Crowdsourcing: online, distributed problem-solving and production model

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Crowdsourcing, a modern business term coined by Merriam-Webster as the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. Crowdsourcing combines the efforts of numerous self-selected volunteers or workers, where each contributor adds a contribution that may combine with those of others to achieve a greater result; hence, crowdsourcing is distinguished from outsourcing in particular for a number of reasons; including that the work may come from an undefined public, rather than being commissioned from a specific, named group, and for the fact that crowdsourcing includes a mix of bottom-up and top-down processes. Regarding the most significant advantages of using crowdsourcing the literature generally discussed costs, speed, quality, flexibility, scalability, and diversity.

“Crowdsourcing is a type of participative online activity in which an individual, an institution, a non-profit organization, or company proposes to a group of individuals of varying knowledge, heterogeneity, and number, via a flexible open call, the voluntary undertaking of a task. The undertaking of the task; of variable complexity and modularity, and; in which the crowd should participate, bringing their work, money, knowledge **[and/or]** experience, always entails mutual benefit. The user will receive the satisfaction of a given type of need, be it economic, social recognition, self-esteem, or the development of individual skills, while the crowdsourcer will obtain and utilize to their advantage that which the user has brought to the venture, whose form will depend on the type of activity undertaken”.

Crowdsourcing refers to a wide range of activities, providing different benefits for its organizers. Crowdsourcing in the form of idea competitions or innovation contests provides a way for organizations to learn beyond what their “base of minds” of employees provides (e.g., LEGO Ideas).  Crowdsourcing can also involve rather tedious “microtasks” that are performed in parallel by large, paid crowds (e.g., Amazon Mechanical Turk). Crowdsourcing has also been used for non-commercial work and to develop common goods (e.g., Wikipedia). Arguably the best-known example of crowdsourcing as of 2016 is crowdfunding, the collection of funds from the crowd.

“Simply defined, crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers.”

Other aspects of Crowdsourcing?

The Crowdsourcers

There are a number of motivations for businesses to use crowdsourcing to accomplish their tasks, find solutions for problems, or to gather information. These include the ability to offload peak demand, access cheap labor and information, generate better results, access a wider array of talent than might be present in one organization, and undertake problems that would have been too difficult to solve internally. Crowdsourcing allows businesses to submit problems on which contributors can work, on topics such as science, manufacturing, biotech, and medicine, with monetary rewards for successful solutions. Although it can be difficult to crowdsource complicated tasks, simple work tasks can be crowdsourced cheaply and effectively.

Crowdsourcing also has the potential to be a problem-solving mechanism for government and nonprofit use. Urban and transit planning are prime areas for crowdsourcing. One project to test crowdsourcing’s public participation process for transit planning in Salt Lake City was carried out from 2008 to 2009, funded by a U.S. Federal Transit Administration grant. Another notable application of crowdsourcing to government problem solving is the Peer to Patent Community Patent Review project for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Researchers have used crowdsourcing systems (in particular, the Mechanical Turk) to aid with research projects by crowdsourcing some aspects of the research process, such as data collection, parsing, and evaluation. Notable examples include using the crowd to create speech and language databases, and using the crowd to conduct user studies. Crowdsourcing systems provide these researchers with the ability to gather large amount of data. Additionally, using crowdsourcing, researchers can collect data from populations and demographics they may not have had access to locally, but that improve the validity and value of their work.

Artists have also utilized crowdsourcing systems. In his project the Sheep Market, Aaron Koblin used Mechanical Turk to collect 10,000 drawings of sheep from contributors around the world.[101] Sam Brown (artist) leverages the crowd by asking visitors of his website explodingdog to send him sentences that he uses as inspirations for paintings. Art curator Andrea Grover argues that individuals tend to be more open in crowdsourced projects because they are not being physically judged or scrutinized. As with other crowdsourcers, artists use crowdsourcing systems to generate and collect data. The crowd also can be used to provide inspiration and to collect financial support for an artist’s work.

Additionally, crowdsourcing from 100 million drivers is being used by INRIX to collect users’ driving times to provide better GPS routing and real-time traffic updates.

As great as many software programs can be, there are always going to be issues that people might have with regards to how to use programs. This is regardless of how many updates are posted into a program over time. Fortunately, crowdsourcing can help with getting programs like knowledge base software analyzed with care to make it easier for information to be gathered.

Crowdsourcing has become a very popular trend in today’s world of knowledge base software. This is ideal for many demands in that it lets people from outside a business take care of many controls relating to how a program is being run.

Asking the Audience

The best way to understand crowdsourcing for a help authoring tool is that it is as though a person is asking the audience for help with getting different problems resolved. This can work with a few simple steps:

  1. A person can go onto a knowledge base program to ask a question about something relating to a program.
  2. The question can then be posted on a proper forum page or social media outlet that is available to the public.
  3. Other members of the public can then answer the question.
  4. Answers to these questions can then be analyzed by the people on a site based on how effective the solutions are.
  5. The people behind the program can then take the answers and implement them into the official manuals, guides and other features that they had created earlier. Some additional testing is typically required to ensure that the information submitted by the audience is actually correct.

By using this process, it will be easier for a business to get its data under control so its manuals will be as accurate as possible. This in turn should make it easier for data to be kept in check. You should use this properly to give yourself the control that you want for your knowledge base so you’ll give people access to a way to help you out at any time.

Why Is This Ideal?

Crowdsourcing is perfect for businesses that need to get their knowledge base programs up and running for a variety of reasons:

  • It makes it to where new ideas and updates can be found on the fly. There’s no need to worry about information being lost or otherwise harder to find over time.
  • The information can also be found quickly within a carefully organized interface that the software program creates. The program can analyze information and keep it in a space where it will not be lost or otherwise hard to organize.
  • This also keeps a business from having to bear with technical support team members that might not be fully trained on how to use a program and might need an extra bit of help with getting certain concepts organized and ready the right way.
  • This also helps businesses by offering a twenty-four hour resource for people to go to when looking for help. They can get assistance from people in many places at any point in the day. That is, a person doesn’t have to worry about getting in touch with someone during very specific time periods in the day.

When used right, crowdsourcing will help you learn more about what you need without being far too confusing. You have to use this right to make it all work quite well. It’s an interesting part of the process that should be explored.

You should certainly consider how crowdsourcing can help you out when getting a help authoring tool running. Crowdsourcing is essential as it makes it easier for a business to give people the help that they need without being far too difficult to handle. Be sure to think about this process when looking for a way to get your crowd functions ready and functional for the needs you hold.