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Understanding Crowd Sourcing

New Solutions for Small Businesses?

What is Crowdsourcing? Wikipedia defines “crowdsourcing” as:

“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.”

Typically, crowdsourcing involves broadcasting a problem via the web and asking a large group of unknown individuals to solve the problem. Either the crowd or the asking individual can determine which solution is the best, and reward the winner either monetarily or via recognition. Crowdsourcing can also be used to do piecework; things that could take you hundreds to thousands of hours can be assigned to a “crowd” do be completed in days.

Some examples of crowdsourcing are:

1 Design work. Numerous web sites allow users to submit a design project and have designers bid on the work. In other cases, designs are pre-submitted from the “crowd” and the user then pays for the winning submission.
2 Programming. The same concept is used for programming applications and designing websites. Web tools are available to have your program application done quickly and often cost effectively.
1 Data Entry. Have a large collection of small parts that need to be sorted for your website? You can use crowdsourcing to have the parts cataloged and categorized for you on a price per piece basis. Each member of the crowd gets paid for the portion of the work they complete.
1 Data Classification. Take a large set of data and have the “crowd” help you sort through it. NASA has used crowdsourcing to help document its library of photos and even help prioritize the images it takes from the Mars Orbiter. They did this by launching a tool and asking the public to participate in their organization project.

How can Crowdsourcing Help?

Check Businesses. You can use crowdsourcing to develop a new business logo, design a website, evaluate/sort data, or get feedback on a new product or service. Essentially, crowdsourcing allows you to cost-effectively tap into a huge network of affordable freelancers.
Check Freelancers. Crowdsourcing can be a great way to drum up new business. Websites exist to source new work from a wider geographic area than might otherwise be available to you. These crowdsourcing websites that connect businesses with freelancers generally collect a small one-time fee, although others take a percentage of the total transaction.

Sample websites: allows customers to submit a call for identity, web, print, graphic, or merchandise designs, set a price, and select a winning design. allows customers to access thousands of computer programmers around the world helps business owners or individuals access editing, translating, copywriting, and PR services

Is there a downside? Some of the issues that come up when discussing crowdsourcing include making confidential information public, out-sourcing local work to third world countries, and uncertainty about the quality of work done by the “crowd”. While there are varied opinions about the value of crowdsourcing, the concept appears to be here to stay.


Retrieved from a great newsletter dated April, 2011 written by: Tarantino and Co., CPAs.

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