Using Mechanism Design to Prevent False-Name Manipulations

Vincent Conitzer, Makoto Yokoo


The basic notion of false-name-proofness allows for useful mechanisms under certain circumstances, but in general there are impossibility results that show that false-name-proof mechanisms have severe limitations. One may react to these impossibility results by saying that, since false-name-proof mechanisms are unsatisfactory, we should not run any important mechanisms in highly anonymous settings—unless, perhaps, we can find some methodology that directly prevents false-name manipulation even in such settings, so that we are back in a more typical mechanism design context. However, it seems unlikely that the phenomenon of false-name manipulation will disappear anytime soon. Because the Internet is so attractive as a platform for running certain types of mechanisms, it seems unlikely that the organizations running these mechanisms will take them offline. Moreover, because a goal of these organizations is often to get as many users to participate as possible, they will be reluctant to use high-overhead solutions that discourage users from participating. As a result, perhaps the most promising approaches at this point are those that combine techniques from mechanism design with other techniques discussed in this article. It appears that this is a rich domain for new, creative approaches that can have significant practical impact.

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