Plebeian Bias: Selecting Crowdsourced Creative Designs for Commercialization
22 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 18, 2017
We identify a new phenomenon – “Plebeian bias” – in the crowdsourcing of creative designs. Stardom, an emphasis on established individuals, has long been observed in many offline contexts. Does this phenomenon carry over to online communities? We investigate a large-scale dataset tracking all submissions, community votes on submissions, and revenues from commercialized submissions on a popular crowdsourcing portal, Threadless.com. In contrast to stardom, we find that the portal selects designs from “Plebeians” (i.e. users without an established fan base and track record) over “Stars” (i.e. users with an established fan base and track record). The tendency is revenue and profit sub-optimal. The evidence is consistent with incentives for the portal to demonstrate procedural fairness to the online community.
Keywords: Crowdsourcing, Stardom, Procedural Fairness, Managerial Conservatism
JEL Classification: E24, E26, L26, M30, M51, M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation