What is Crowdsourcing?

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According to The New York Times “Crowds are a hit. Millions of people, connected by the Internet, are contributing ideas and information to projects big and small. Crowdsourcing, as it is called, is helping to solve tricky problems and providing localized information. And with the right knowledge, contributing to the crowd — and using its wisdom — is easier than ever.” Crowdsourcing is a process of engaging a group of people (or crowd) for a shared goal. Crowdsourcing can take place on many different levels and across various industries. Wikipedia is a good example of crowdsourcing. Wikipedia gave the crowd the responsibility to create the information on their own instead of going through the tedious process of hiring and training writers, etc.

There are many advantages of crowdsourcing. In fact, every business that uses crowdsourcing will list its own set of benefits. Crowdsourcing means you are dealing with a crowd of people and that is an advantage in itself as you get a flood of ides to chose from. People are ever ready to share their ideas and knowledge. One just has to chose the best option out of so many available. Crowdsourcing saves research and development costs of a company to some extent. Easy access is available to various skills, finding which can otherwise be a tedious task with traditional methods. Since we are dealing with a crowd, it takes less time to find the right person to do the task. Crowdsourcing saves major costs involved in hiring and training of employees and for a project. The cost to maintain a dedicated employee is saved to some extent. Crowdsourcing increases productivity and at the same time keeps labor costs under control.

Crowdsourcing has a few disadvantages as well. And most of the disadvantages are due to the fact that there is a large crowd to deal with. To begin with, there is a big risk of false information. Many a times there is no authenticity of source from where the information is taken. The source of information may also not be known. It is not easy to tell if the information presented is reliable or not. And the end result could be extra cost dues to false and unreliable information. It will also be difficult to find out who did the work originally. There are no copyright rules as such. While getting a work done through crowdsourcing, one has to be very careful while giving instructions regarding work requirements. Different people may take the instructions in different ways and hence the output will also vary. At times one may not get the desired output from the crowdsourced project. At times it is difficult to judge the quality of the project as there is ambiguity regarding the authenticity of data and other information provided in the project.

“Crowd” which is the dominating attribute of crowdsourcing gives many benefits but at the same time poses some threats as well. So it’s a challenge for organizations using crowdsourcing to strike such a balance between opportunities and threats provided by it so as to derive expected benefits.


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