The Things We Can Do With Crowdsourcing Are Limitless (But Hard)

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

I’m going to take the next four days to post a topic a day from the MSLOC430 cMOOC I’m participating in, or maybe the correct term is reading in. I don’t feel like I’m the best participant because I haven’t joined into the co-authored document (an example of crowdsourcing I suppose) defining all these objects or other activities that I should be doing.I’ve more flowed in and out of

I’ve more flowed in and out of discussions and caught the odd post here and there about each topic. I think the beauty of the cMOOC though is that you can flow in and out at will though. You get out of it what you put in and that’s different for everybody.

So, the four terms I’ll be picking apart and thinking about in my way are:

Now to the first topic good stuff.

Crowdsourcing

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think crowdsourcing?

I think of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a worthy cause of some sort. Maybe a company that wants to change the world for the better but keep control from the greed of companies who have their own agenda when funding a company.

I even think of not so worthy causes such as the fad of some to attempt to crowdsource their next vacation, or honeymoon by asking relatives (and sometimes strangers) to fund it.

My first introduction to crowdsourcing is hard to put my finger on, but an example I do remember is from the Gamification conference in 2012. An employee of Microsoft used crowdsourcing and gamification methods to uncover bugs in some new software. There were hidden badges within the game of uncovering bugs and making reports on them.

Playing this game was completely voluntary so there had to be some way to get people to want to do it.

The big question for crowdsourcing is how it’s going to benefit me. What’s in it for me?

I guess that’s where the gamification elements come into it. An important element of crowdsourcing is how you attract people to want to solve your problem.

Is it fun? Is there a potential payback? Do you get recognition?

People aren’t going to throw money at you or start working to solve your problem unless there’s something great in it for them.

One of the easiest things to do is assume that crowdsourcing is the answer to all your problems and people are going to be begging to help you solve your big problem. It’s supposed to be a cheap, easy way to solve problems, right?

Wrong.

I think the main benefit of crowdsourcing is that it opens you up to a huge diverse group of thinking, new ways of seeing the problem. This all comes at a huge cost though. A lot of money and time has to be invested to make sure the crowd will even be interested in helping.

It’s necessary to have that “what’s in it for me?” question covered from all directions so you won’t just get forgotten.

It’s Not That Easy

In the MSLOC430 blog, there’s a summary of Daren Brabham’s four ingredients to crowdsourcing:

  1. An organization that has a task that needs to be performed
  2. A community (crowd) that is willing to perform the task voluntarily
  3. An online environment that allows the work to take place and the community to interact with the organization, and
  4. Mutual benefit for the organization and the community. (Brabham, 2013)

The message I get out of this is that crowdsourcing is hard. A lot of work is necessary to make it work. The only step along the way that might be easy (or not!) is that an organization has a task that needs to be performed, or I might add a problem that needs to be solved.

Each of the other steps is a huge challenge and one that takes a lot of thinking, preparation, and work to pull off. Nobody is awaiting your call to jump in there and help, there must be a reason.

It’s Relevant To All

I don’t see that crowdsourcing is relevant to only business. It seems to be a topic that is extremely relevant to education, business, non-profits, anybody really that has the resources and wants to put in the time to make it work.

What kinds of examples have you seen in the world of crowdsourcing? I’m interested in hearing in what context you’ve seen crowdsourcing attempted, failed, or succeed.

Please leave a comment below and share, let’s crowdsource a list of great examples of crowdsourcing 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll be attempting to explore the world of Idea Management and Design. I don’t know where to start on that topic, but I get the idea that that’s a topic I will instantly connect to something I’ve seen or just makes perfect sense.