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Crowded: Digital Piecework and the Politics of Platform Responsibility in Precarious Times

We are researchers at Microsoft Research studying how people do small tasks, posted online, in exchange for an amount of money (or glory). Doing these tasks is often called "crowdsourcing." Thank you for volunteering to contribute to this research project by telling us about your experiences with the services that make these tasks available. We hope that this research will lead to a better understanding of the people who participate in crowdsourcing and better crowdsourcing services. PLEASE: DO NOT SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SURVEY (email Mary at and she can tell you why)!

  • The research project will consist of a survey asking you about your background and use of crowdsourcing platforms.
  • The survey contains approximately 80 very brief questions (such as multiple choice, yes/no, choose from a list).
  • There are no "right" answers in the survey below. We do not include any deceptive questions.
  • If you skip a question on any page, you will receive a friendly note, before you leave the page, telling you that you might have missed a question. We put the note there so that you would not accidentally miss your bonus! Apologies if it is annoying. : (
  • You will receive a bonus payment of $1.00 USD if you answer all the questions presented to you (and there are more chances to earn money after you finish this survey).
  • We will share what we learn with you (if you want us to).
  • Participating in the research will not benefit you directly, beyond getting paid for your answers, but it may help make crowdsourcing better for others.
  • You must be over 18 years old or have your parents' permission to participate in this study.
  • You have no obligation to participate and you may decide to stop taking the survey at any time.
  • Please also note that the researchers have the right to withdraw you from the project at any time.

Below is a description of the research project, and your consent to participate. You are asked to read this information carefully. If you agree to participate, you will have to enter your initials in the space provided at the bottom of the consent form on the survey to indicate that you have read and understood the information.

The legal stuff

What will you do with my responses?
We will ask you for information, such as your age and gender. The information collected during this project (including, but not limited to, the survey responses as well as IP addresses and timestamps associated with the surveys) will be used for research only. Information that you provide will not be shared outside of Microsoft Research without your permission. All responses will be treated confidentially and any identifying information will be deleted at the end of this project.

What am I agreeing to when I agree to participate?
You give your permission to the researchers to record or otherwise document and collect information about your participation in this research project in any format and medium ("Data"). The researchers and Microsoft Research shall own all Data in connection with the research project. You may also provide suggestions, comments or other feedback ("Feedback") to Microsoft Research with respect to the research project. Feedback is entirely voluntary, and Microsoft Research shall be free to use, disclose, reproduce, license, or otherwise distribute, and exploit the Feedback and Data, but will never disclose information that reveals your personal identity.

What does agreeing to "participate" mean, legally?
You represent that (a) you have the full right and authority to sign this form, (b) you are not a minor (unless your legal guardian signs this form below), (c) the rights you grant to Microsoft under this form will not be limited by any other contract or obligation, including any agreement with any union or guild, and (d) you will not disclose to Microsoft any non-public information, either yours or a third party's, without notifying Microsoft in advance. In addition, you agree to release Microsoft and its affiliates from any and all claims that you may have now or in the future related to your participation in this research project. Whether or not a gratuity is provided, you acknowledge that you will receive consideration for participating in this research project, and that Microsoft will spend time and incur costs relying on your consent to this form.

If you have any questions about participating in this study, please feel free to ask at any time – before, during, or after the survey. You should also know that the study has been reviewed and approved by the Microsoft Research Ethics Advisory Board.