The idea of crowdsourcing is not part of the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ). The concept comes from the English language and is developed from two terms: crowd (which can be translated as “crowd” ) and outsourcing (which refers to the “outsourcing of resources” ).
Crowdsourcing, therefore, refers to a massive collaboration provided by individuals who are not part of an entity or institution. It is an open modality of joint work.
The notion is linked to a call addressed to an indefinite number of people, who contribute their ideas for the development of a certain project. The one who makes the call, in this way, outsources a task.
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Other forms in which crowdsourcing is known are open task outsourcing and distributed open collaboration. One of its most important characteristics is that the work of the community or group of individuals who are openly invited to participate in a project replaces what would traditionally be done by contracted individuals or companies.
The term was coined in 2006 by writer Jeff Howe, who works for Wired magazine covering topics such as the entertainment industry. Precisely, he used the word crowdsourcing for the first time in an article entitled « The emergence of crowdsourcing », in said publication.
Howe pointed out that through crowdsourcing we access the most suitable individuals for the task, since the call is open and those who do not feel prepared to give their best are less likely to respond than in a traditional contract. In addition to their performance in solving the problems raised by the campaign leader, collaborators can share their own ideas, a factor that increases the degree of diversity.
Among the tasks that are most often carried out through outsourcing are the following: collaboration for the capture, systematization, processing and analysis of large amounts of data; the improvement and implementation of various algorithms; the realization of a given design, such as that of the characters and levels of a video game in a crowdfunding campaign.
This concept has become very popular in recent years, both among those who take advantage of it to carry out projects and those who write about it and the advantages it offers in different fields, be it research or business. Internet, and more specifically web 2.0, is essential for most proposals of this type.
Beyond these definitions, the truth is that there is no single way of understanding crowdsourcing. At a general level, it can be said that it consists of collaborative and voluntary work.
Suppose a town newspaper plans to publish a report on how much money people spend on food. With this objective, it launches a call for neighbors to collect receipts and invoices for this type of purchase for a week, digitize them and send them via email, detailing how their family group is made up. Once the deadline has passed, a journalist from the newspaper is in charge of compiling the information and creating various statistics that are reflected in the special report. It could be said that the journalistic article in question was carried out thanks to crowdsourcing.
A beer brand, on the other hand, may invite consumers to come up with a new slogan. The firm’s marketing experts will select ten phrases, which will be put to a vote on the Internet. The author of the phrase that is chosen, as a prize, will receive free twenty liters of beer per month for a year. In this way, the company in question appeals to crowdsourcing.