Fair compensation of crowdsourcing work: The problem of flat rates

Joni Salminen, Ahmed Mohamed Sayed Kamel, Soon-Gyo Jung, Mekhail Mustak, Bernard J. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Compensating crowdworkers for their research participation often entails paying a flat rate to all participants, regardless of the amount of time they spend on the task or skill level. If the actual time required varies considerably between workers, flat rates may yield unfair compensation. To study this matter, we analyzed three survey studies with varying complexity. Based on the United Kingdom minimum wage and actual task completion times, we found that more than 3 in 4 (76.5%) of the crowdworkers studied were paid more than the intended hourly wage, and around one in four (23.5%) was paid less than the intended hourly wage when using a flat rate compensation model based on estimated completion time. The results indicate that the popular flat rate model falls short as a form of equitable remuneration, when perceiving fairness in the form of compensating one’s time. Flat rate compensation would not be problematic if the workers’ completion times were similar, but this is not the case in reality, as skills and motivation can vary. To overcome this problem, the study proposes three alternative compensation models: Compensation by Normal Distribution, Multi-Objective Fairness, and Post-Hoc Bonuses.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalBehaviour & Information Technology
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • 512 Business and Management
  • crowdsourcing
  • online data collection
  • fairness
  • compensation
  • research ethics


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