It’s not Outsourcing – it’s Crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing was a term that I wasn’t too familiar with. Sure, I’ve heard and understood the concept, but I didn’t know it was defined as crowdsourcing. So, for those of you, who like me, didn’t know what crowdsourcing meant I will define it simply, crowdsourcing is acquiring a service, content, or idea by distributing tasks to a large group of people.

The Web has made whatever service, content, or idea a person is searching for even easier to obtain. In “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” various examples are described of this occurrence. Take photography, for example. Years ago, people would pay hundreds of dollars for a photograph for advertising, websites, or anything else. But, it isn’t as easy for a photographer to make that money now. iStockphoto is a stock photo website that sells images for roughly one dollar each. Why would anybody spend hundreds of dollars then? To post or sell an image on iStockphoto you do not have to be a professional, any hobbyist, part-timer, or dabbler can join the effort – it’s just crowdsourcing.

IBM has also joined this “crowdsourcing movement.” The article “Jamming for a Smarter Plant” describes Jam, an “Internet-based platform for conducting conversations through brainstorming.” Jam allows students, business professionals, experts, and more to engage in conversation about particular topics from anywhere in the world.

This discussion of crowdsourcing made me think of Wikipedia – a website that solely relies on the general public to provide the content. Anybody is able to go in and edit a Wikipedia page, and while the company does try to fact check it some, how reliable is it? A lot of people refuse to use the website because they don’t think it is accurate. All of my teachers and professors in the past have forbidden us from using it. My boss is a huge advocate of the website though because it is a quick and easy way to look up a simple term that I may not have known. According to “Measuring Public Relations Wikipedia Engagement: How Bright is the Rule?” 60 percent of people believe that everything posted on Wikipedia is correct.

All in all, crowdsourcing has its pros and cons though. What are your thoughts on the matter?



How often do you use Wikipedia to learn about a new topic?

What are some other examples of Crowdsourcing?

Have you ever participated in IBM’s Jam or a similar brainstorming session? What was your experience like?


7 thoughts on “It’s not Outsourcing – it’s Crowdsourcing.

  1. Many people I know use Wikipedia, for example students at the undergraduate level use it to do their homework.
    I have used Wikipedia many times when I have needed the basic concept of a word. Usually I have used it for my personal information not for work. As I said in my blog, I used Wikipedia to define a concept in my research and Jorie suggested me to find another source.

    • I think Wikipedia is great for quickly understanding a topic, but not for research purposes. The validity of the articles are questionable since the general public can go in and edit it. But, using this as a starting point is great because the articles cite primary sources, which can be used for research.

  2. I personally usually use whatever comes up in the first few results of a search to learn about a new topic. If it happens to be Wikipedia, then I will click on it and read it. There is a website called that has a lot of examples and information on crowdsourcing. Besides Wikipedia, another example would be Shutter Stock, which is user generated stock photos that can be bought very reasonable and used legally. I personally have not participated in an innovation jam however I would be very interested in doing so. It seems like an interesting research based activity to be a part of.

    • While I was researching more about crowdsourcing, I found the website as well. For someone looking more into the topic it is definitely a great place to go to. When you really think about it, there are a lot of companies that utilize crowdsourcing that I never really thought about before, like Shutter Stock.

  3. I use Wikipedia quite frequently. I don’t always rely on the information on the site itself, but often look at its references to find the sources themselves. Wikipedia just serves as a great aggregate of information that’s pulled from many other sources.

    Some other sources of crowdsourcing is Kickstarter and similar funding platforms, Angie’s List, and to an extent Pinterest. All of them ask for the information of many people to create solutions to problems. Many people go through the same issues, so naturally a median to avoid making the same mistakes will be used a significant amount of the time.

    I have never participated in a Jam session. I think it would be interesting to see how the sessions modified people’s opinions. Sometimes a leader in a group can sway the entire group without saying all that much. The makeup of the group also can lead to ever changing results, which is a huge problem when trying to find accurate crowdsourced information.

    • I use Wikipedia similar to how you do. When I am searching for something that is for more educational or research purposes, looking at Wikipedia’s citations helps significantly. In class we did that exercise analyzing some of the citations from a Wikipedia website aren’t reputable. It is important to note and understand that as well.

      Also, I have never thought of Pintrest as a type of crowdsourcing, but you are completely right. People share recipes, arts & crafts, among many other ideas.

  4. Wikipedia is not my first reference choice, but I have gone to the site when it appeared in search results.
    GE’s ecomagination is an example of crowdsourcing. According to its site, the 2011 initiative provided an opportunity for business, entrepreneurs, innovators and students to put forth their breakthrough ideas on home energy creation, management and use. Entrants had the opportunity to develop a commercial relationship with GE.
    I have not participated in brainstorming sessions such as Jam, but viewed it as an awesome opportunity to be a part of something larger than one’s self that could possibly lead to solutions that would help many.

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