Ethical Tensions, Norms, and Directions in the Extraction of Online Volunteer Work

Computer Supported Cooperative Work(2022)

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ABSTRACT Online volunteer work such as moderating forums and participating in open source projects not only underpins today’s digital infrastructures, but also helps companies generate immense profits. However, there remains a lack of ethical norms around using volunteer labor for corporate interests, opening opportunities for unchecked extraction of online volunteer work at scale. Early evidence suggests that the extraction of online volunteer work may have negative implications on the tech ecosystem and obfuscate the potential for exploitative labor practices. In this workshop, we invite participants to discuss 1) what ethical tensions exist in the current approaches to extracting online volunteer work, 2) what ethical norms should be followed or recommended and 3) what are the opportunities for social computing technologies to promote these norms. Furthermore, we open a dialogue around whether online platforms should be providing non-monetary compensation, such as education and resources, that is often promised in in-person volunteer settings. We plan to involve a diversity of roles beyond academic researchers, such as online volunteers and practitioners to discuss these questions.
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