November 07, 2017

German Crowdsourcing Firms Create Ombuds Program

Lead by Testbirds, eight German internet companies have signed a joint agreement to protect workers and volunteers that contribute to their products.  The "Crowdsourcing Code of Conduct" also establishes and funds an Ombuds Office for conflict resolution.  According to the document, "The Ombuds Office mediates disputes that arise between workers and platforms that are signatories to the Code of Conduct. The Ombuds Office will mediate a dispute only after the parties have attempted to resolve the situation on their own (outside of the legal system)."

"The founding of the Ombuds Office is a signal towards our crowd workers: We are willing to be measured against our promises and actively support fair collaboration," says Philipp Benkler, Founder and Managing Director of Testbirds. "As initiators of the Code of Conduct we intensively work on its further development, for example with the founding of the Ombuds Office. Furthermore we are an active member of the institution."

To ensure independence, five people make up the Ombuds Office: a neutral Chair; a representative of the German Crowdsourcing Association (Deutscher Crowdsourcing Verband e.V.); a representative of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) or one of its member unions; a representative from one of the platforms that has signed the Code of Conduct; and a worker that is registered on one of the platforms that has signed the Code of Conduct. The initial staff of the Ombuds Office includes: Dr. Silke Kohlschitter, judge at the labour court of Frankfurt and chairwoman of the Ombuds Office; Robert Fuß, IG Metall board; Susanne Reichert, Testbirds, representative for the Crowd working platforms (substituted by Dr. Arne-Christian Sigge,, if a complaint against Testbirds is submitted); Thomas Andersen, German Crowdsourcing Association; and Olaf Hoffmann, representative for the crowd workers.

The companies that have signed the Crowdsourcing Code of Conduct so far are: AppJobber; BugFinders; clickworker;; Crowd Guru; ShopScout; Streetspotr; and Testbirds. All have apps that are built on crowdwork. The Crowdsourcing Project of the German Metalworkers’ Union, IG Metall, gave the group input during the production of the second version of the Code.

The service is free and confidential, although the parties are provided with a written summary of the mediation process.  The Ombuds Office will also publish and annual report with aggregated information. (Press ReleaseCroudsourcing Code of ConductCrowdsourcing Code of Conduct - Ombuds Office - Rules

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