BOINC: Why you should care about the credit-system

BOINC logoThe probably heaviest request from users during the last BOINC user-survey was definitively “Introduce a more fair credit-system”. It’s still kind of frustrating that some projects hand out lots of credits per CPU-hour where others are more close-fisted with their credits. And there’s also the issue that we have “calibrating” BOINC-clients which sail around the known credit-issues and manipulate the claimed credits for a work-unit.

Some people consider this cheating, others claim that this is self-defence – their argument is “why should we get less credit in total even if we crunch more data per day?”

Both have a point, so some projects finally decided to go away from the naïve BOINC credit-scheme (which is based on the internal benchmarking algorithm) and create their own, CPU-hour based scheme.

For instance, Einstein@home recently “tuned” their credit-calibration (1) again to be more fair – silently – which caused an outcry from some people because they’ll issue less credits in general now. Rosetta@Home introduced a new credit-mechanism as well, but is more transparent (transparency is the major pro for Rosetta@Home anyway).

Why would someone who’s into science care about the credit-system anyway? There’re several reasons: Motivation and individual success is the absolute base for public voluntary distributed computing, something which some people out there didn’t understand yet. If you want to build up and maintain a large user base you need to give them incentives. Credits, public blessings, and – important – constant reports about the project’s success which show more than just how many percent of the project is already done like RC5 does. (OK, i have to admit, there isn’t much to report in the RC5-project, but you get my point, don’t you?)

And that’s the reason why you have to care about how many credits you issue and how you discuss the credit-issue in public – never underestimate the so-dubbed “credit-whores” – they’re your user-base and might wander of to projects which hand you more credits. If you’ve lost a user you’ll never get him back – most probably.

Be opportunistic and go for the high-performers even if they’re just after the credits. Be nice to your users and give them real reports every couple of weeks. Participate in the fori and give your users feedback. If possible, organize parties to meet your users (no one ever said anything about that you should pay). Optimize your science-application and be as fair as possible with the credits. Take rants and criticism serious. If people start optimizing your science-application: Embrace the changes and let them take part in the validation-process.

Remember: Even if tuning your science-application to be as efficient as possible takes a lot of effort, remember: Your users will thank you because they can crunch more data and you push your project onto a new level.

Corrections:

(1)
Bernd Machenschalk from the Einstein@Home-project correctly pointed out that they did not change the credit-system but only the calibration of the system they’ve introduced with the S5-run.

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One Response to BOINC: Why you should care about the credit-system

  1. Hans Keesom says:

    I understand that there are people who just want as many points as possible.
    At the same time, me, I dont care. My 64 bit 3000 mhz server is running vmware but why not have it do some extra tasks. Oke, maybe some parts will wear out a bit earlier. Other than that, I really dont care about the points. I even didnt care much about the projects that are running, I just had gridrepublic load a few to my machine and now I want to forget about it al together. Giving away to a good cause is not about scoring points, not for me that is.

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