Crowdsourcing is not milking the masses for free labour, so put away your teets
I read Tara Hunt’s Please Stop Crowdsourcing Me blog post this morning over a holiday-inspired coffee and baileys.
What Tara had to say about crowdsourcing:
“I’ve been a long opponent to the term ‘Crowdsourcing’ as it invokes the image of an unpaid group of volunteers giving ideas for free while a corporation rakes in endless profits from them.”
It made me think about my goals for the year 2008.
At the top of my list now: Educate the world about the true meaning of the word “crowdsource.”
It drives me up the wall when people like Tara blacklist the term as if it’s a naughty word. As if crowdsourcing is when corporations lure consumers into their worlds with promises of better products and more transparency - only to suck consumers’ hearts and minds dry… But that’s not the case.
Crowdsourcing is not about loving you then leaving you.
It’s about making your business practices transparent and the walls of your office porous. It’s about creating ways to engage consumers, listen to them, act on their feedback and reward them with more than a one-time pat on the back. There are loads of fantastic examples of crowdsourcing at its best, which Tara neglects to highlight.
I really respect Tara’s work - but as a community evangelist, I don’t understand why she wouldn’t be helping create a list of crowdsourcing best practices. After all, crowds are communities. They need to be inspired, engaged, educated, entertained… Members need to see value in their contributions. If they feel “used and abused” they won’t return.
Some awesome examples of crowdsourcing:
1. Threadless — crowdsources designs, but the designers gain fame and make cash… sounds like reciprocity to me!
2. InnoCentive — Companies pose problems to the community and members who solve problems earn cash rewards
3. Sell-a-Band — wanna-be rock stars get to source the crowd for funding and votes… they gain fame, cut an album and create a built-in fan base
4. iStockPhoto — iStock sources stock photography from its community members - in return, they network with other photographers and make money off the images they sell
5. Adobe’s developer community — I want to throw this in because there isn’t always a monetary reward, nor do their community members gain fame, but they engage developers in a 24/7 conversation about their products and the entire company listens
Shameless plug: We provide tools for anyone using our crowdsourcing platform to reward contributors who help them polish an idea or build a business using our crowdsourcing model. Over $60,000 has exchanged hands between members in Cambrian House in the past 6 months.
Also, props to Andy Doan, Cambrian House community member who is crowdsourcing his business “FilmRiot.” Thanks to feedback from the crowd and work they’ve done to support him, Andy left his job on an automotive assembly line and has become President of his own company - and is raising his first round of financing. I’m sure the “crowd” feels really good about helping him achieve his goals.