CrowdSourcing, a term originally coined in Wired magazine in 2006, takes tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor and presents them to a group as an open call. The ethics of crowdsourced services is hotly debated. (The latest article on this topic — 6 Reasons Crowdsourcing And Spec Work Sucks by Spyre Studios’ Matthew Carpenter — is making its way around the Twitter-verse.) As a general rule, Think Tank Creative is against crowdsourcing, however, there are several circumstances which are an ideal use for the crowdsourced movement:
The best example of crowdsourced funding we’ve seen is the book Designing Obama. Using KickStarter.com, the publishers successfully raised over $65,000 to print and distribute their book. Funders were able to pay any amount from $10 to $10,000 to support the book. With crowdsourced funding, an idea can receive the support and backing needed because a large group of people can show their support.
Testing (or Users as Testers)
It is near impossible for an individual or a team to find every error in a Website or product. By opening up your product up to a group of testers, you can guarantee that your product or site has been tested on a variety of platforms, operating systems, and browsers. Your testers are real-life people, and they are detached from the development process. They can offer honest feedback on what works and what doesn’t without bias.
Much like testing, support is an ideal use for crowdsourcing. Online communities (such as ExpertsExchange.com) have been providing troubleshooting for years. By providing crowdsourced support, your users will get the answers they need and will often be able to solve problems without subjecting your customer support personnel to repetitive problem solving. A great support community to look at is GetSatisfaction.com.