There is a 63% Chance that I am a Male

As part of my research on work in cyberspace, in virtual worlds, and through crowdsourcing websites (a phenomena I term “virtual work”), I’ve been visiting a number of websites that are likely to have a significant impact on the nature of work and business in the future.

Some of these (like Elance or Guru) resemble job boards, an online version of the “hiring halls” of the old days.  Others, like Innocentive, are like high-level contests for ideas.  But these sites not only match employers with workers, they also tout themselves as performing screening functions for various skills.

Other of these websites are a significant departure – they’re really fun. Tasks that many would find boring and repetitive are turned into “games,” where users compete to solve problems or make art designs that the customer will like. And I’ve been spending some time “playing” some games on a website called “Games With a Purpose.” According to GWAP’s website, “when you play a game, you aren’t just having fun. You’re helping the world become a better place.”

First I did a game that had me typing some words that people were saying (I think that the purpose is to help with developing speech recognition software), and then I played a “gender guesser” game that asked me to choose which photo I liked better.  At the end of the ten pictures, I was told that there was a 63% chance that I am male.

I love hiking, the mountains, and the outdoors, and so when presented with a picture of pretty much anything and a mountain to climb, I am going to choose the mountain. I did notice that there seemed to be a lot sports pictures and pictures of babies (again, I kept choosing landscapes), and so I wonder what the result would have been if I were trying to skew the results one way or another?

I’m still not sure what the purpose of the game was, though.  It was called a “gender guesser” and at the end the percentage related to gender differences, but I don’t know what the experiment was going to be used for. It would have been good to know. Since I wasn’t being compensated to play the game, and it was a donation of my time, there are probably some things that I wouldn’t wish to participate in (for free anyway).  At least I learned an interesting (if untrue) piece of information about myself.

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