Exploitation of the Crowd?

While discussing crowdsourcing with friends here in Belgium, the issue of  how moral it is to hire people for less money than a local worker would charge,  has been risen.  Belgium is a very socialist minded country, and I will give you an example of what I’m talking about:

For the TaxMan, if you ask your friends to help you painting your house, you should declare the VAT for their work.  That is , tax authorities think that all work has a market value,  and thus should be taxed.

Would it be moral to pay less than a local worker, if that less is the usual pay in the worker’s country?

And what if you coud not have paid any local worker (so no local work could have been generated)?

And what about morality when you don’t pay at all the crowd? You may just gratify the worker with recognition or not even that, counting on his personal satisfaction of knowing what he did.  That would question any volonteer job, as the religious crowds…

Joe McKendrick explores this question from Zittrain:

Is corporate social media ethical? Is there a “Tom Sawyer syndrome” at work in which people are suckered into doing work thinking that it’s something to be enjoyed?

Those are the provocative questions raised by Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, at the recent South by Southwest Interactive confab. His argument: a key value proposition of social networking is crowdsourcing, in which an actively engaged community contributes new ideas for innovation, or even does some piecework, for little or no compensation. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Zittrain argues that these may be morally questionable ventures.

Read the full article Is There an Ethical Quandary to Corporate Social Networking and Crowdsourcing?

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