When crowdsourcing fails: A study of expertise on crowdsourced design evaluation

Alex Burnap, Yi Ren, Richard Gerth, Giannis Papazoglou, Richard Gonzalez, Panos Y. Papalambros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Crowdsourced evaluation is a promising method of evaluating engineering design attributes that require human input. The challenge is to correctly estimate scores using a massive and diverse crowd, particularly when only a small subset of evaluators has the expertise to give correct evaluations. Since averaging evaluations across all evaluators will result in an inaccurate crowd evaluation, this paper benchmarks a crowd consensus model that aims to identify experts such that their evaluations may be given more weight. Simulation results indicate this crowd consensus model outperforms averaging when it correctly identifies experts in the crowd, under the assumption that only experts have consistent evaluations. However, empirical results from a real human crowd indicate this assumption may not hold even on a simple engineering design evaluation task, as clusters of consistently wrong evaluators are shown to exist along with the cluster of experts. This suggests that both averaging evaluations and a crowd consensus model that relies only on evaluations may not be adequate for engineering design tasks, accordingly calling for further research into methods of finding experts within the crowd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031101
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design - Transactions of the ASME
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Crowd consensus
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Design evaluation
  • Evaluator expertise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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