The next step was to find 100 shops in these 100 locations.
Another question was posted to Zhu Ba Jie to find Taobao stores that sell mats online and post town/city of the seller. Once a store was posted online others could no longer post links to the same store. Using this approach we built up a modest list of 8 stores which were logged in a spreadsheet. We had enough to proceed in parallel with existing tasks but would need to explore new techniques to identify another ~92 physical stores – the final outcome is covered in The Anonymised Reward Task, which we’ll get to in due course.
A challenge of using crowd sourcing sites was in gauging the right level of motivation for people to go and check out a physical store in their neighbourhood – the distance and effort might range from next door through to a bus ride away. There appear to be two main user groups of crowd sourcing sites in China – skilled or professional labour looking to work on large projects, and unskilled labour who participate in many tasks. Especially popular are tui shou (推手, translates to ‘pusher’) who for a small fee will shill products online. Understanding the energy and motivation of the crowd would be critical to placing the right task, with the right reward. We remained open to having to rejig which mats would be purchased from which stores.
Given that we had no assurances that the posts were accurate we then set up a second task to verify their locations (The Verify Shop Location Sub-task) we wanted proof of the name of the owner, their address and a phone number to call. We were comfortable accepting orders from 20 online stores that where we could verify their geographic location – and for finding these store we rewarded 5 RMB, but also wanted to include visits to physical stores for better reach. For the remaining 80 we offered a tiered reward depending on perceived difficulty. Given that some locations are easier to verify than others – we rewarded the verification of the first 65 locations at 10 RMB, the next five received 15 RMB, the penultimate reward was 20 RMB, and the final batch received 30 RMB.
For The Verify Shop Location Subtask contact details were first collated into a spreadsheet and 2 people made separate calls to the store. Of the 46 entries we had at that time 22 were correct – a 48% accuracy/success rate.
To receive the reward for finding a store an order for a mat needed to be placed, within budget i.e. the buyer would need to negotiate the cost of the mat with the seller on our behalf. For the 14 mats that required a customised design the individual was sent a PDF showing the exact dimensions of the customisation. Communication with the sellers was conducted through Ali Wang Wang (阿里旺旺) – the AliPay Instant Messaging platform.
Online stores were paid through Zhifu Bao, initiated by the experiment accountant. For physical stores their bank account details were requested and a deposit was sent. The balance was sent once the mat was sent.
Finally the individual would need to send a mailing tracking number.