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abdullahanefi edited this page Apr 13, 2015 · 1 revision

Introduction In this page, we are all looking for the answers of variety of questions related to the Crowd Sourcing such as:

  • What is crowd sourcing?

  • What is a crowd sourcing application?

  • What are the examples of well-known crowd sourcing applications?

  • What are they used for?

  • Describe common issues, problems, outcomes, and what are benefits of using these applications?

  • What makes them different from ordinary applications?


Today the term "crowdsourcing" simply means taking part in online community who make significant contributions to the variety of works which can be applied to different areas. Actually, the word "crowdsourcing" defines itself, in other words the idea behind crowdsourcing is involving lots of people to make a huge project by dividing the work in a small pieces among them.

Thanks to developing technology genesis of crowdsourcing depends on using Internet efficiently and especially an approach of open source software. However,it is possible to see diversity of examples in old times. One of the most attractive examples is publication of the Oxford English Dictionary by participating 800 volunteers in to this labor in 1884.

The power of crowdsourcing is really enough to change our type of work for instance, you can easily collaborate on a topic with a person who lives in a far country via online platforms.There is no restriction applying crowdsourcing if the thing you are interested in is appropriate for collaboration. The most popular areas in which crowdsourcing is seen are:

  • Enterprise
  • Education
  • Government
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Science & Health

The most famous application of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia. This encyclopedia is different from the traditional ones since it can be changed, developed by users and made more comprehensive. Another well-known example of crowdsourcing is Facebook. For instance by using Facebook, users can instantly contribute daily news by uploading pictures related to the weather conditions directly to the Facebook page of TV channel. Also we can see application of crowdsourcing in Google Translate since people can enhance translations by making corrections on them.


  • Unilever used the crowdsourcing platform ideaBounty to find creative ideas for its next TV campaign for their snack food brand Peperami.

  • My Starbucks Idea is a community website realized by Starbucks. It is designed to collect suggestions and feedback from customers. The website is powered by the Salesforce software.

  • Wikipedia is often cited as a successful example of crowdsourcing, despite objections by co-founder Jimmy Wales to the term.

  • Pepsi launched a marketing campaign in early 2007 which allowed consumers to design the look of a Pepsi can. The winners would receive a $10,000 prize, and their artwork would be featured on 500 million Pepsi cans around the United States.

  • L'Oreal used viewer-created advertising messages of Current TV to pool new and fresh advertising ideas.

  • IBM collected over 37,000 ideas for potential areas for innovation from brainstorming sessions with its customers, employees and their family members in 2006.

  • Google Translate serves as a way to improve google's translation quality. It allows anyone to volunteer and make the translations better for everyone using google translate.

  • In addition Yahoo Answers works as crowdsourced Q&A and Linux as an open source software can be thought as a crowdsourcing project.


Crowdsourcing is apparently can be used in Internet-based activities.Facebook,Google Translate are just a few major examples of many.It is also used in marketing areas for getting new ideas,testing products or making new innovations.

In addition to IT technologies or market research areas, Crowdsourcing is used in numerous areas such as astronomy,ornithology,genealogy and genetic genealogy research.

Foldit online game is an excellent example for how crowdsourcing can be used in healthcare field.In the game, people were able to solve an AIDS-research problem that had stumped researchers for over 10 years in just three weeks.

In another form of making use of user-generated content, Gannet, the newspaper publisher in the United States, has made a decision to crowdsource some of its news gathering operations. Rather than relying on full time reporters to gather all of its news, the firm has actively sought to crowdsource, in one example the firm’s Fort Myers News Press invited readers to investigate and report on examples of government malfeasance.

Crowdsourcing can also diversify as crowdfunding which involves asking a crowd of people to donate money to your project.It can also be used in designing field.For example,If you need a logo,you can tell a crowd of designers what you want,deadline and the salary.After they present their products you can choose from many design options what suits to your needs.


There are 4 major topics of controversy about crowdsourcing's advantages or disadvantages [according to wikipedia]

Capital Raising Simplified

Crowdsourcing allows entrepreneurs to access a wide range of investors each having small stakes in the project. This way capital raising process is simplified. Thanks to this simplification, entrepreneurs can allocate more time to the project itself rather than to capital raising process.

On the other hand some argue that this way of capital raising deprives the entrepreneur from learning how to convince investors to invest in his/her project.

In my opinion simplifying the capital raising process is an advantage. Because the opponents see the entrepreneurs project as a learning toy rather than a real project. With this in mind they think that entrepreneurs loose the opportunity to learn useful things that they will use in real(?) projects. This way of thinking condemns the crowdsourcing implicitly as a non serious way of project development.

Increased Number of Funded Ideas

As explained above crowdsourcing simplifies the capital raising process. This in turn encourages entrepreneurs to start new projects, that they wouldn't start without crowdsourcing. Examples include niche ideas that can't raise the necessary capital with ordinary methods.

Thanks to crowdsourcing the number of funded ideas increases. But this increased number of funded ideas means increased number of failures, and each failure means the loss of resources of the society.

This topic can't be easily classified as an advantage or disadvantage because we don't have a clear measure for the term advantage. Is it the high number of successful projects, or the low number of failed projects, or some combination of both?

Product Quality Question

Crowdsourcing is frequently seen as a way of realizing things cheaply, and contributors are paid (if paid at all) according to number of task they complete. Controlling the quality of the task done by the contributor becomes harder due to high number of contributors. These two facts leads to quickly done tasks which lack quality. To overcome this quality issue, same task is assigned to many contributors. This causes a redundancy.

Due to nature of the crowdsourcing method, most contributors are from medium developed countries. Because the internet connection is not easily available in low developed countries, and payments are not sufficient for high developed countries. This hinders a random contributor sample to emerge.

Under- or unpaid contributors tend to not finish their task. So tasks that require a long time to complete are likely to be stay as not done in the queue.

An example for the quality question is the Facebook's localization. When Facebook began its localization program in 2008, it encountered some criticism for the low quality of its crowdsourced translation.

Ethical Question

As contributors are paid per task done, the total amount of earning is totally dependent to their performance. At first this seems totally normal. But it is not guaranteed that their earning confirms the minimum wage. Considering the history of the fight for the establishment of the minimum wages, this is seen as an abuse of the contributors labor.

On the other hand crowdsourcing offers an opportunity to decide on how much time to work in a day, which is not generally offered by a minimum wage paying institution.

Useful Links about Crowdsourcing

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