Crowdsourcing – definition and origins
The term “crowdsourcing” was originally coined by “Wired Magazine” writer Jeff Howe in 2006 and is a combination of the words “outsourcing” and “crowd”. Outsourcing traditionally describes transferring work processes from your own company to an external service provider in order to use the economies of scale involved and minimize costs. A crowd generally describes a large number of individuals who form a community.
The crowdsourcing principle therefore describes a process in which companies outsource parts of their work processes and fall back on a community of thousands of people (the crowd) instead of individual service providers. Companies, so to speak, work with the “intelligence of the masses”. Individual persons who participate in the crowd are called crowd workers or clickworkers.
Crowdsourcing works with or without payment. The best-known example of a crowdsourcing project in which crowd workers are not paid is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
It is a platform everyone can work with and everyone can complement or change. But crowdsourcing is not only divided in regard to finances but also in regard to its different types and application areas.
Different types of crowdsourcing
Microtasking as an important sector of crowdsourcing
When it comes to microjobbing or microtasking very small tasks, so-called microtasks, are offered to a large group of Internet users. In most of the cases these microtasks result out of a major project that has been divided into many similar subtasks.
The crowd is always a good choice whenever companies have to handle a larger number of tasks in a relatively short period of time. The use of the crowd makes a large number of workers available on demand without creating any overhead costs. Therefore, when demand is irregular, a company can make use of the manpower of thousands of workers on a flexible basis.
It goes without saying that the crowd is best used for tasks that are easily divided into individual microtasks and then reassembled to a convincing overall result after completion. In addition, the task that is being outsourced must not require any profound knowledge of your own product or company. This is essential to ensure that a sufficient number of qualified workers are available to implement the project in a short period of time and provide satisfactory results.
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