You already know crowdfunding, the collective financing that allows you to fulfill your dreams. Although by now you should know that there are many types of collective collaboration. One of them is crowdsourcing, a way to obtain goods and services through people. What is it about…? Today we’ll explain it in detail.

Crowdsourcing as a support alternative

Crowdsourcing can be understood as an outsourcing model. Namely, a method of providing and/or obtaining goods and/or services. It consists in acquiring them cumulatively, mainly through Internet users. This term was used for the first time in 2005, by the editors Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson of the Wired magazine.

They did this to explain how some businesses used the support of the people. Mostly as an outsourcing method. Soon, they combined the words “crowd” and “outsourcing” and turned them into “crowdsourcing”. In June 2006, Jeff Howe published an article in Wired where he himself defined this term in the following way:

“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.”

As it was observed, crowdsourcing can occur in a company or institution. This means that it can cover various social and commercial areas. Let’s use an old example to understand how it works. In the year 1714, the British government offered a monetary prize to the public. Which would be granted to anyone who could measure the longitudinal position of a ship effectively.

Does it sound familiar to you? Surely yes. Today there are many forms of crowdsourcing, such as making a design contest to choose the logo of a company. Or create a casting to choose one or more candidates for a particular activity. Then we understand that crowdsourcing is inviting the audience through an open call. So that they can offer their support to reach a goal.

As help to boost business

Just as companies use crowdfunding to finance their businesses, they also employ crowdsourcing. A company, individual or institution can use it to delegate and/or outsource functions or tasks to a group of people. Which must be qualified to carry out the respective work that’s required. These people aren’t only limited to doing work, but can also offer ideas to improve the business.

A well-known example is Wikipedia, self-described as the “free-access and free-content Internet encyclopedia”. It was founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. And its job is to offer content and free information to Internet users. For this, Wikipedia relies on these people to write articles on all kinds of topics. Especially users with knowledge in a specific subject.

Wikipedia Collaboration Crowdsourcing
Currently, Wikipedia exists in more than 200 languages ​​and contains around 5,703,211 articles. All written by thousands of people around the world. Source: webeden.co.uk

Crowdsourcing has been used to boost engineering, geography, journalism, genetics and many other branches. Governments, institutions and companies use it because it’s a useful way to obtain information and/or resources at a massive level. Crowdfunding itself is a manifestation of crowdsourcing but in this case directed to financing. Since as we said before, it can cover many things.

Nowadays, this method of outsourcing is used more on the Internet. The companies summon people to give ideas and solutions to their problems. Which in some cases can include financing (crowdfunding). In other cases, it allows a public (qualified or not) to test products or services to determine their value and possible flaws. Companies also rely on users to gather information or measure specific phenomena.

Flickr Crowdsourcing Community
In 2004, Flickr was founded, a website where photos and videos of all kinds are stored, shared and distributed. Within a community of users who offer them under different licenses. Source: Libris Blog – PhotoShelter

If you’re looking for an effective method of obtaining resources, crowdsourcing is undoubtedly a viable method. Especially because it’s not limited exclusively to the business world. It’s very likely that you’ve participated without knowing in an initiative of this type. Even before, during and after a crowdfunding campaign this applies. Because you create a community of people not only to contribute money but also to support you in other aspects.

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Another way to boost your ideas with people!

Photograph used for the entry’s featured image by Nick Youngson in Alpha Stock Images/CC BY-SA 3.0