Mechanisms for Making Crowds Truthful

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We consider schemes for obtaining truthful reports on a common but hidden signal from large groups of rational, self-interested agents. One example are online feedback mechanisms, where users provide observations about the quality of a product or service so that other users can have an accurate idea of what quality they can expect. However, (i) providing such feedback is costly, and (ii) there are many motivations for providing incorrect feedback.

Both problems can be addressed by reward schemes which (i) cover the cost of obtaining and reporting feedback, and (ii) maximize the expected reward of a rational agent who reports truthfully. We address the design of such incentive-compatible rewards for feedback generated in environments with pure adverse selection. Here, the correlation between the true knowledge of an agent and her beliefs regarding the likelihoods of reports of other agents can be exploited to make honest reporting a Nash equilibrium.

In this paper we extend existing methods for designing incentive-compatible rewards by also considering collusion. We analyze different scenarios, where, for example, some or all of the agents collude. For each scenario we investigate whether a collusion-resistant, incentive-compatible reward scheme exists, and use automated mechanism design to specify an algorithm for deriving an efficient reward mechanism.

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