Summary
Crowdsourcing involves a large group of dispersed participants contributing or producing goods or services—including ideas, votes, micro-tasks, and finances—for payment or as volunteers. Contemporary crowdsourcing often involves digital platforms to attract and divide work between participants to achieve a cumulative result. Crowdsourcing is not limited to online activity, however, and there are various historical examples of crowdsourcing. The word crowdsourcing is a portmanteau of "crowd" and "outsourcing". In contrast to outsourcing, crowdsourcing usually involves less specific and more public groups of participants. Advantages of using crowdsourcing include lowered costs, improved speed, improved quality, increased flexibility, and/or increased scalability of the work, as well as promoting diversity. Crowdsourcing methods include competitions, virtual labor markets, open online collaboration and data donation. Some forms of crowdsourcing, such as in "idea competitions" or "innovation contests" provide ways for organizations to learn beyond the "base of minds" provided by their employees (e.g. LEGO Ideas). Commercial platforms, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, match microtasks submitted by requesters to workers who perform them. Crowdsourcing is also used by nonprofit organizations to develop common goods, such as Wikipedia. The term crowdsourcing was coined in 2006 by two editors at Wired, Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson, to describe how businesses were using the Internet to "outsource work to the crowd", which quickly led to the portmanteau "crowdsourcing". Howe published a definition for the term in a blog post in June 2006: 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.
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