What is crowdsourcing?

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Toss your question out into the Internet crowd and get your answer
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Got a problem that needs resolved? Toss it into cyberspace or crowdsource

The state of the art, high tech age that we live in has resulted in the creation of new words to describe new concepts. "Crowdsourcing" is exactly such a term.


What is crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing means discovering a way to finish a task or find a solution to an issue by involving a wide range of organizations or people. The plea for information, help and feedback is usually issued via the Internet.

When you are asked for advice or information and you oblige, you are a part of crowdsourcing. The asker, which could be an individual or a company, is, obviously, the initiator of crowdsourcing or the crowdsourcer. There is no payment attached to crowdsourcing, at least not for those who provide the answers and expertise that the asker is requesting.

The Internet has made it tremendously easy to reach millions of people with the click of a mouse, so why not utilize that audience for problem solving? There is no easier way to gather up a bunch of opinions or recommendations quickly than via the Internet.

Crowdsourcing allows problems to be dealt with swiftly and inexpensively. Crowdsourcing enables a company or business to tap into a vast range of talent that probably does not exist within the boundaries of a particular company.


Crowdsourcing is sometimes referred to as a help engine or social answer. In a way, the answer to what is crowdsourcing is that it is a form of outsourcing. Most of us already know that outsourcing means that work is done by people outside of your company or even outside of your country. The difference between outsourcing and crowdsourcing is that outsourcing is achieved via a specific person or organization. Crowdsourcing means that the problem or task is thrown into the wide open space of the Internet to an undefined crowd and all are welcome to provide a solution or provide feedback.

The word crowdsourcing comes, of course, from outsourcing. Instead of using out, crowd was inserted and this refers to a non-specific, undefined online community of web users.

Instead of a company outsourcing a function to people outside of the company, the institution instead outsources the function to a large, network of people. It is comparable to an open casting call. Anyone is free to jump into the fray and express his opinion.

Crowdsourcing is a smart way to test drive a product, so to speak. Pitch your idea and see what kind of response you get. You may get valuable insight into how to improve whatever it is you are trying to sell, whether it is a tangible product or an idea.

A good example of crowdsourcing is the Do the World a Flavour campaign implemented by Ben and Jerry. The ice cream manufacturer asked people for inspiration for a new variety of ice cream. Any one who surfs the web was welcome to jump in and give their two cents.

Crowdsourcing is a valuable tool for politicians. The official can put his finger on the pulse of the nation by engaging in crowdsourcing and hearing first hand what people need, what they hate, what they will support and what they consider plain stupid and will not tolerate or support.

Credit for the word crowdsourcing goes to Jeff Howe, an American journalist, who first used the term in an article that he wrote for Wired magazine. The concept behind the phenomenon of what is crowdsourcing -- meaning to harness collective potential -- was around prior to his introduction of the term in 2006; however, no one had attached a name to it.

Crowdsourcing is considered collective intelligence of the wisdom of the masses. Crowdsourcing entails harnessing the power of a crowd of people, which leads to collective intelligence that is far better than what any work group or any one person can come up with.


Definition of Crowdsourcing

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