Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Crowdsourcing!


You have heard about outsourcing and perhaps used it in speech as well. You might also have heard or read or used ‘open source’. Very well, but have you ever used crowdsourcing? What? Yes? Then you have outsmarted me, because, I encountered it very recently and I am getting acquainted with it as I am writing on it. Have you ever done Crowdsourcing or have been part of it? The chances are pretty much in favour of it! But you didn’t have a word for it. We do not have words for so many things but we do them. Whenever you have posed a problem on a forum such as Wikianswers or Facebook or in open market place or in any community which invites problems (off-course for solving them!), you have done it; you have crowdsourced your problem.  

Crowdsourcing is a neighbour of Outsourcing and virtually a sibling of open sourcing. Crowdsourcing is perspicuously a portmanteau of Crowd and Outsourcing. But what does this blend of fairly familiar terms means? It means that an agent, be it a person or an organization (for or non-profit) presents a challenge or problem before crowd and invites solutions from everyone. Contrary to the Outsourcing in which the resources utilized for solving problems are fairly known lowly paid agents; crowdsourcing invites most qualified, open and volunteering to share, talented individuals or groups from crowd to solve problems. The key advantage is to get problems solved with relatively low expenditure and with the availability of world-wide expertise. But as happens to be the case with most of the paradigms, it’s not a very rich model without loopholes. You don’t very often get quality solutions to your problems. Why do people solve problems in such a model? Yes, they do it because they need fun, something out of their monotony, or, they are rewarded at times and get famous or just because they are humane and want to help!

One of the best as well as earliest examples of Crowdsourcing is creation of Oxford English Dictionary.  A 70 year old Crowdsourcing project started with an open call to everyone to submit as many words in an indexed form as possible with quotations and examples and over 6 million submissions were received. Well, Cloudsourcing is one of the newest members in OED family.

Collaboratition is another neologism to describe a type of Cloudsourcing where collaboration of many people or groups is required to complete a project and competition between constituting components (either individuals or groups) is used as a motivator. Crowdsourcing has been used not only as professional problem solving technique but also as a tool to solve social problems by many non-profit organizations.