Crowdsourcing is one of those relatively new fields of employment and one which can take a bit of explaining. Unlike a ‘regular’ job you’re neither taken on as an employee nor as a freelancer. Have you ever seen one of those ‘design-a-cover’ competitions? For the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Radio Times held a competition for youngsters to send in their drawings; the lucky winner would see their cover in print and have a small feature written about them. A great way to advertise a job? All the children who produced artwork and sent it in were fulfilling a crowdsource design task: the magazine didn’t have to pay its own designers and lots of ‘on spec’ work was sent to the editor for free.
For a professional designer the practice can be demoralising. As with much of the freelance world, it seems that the lowest bidder gets the contract, no matter what the quality of the work will be like. The ethos of ‘you get what you pay for’ has little bearing on the matter. I could easily make this a downer but sometimes crowdsourcing can have its place. In this article I will outline some of its benefits and drawbacks and perhaps you may be intrigued at some of the job posting.
There are many examples of successful projects that have started out life crowdsourced.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia
If you ignore the minority who initially brought the site into disrepute with uploaded misinformation; the free contributions from people all over the planet have made this the first port of call for anyone doing a bit of research whether they are school kids working on a project or adults digging out some facts.
If you’re interested in earning money then this company may be for you. With its strapline ‘the best ideas get paid’. World famous brand, Unilever, has dropped their ad company, Lowe, with whom they developed the popular Peparami – it’s a bit of an animal series in favour of the potential of crowdsourcing. One advantage for Unilever is the potential for staying current; in tune with their market.
For owners of the iPhone, you can download this unusual app. This basically gives you access to a whole slew of odd jobs that pay between $3 to over $50. Although the app is currently restricted to a few cities and states in the US, it’s catching on fast so I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes its way to us soon. There is a bit of a catch with the system; in order to apply for the bigger paying jobs you have to complete a lot of the poorer jobs first to build up your ‘Street Cred’.
Sloan Digital Sky Survey
According to their website, ‘The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is one of the most ambitious and influential surveys in the history of astronomy. Over eight years of operations (SDSS-I, 2000-2005; SDSS-II, 2005-2008), it obtained deep, multi-colour images covering more than a quarter of the sky and created 3-dimensional maps containing more than 930,000 galaxies and more than 120,000 quasars.’
Impressive to be sure and it ties in with the GalaxyZoo crowdsourcing scheme whereby individuals help to designate galaxies into their specific types at a rate that cannot be achieved even by computers.
From their website: ‘The tasks vary from image and video tagging, to find some information online, writing and editing, etc. The difficult and longer the tasks, the more you get paid. There is no set schedule. You can work anytime. All you need to do is complete your task and submit. Credibility is very important in order to get paid. Every time you complete your task correctly, your credibility score rises up. In this way, you can gain access to a wider range of work.’ Simply register with the site and you can become part of a planet-wide resource.
Lawn Mowing Online
Since April 2011, 300 skilled people have been able to top up their income in the States by joining this crowdsourcing job website. With a range of 1000 miles the site acts like an agency where a garden owner can get their lawn mowed at the fraction of the cost of a traditional lawn care company.
This is an amazing crowdsourcing project, one I find breathtaking in scale and simplicity. reCAPTCHA is a company owned by Google that is currently trying to transcribe all texts into digital format. Books and documents are scanned but when Optical Character Recognition fails it’s down to a human to decipher the word. You’ll have come across many websites where you have had to type in two words that look distorted in some way. One word is a ‘control’ word which the system knows but the other word is a mystery to it. If you type in one word correctly it will assume you have also typed in the second correctly. This second word will be fed back to the system and inserted in one of those previously undecipherable scans.
Guest Blogger, Greg Coltman, makes a living from being decipherable. Until Doctors’ handwriting becomes legible by OCR he’ll keep typing in those CAPTCHA words…
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