Crowdsourcing 101

Contributor: Tech Mistress is not a so young ‘eccentric’, tech loving lady. She likes to share information in funny and witty ways, to inform but yet motivate. You can follow her on twitter – @AbiikeBlogger, and check out her blog – Mumuocrats.


Crowdsourcing is a term coined by Jeff Howe in a Wired magazine 2006 article titled THE RISE OF CROWDSOURCING. He only coined the term for it. Crowdsourcing had been in existence before then, it became popular with businesses, authors, journalists and developers.

What exactly is Crowdsourcing?
It simply means sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people, community or a crowd through an open call. This is a different tact, from stack overflow, Twitter or Facebook which do not have any open calls. Crowdsourcing helps gather those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve problems and contribute relevant and fresh ideas. It makes it possible to outsource the tasks to an unlimited amount of people and enables mass intelligence to solve problems of all kinds with an affordable price tag.

The most popular example of Crowdsourcing is Wikipedia. Wikipedia allows professionals as well as amateurs to help compile an online encyclopedia. Another example will be with Software developers who release beta versions of upgrades or new software to the public for testing. This method was also adopted by the social network Facebook in 2008 to translate its website’s English content to other languages.

As usual Crowdsourcing does not fail to have its downs but the upside of it are:

  • It costs fairly lower to crowdsource than hire a professional.
  • Ideas can come from the strangest places thus having a group of people from different psychography can be beneficial.

But its downsides are a lot but dependent on the purpose at which you are crowdsourcing:

  • It is not on a contractual basis, any member can back out at any moment.
  • It may be difficult trying to get people with pools of ideas to collaborate and thus time may be expended more in managing rather than innovation.

Also, there is no price tag for professionalism and expertise. But all of it are dependent on the sector as I stated earlier. Crowdsourcing is beneficial to startups who are budget conscious and need designs like logos, websites, letterheads; conversely for designers of all kinds who are interested in showcasing their work to a wider audience.

Fundamentally, to determine if Crowdsourcing is for you or your company, two questions you ought to ask to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem I will like to solve?
  2. How much am I willing to pay for the solution?

Answers to these questions will help shape which path you will take.

Let’s take a look at some types of Crowdsourcing:

  • Crowdfunding – specific projects are funded by a large group of people within a time period. These projects include films, community projects, music and the arts. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are classic examples of a form of crowdfunding.
  • Crowddesign–  a bunch of people come together to design a product.
  • Crowdwisdom– Yahoo answers is an example.

Other examples of crowdsourcing sites besides Wikipedia include: Freelancer, Guru, Innocentive, Scriptlance, Elance, etc.

Ushahidi is quite interesting. It is an african owned crowdsourcing site and worth a visit. There are lots of African startups with innovative ideas. I will be sharing some of these awesome startups in upcoming posts, but do feel free to mention some to me via twitter – @AbiikeBlogger.