To Volunteer or to Contribute Locational Information? Towards Truth in Labeling for Crowdsourced Geographic Information

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This 2013 article focuses on crowdsourcing volunteered geographic information. The article asks the question, is “volunteered” the right adjective to use for all types of crowd-sourced geographic information? The author examines this question by making the following distinction along an ethical line for the crowd-sourced collection of data: geographical data collected following an “opt in” agreement is volunteered (VGI), while geographical data collected under an “opt out” provision in contrast is contributed (CGI). The author argues that opt-in agreements provide clarity and control in the collection of data and intended reuse of said data, while opt-out agreements in comparison are very open-ended and begin with few, if any, possibilities to control data collection. This article is a chapter in the book Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge: Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in Theory and Practice, which is also available in this portal.

This article will be of particular use to PVE researchers and practitioners interested in exploring ethical considerations and potential biases related to the collection of crowd-sourced geographical data. The chapter suggests that distinguishing between “contributed” crowd-sourced data from “volunteered data is an important starting point for understanding the nature of sources of crowd-sourced data of any provenance, and is necessary to help begin to identify possible biases. The author argues that making the simple distinction between CGI and VGI is valuable when making assessments of collected data’s fitness for use. 

Full article is available here >>

Francis Harvey

June 2012