An investigation of crowdsourcing, which solves tasks quickly and efficiently by tapping into the skills of large groups, shows that malicious behaviour is the norm among participants, according to scientists.
They found the benefits of crowdsourcing may not outweigh the pitfalls.
A feature of crowdsourcing, its openness of entry, makes it vulnerable to malicious behaviour which has been seen in a number of recent popular crowdsourcing competitions.
The study, reported in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, uses game theory to analyse the trade-off between the potential for increased productivity and the possibility of being set back by malicious behaviour.
Victor Naroditskiy of the University of Southampton and colleagues found that in crowdsourcing competitions malicious behaviour is the norm, not the anomaly.
“Our results emphasize that despite crowdsourcing being a more efficient way of accomplishing many tasks, it is also a less secure approach,” the researchers write.
“In scenarios of ‘competitive’ crowdsourcing, where there is an inherent desire to hurt the opponent, attacks on crowdsourcing strategies are essentially unavoidable.”
And example used in the research was the DARPA Network Challenge (sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) which suffered severe sabotage in the exercise.
The DARPA Network Challenge eventually found the locations of 10 balloons after spending significant effort filtering false submissions, including fabricated pictures containing individuals in disguise impersonating DARPA officials.
A team from the University of California at San Diego lost its lead in the challenge after its progress was wiped out by a relentless number of coordinated overnight attacks.
The team which topped a US Department of State sponsored Tag Challenge had to withstand a smear campaign orchestrated in Twitter aimed at reducing its credibility.
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