Why Not Crowdsource?Posted by Jessica Oman
Crowdsourcing has become a buzzword for social media enthusiasts and online businesses. To quote Wikipedia, “Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.” While crowdsourcing can be a boon for fundraising efforts and beta testers, it has its drawbacks as a way to obtain a professional service.
Disadvantages of Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing can undermine the qualifications and knowledge of experienced, credible service providers. Take editing (since it’s something we do a lot of). A service called Kibin has popped up, which offers really cheap editing services with work done by volunteers. This service takes your English 100 classmate, your friend with a Math degree “but he’s also really good at English!”, and your bibliophile aunt and puts them all in the same virtual room, proofing your papers for practically nothing. While Kibin’s service is intriguing, let’s face it; none of the people in the previous sentence are truly qualified to edit documents. You truly are getting what you pay for with crowdsourced editing services. While you might get lucky, you’re more likely to get poor service – and what’s worse, you may never even know it.
Kibin’s sample edit received a 5-star rating according to the web site. However the comments don’t allude to the overuse of cliché phrasing, which weakens any paper’s argument. The editor doesn’t clearly suggest how the writer might improve his or her writing for future papers. And, not all of the errors have been caught in this edit. The third paragraph contains incorrect quote integration and there is a capitalization error, both of which were missed by the editor.
At $1 per 100 words, this is definitely the least expensive editing service out there (well, except for your friend with the Math degree), but it falls short of the services a professional editor can offer.
When to Use Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing has many advantages; “the power of many” can lead to great results. Crowdsourcing to raise money for a charity, for example, can do wonders to raise awareness for a great cause. It can also help small ventures and creative projects get started, that would otherwise be forgotten without funding. Kickstarter does an incredible job of providing a platform where artists and entrepreneurs can create a buzz and awareness about a project or a product and raise the money to fund it at the same time, through many small donations (called “crowdfunding”).
Crowdsourcing is also a great way to test out a new design or get feedback on a product or service. Technology companies are all about crowdsourcing, giving access to new online services to a group of people who get to use it for free in exchange for helping the company work out the kinks before releasing it to the general public.
The Last Word
If you’re thinking about using a crowdsourced service, first consider whether you might be compromising quality or credibility. And if you need an editor, please contact us!