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AbstractCrowdsourcing is now widely used to replace judgement by an expert authority with an aggregate evaluation from a number of non-experts, in applications ranging from rating and categorizing online content to evaluation of student assignments in massively open online courses via peer grading. A key issue in these settings, where direct monitoring is infeasible, is incentivizing agents in the `crowd' to put in effort to make good evaluations, as well as to truthfully report their evaluations. This leads to a new family of information elicitation problems with unobservable ground truth, where an agent's proficiency- the probability with which she correctly evaluates the underlying ground truth- is endogenously determined by her strategic choice of how much effort to put into the task. Our main contribution is a simple, new, mechanism for binary information elicitation for multiple tasks when agents have endogenous proficiencies, with the following properties: (i) Exerting maximum effort followed by truthful reporting of observations is a Nash equilibrium. (ii) This is the equilibrium with maximum payoff to all agents, even when agents have different maximum proficiencies, can use mixed strategies, and can choose a different strategy for each of their tasks. Our information elicitation mechanism requires only minimal bounds on the priors, asks agents to only report their own evaluations, and does not require any conditions on a diverging number of agent reports per task to achieve its incentive properties. The main idea behind our mechanism is to use the presence of multiple tasks and ratings to identify and penalize low-effort agreement: the mechanism rewards agents for agreeing with a `reference' rater on a task but also penalizes for blind agreement by subtracting out a statistic term designed so that agents obtain reward only when they put effort into their observations.
Comment: To appear in WWW 2013