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Considering human aspects on strategies for designing and managing distributed human computation

  • Ponciano, Lesandro1
  • Brasileiro, Francisco1
  • Andrade, Nazareno1
  • Sampaio, Lívia1
  • 1 Federal University of Campina Grande, Department of Computing and Systems, Av. Aprígio Veloso, 882 – Bloco CO, Campina Grande, PB, 58.429-900, Brazil , Campina Grande (Brazil)
Published Article
Journal of Internet Services and Applications
Springer London
Publication Date
Aug 29, 2014
DOI: 10.1186/s13174-014-0010-4
Springer Nature


A human computation system can be viewed as a distributed system in which the processors are humans, called workers. Such systems harness the cognitive power of a group of workers connected to the Internet to execute relatively simple tasks, whose solutions, once grouped, solve a problem that systems equipped with only machines could not solve satisfactorily. Examples of such systems are Amazon Mechanical Turk and the Zooniverse platform. A human computation application comprises a group of tasks, each of them can be performed by one worker. Tasks might have dependencies among each other. In this study, we propose a theoretical framework to analyze such type of application from a distributed systems point of view. Our framework is established on three dimensions that represent different perspectives in which human computation applications can be approached: quality-of-service requirements, design and management strategies, and human aspects. By using this framework, we review human computation in the perspective of programmers seeking to improve the design of human computation applications and managers seeking to increase the effectiveness of human computation infrastructures in running such applications. In doing so, besides integrating and organizing what has been done in this direction, we also put into perspective the fact that the human aspects of the workers in such systems introduce new challenges in terms of, for example, task assignment, dependency management, and fault prevention and tolerance. We discuss how they are related to distributed systems and other areas of knowledge.

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