core idea is users of the system i.e workers and requestors are more aware of the needs and problems of the market. Well informed users, through forums and access to the platform’s statistics and reports, are in the optimal position to contribute meaningfully to the development and design of the platform than group of external developers in the current closed systems. Also of note, is that these design and development concepts will serve always the the interest of the users rather than the founder of the platform

Related Work

Turkportion is an online activism platform for Amazon mturk’s workers. The platform is created to make worker-employer relations visible and to provoke ethical and political debate. The platform was very successful to address the challenge of making the relationship betwen workers and requestors more clear, but it only dealt with workers side. The crowd has been mobilized into a collective, however, this collective has no input into the infrastructure that they had no control over. We argue that both workers and requestors should be have direct control over the platform itself through the systemic democracy and not only be relegated to advocacy.


Instead of thrusting a complex administrative model of governance on a crowdsource marketplace, the motivation is to keep governance simple. By encouraging symmetrical access to information, workers and requesters alike can formalize decisions not just on performance but on governance. Keeping it simple allows for transformation and evolution to occur as needs of information and governance exert themselves on the system.


The system is based on four elements :

  1. Free flow of information: Workers and requestors will have access to statistics and reports such as the number and types of HITs, worker and requestor data, transactions, rejection rate, speed of payment, disputes, feedbacks and comments of the platform’s design, speed of payment. Only raw data to be used to avoid any kind of manipulation, or leading the development in one direction.
  2. Proposal and Modifications, any registered worker or requestor can submit a proposal to modify, add new feature, change a regulation, etc, proposal to be submitted for voting.
  3. Forums : Proposals are submitted to the public forum this step is mandatory to inform the voters and to reveal the collective intelligence of the participants and allow for a better proposal before final voting.
  4. Voting : Workers and Requestors who completed one year have the right to propose and vote. voters will choose either YES/NO.

Of note: This is not meant to be a representative democracy. It is meant to be a bureaucracy free mechanism for meaningful development, engagement and iteration.


The system will be evaluated based on many criteria:

  1. Number of ideas generated
  2. Satisfaction of the users
  3. Amount of transactions
  4. Number of issues resolved.

These metrics will reveal the level of openness and self-governance of the platform.


  • Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation: A Study of Amazon Mechanical Turk and Apple iOS , Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn Social Informatics, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden and Debra Howcroft,
  • Manchester Business School - Behind the enemy lines, Panos Ipeirotis
  • Turkoption : Interrupting workers invisibility in Amazon Mech turk. Liliy C irani and M six Silberman
  • Amazon Mech turk Participation policy
  • Odesk User agreement