Synchronous Online Experiments Workshop
The experimental method is the most powerful tool to unveil causal
mechanisms in human behavior. Over the past fifty years, experimental
research in economics, sociology and psychology have been mainly conducted
in university labs, with a restricted subject pool, and a limited number
of participants per treatment. However, the rapid development of
Internet-related technologies makes now possible to break up such
traditional limitations. Scaling up social science research to the
Internet level is now at reach, and an increasing number of social
scientists is making use of online experiments to study group
In this workshop, participants will learn how to set up a simple
synchronous online experiment using the open-source
tool nodeGame. NodeGame
allows one to run experiments with large groups for a long periods of
time, permitting the observation of the formation of macro-patterns of
behavior from the interaction of a large number of individuals.
Before being introduced to the software, participants—who are expected to
share an heterogeneous background—will receive a quick overview of the
experimental method in the social science, and will be presented a
selected a set of classic and modern experiments, executed both in the lab
and online. While presenting these experiments, special attention will be
given to connections with the nodeGame platform.
By the end of the workshop, participants will: (i) have a basic
understanding of social experiments; (ii) be aware of the strengths and
weaknesses of the nodeGame platform; (ii) be able to deploy a simple
experiment with nodeGame.
The format will be adjusted depending on the actual number of
participants, and their background (e.g., more social scientists vs more
computer scientists). Tentatively, the workshop will be divided in two
main modules: theory + application.
Module 1: Theory (30-45m)
In this module, participants will get familiar with the experimental
method, the differences between lab and online experiments.
Keywords: history, designs, randomization, stratiﬁcation,
validity, labs, games, WEIRD, examples, challenges, dropouts, recruiting,
Module 2: Application (2h 15-30min)
language, and learn how to implement their own online experiment with the
nodeGame platform. The following submodules will be taught:
Hands-on Session with nodeGame
Install and run the nodeGame platform, get familiar with the interface,
understanding how to get help, how to add and modify games and settings,
play an online experiments together.
Realize Your Own Game (Optional)
More advanced participants who wish to develop their own game can be
assisted to pursue their particular goals.
Most of the technical material can be found on the
Slides deck of the workshop.
There are no strict pre-requirements, however prior knowledge of computer
programming will be helpful. The FAQ page does a pretty good job at explaining what to
Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops to run code
examples, join online games and program their own experiments.