The goal of crowdsourcing usually is to obtain creative ideas or have tasks completed quickly while keeping costs minimal. As the technique gets more attention so do its success stories. And the challenges. Crowdsourcing does not eliminate costs, as illustrated by a project undertaken by the University College London and shared by The Society for Scholarly Publishing.
About a year ago, the institution received a grant to transcribe its collection of handwritten works by philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Thousands of papers were photographed and uploaded to a website created for the project. The project was publicized – the story even being picked up by international news outlets. After beta testing, the site officially launching in fall of 2010. Volunteers went to work, transcribing hundreds of pages which were then vetted by researchers. And then, six months later, with about 1.5% of work completed, the grant ended and the project scaled back: a clear reminder that even when labor is free, coordinator and management of a project can generate significant expense.
A recent article from Innovation Management helps companies avoid this experience by introducing the practice of “intelligent crowdsourcing”. While primarily focused on idea generation rather than obtaining labor, it offers plenty of advice and encouragement for doing so efficiently and effectively. On of the characteristics of this practice is to ensure that the right crowd is sought for the job. For example, in the case of the University College London, they could have implemented some method to vet volunteers, ensuring that a worker produced work of high enough quality that it would not take and undue amount of time for a paid researcher to vet.
Using techniques like netnography to whittle down the crowd along with performing covert crowdsourcing and enlisting intermediaries like IdeaConnection are just a few of the suggestions in the interesting article that could save your organization time and money.