“Many hands make light work.” “It takes a village to raise a child.” What do these two proverbs have in common? Who would have thought that these two familiar phrases, coined decades ago, are evidence of ancient crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing, though perhaps not so new as everyone thinks, has suddenly come into vogue. It is such a fresh term, that it will not be found in a formal dictionary. However, ‘Wikipedia’ defines the term in this manner;
“…the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a crowd) through an open call.”
What is new to the very basic nature of crowdsourcing is that it is driven and popularized by technology. Additionally, persons and businesses are finding that it is less expensive to crowdsource than to hire in house for certain types of performance. Every website owner and affiliate marketer should understand the the concepts of crowdsourcing and look to use crowdsourcing portals to help drive down costs
Technology has fueled corporate use of crowdsourcing through on-line communities. Corporations relay a problem to be solved to the masses, and the ‘crowd’ to which the problem was transmitted, having instant access, gets to work at implementing a solution. Think about it; this brings a whole new meaning to group assignments. All those individuals, amateurs and professionals alike, are working toward one business solution.
It is feasible, that the number of persons within the ‘crowd’ even outnumber the persons employed by the business. This provides splendid and tremendous opportunities to the small business owner. Of course small businesses are not the only ones who benefit from crowdsourcing. Large corporations can increase profit by diminishing economic output. There is no rule which states businesses must compensate the problem solver. In fact, sometimes in lieu of payment, businesses offer other perks; free gifts, trips and attractive incentives.
Another characteristic to which technology has assisted crowdsourcing is through globalization. Let’s face it; the world is a much smaller place today because of technology. While outsourcing to other countries is often less expensive for American companies, there is still cost involved. Crowdsourcing, however, casts a large net globally, and as previously mentioned, is of little or no cost. Also, the disparity between ‘amateurs and professionals’ is shrinking due to the use of technology and crowdsourcing. It is just as likely, through crowdsourcing, that a non professional will provide a solution to the proposed problem.
‘Wired Magazine’, published an article in 2006, by Jeff Howe, who is attributed with first using the compound word, ‘crowdsourcing’. Since, “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, was published; the word and practice have come under a certain amount of criticism. Critics state possible negative results for businesses which make use of the practice. Perhaps topping the list is the possibility that corporations will take advantage of the individuals seeking to provide solutions. This is due to the fact that there are no written contracts. Of course businesses are also plagued by the same negative possibility. There is a risk of the non-contracted worker(s) losing interest in the project. Working via the Internet provides a certain amount of anonymity for the ‘crowd’ which could pose a problem. Corporations and individuals who take advantage of the opportunities presented by crowdsourcing have to make the decision based on calculated risks.