Crowding out doubt: How to best carry out crowdsourcing

CHIP IN: Members of the crowd should know how their contributions will be used and what level of commitment is required. AFP

So crowdsourcing has piqued your interest, and you’re raring to give it a go. But before you plunge right into it, here are a few things that you would need to consider: 

Define the work 

Think carefully through the task or project at hand, and look at which parts of the process are suitable for crowdsourcing. 

Pick a model 

Decide on a suitable method to engage the crowd. Pick one that best suits your purpose. Some of the typical methods which are used include:  

1. Posting tasks online and seeking workers or volunteers (labour marketplace)
2. Organising information or knowledge
3. Searching for an answer (querying experts for advice)
4. Obtaining market validation (seeking public opinion or feedback) 

Choose your crowd 

Next, determine who the crowd will be for this particular crowdsourcing exercise. Crowds need not always mean the general public. Certain roles may require specialists from a particular field. In a commercial setting, an organisation may want to consider seeking help from internal crowds, i.e. people from within that organisation itself. 

Here are a few crucial areas to contemplate when defining what a relevant crowd would mean for your situation: 

1. Inside/outside
Should the task or project be crowdsourced internally within your own group or organisation, or externally to the general public or certain expert groups? This decision depends on factors such as confidentiality, teamwork structures and the risks involved. 

2. Local/global
Should crowdsourcing be contained to a certain locality or country, or extended farther beyond those boundaries (for example, to global markets)?. Issues to consider here include trust levels, the need for local engagement and the availability of suitable talent pools.  

3. Commodity/talent
Do you require the services of the average member of the public or a specialist? This depends on whether the “task outcome is critical” and “can be repeated by multiple providers as a check” with “minimal creativity” required.  

Set a structure 

Design an easily understood process for engaging people through crowdsourcing and make sure those who sign up for the project have a clear picture of what they’re getting themselves into. If some form of payment is involved, ensure it is clear to them from the start how this will be carried out and what are the conditions that need to be complied with. 

Although crowdsourcing is often carried out on a virtual platform, members of the crowd have every right to know how their contributions will be used and what level of commitment is required once they take on the project, just as they would had you met them in person.  

Locate providers 

Now that you’ve gotten the details in order, it’s time to seek out parties who can meet those needs that you have sought out through crowdsourcing. Take your time and select the best worker or partner available, and start off by handing small projects to this new contact. Once he or she has proven to be trustworthy, you can engage them for bigger tasks when the need arises. 

(Tips provided courtesy of Carl Esposti, chief executive officer and founder of website and Massolution; and Ross Dawson, chairman of Advanced Human Technologies)

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