On this forum, we spend a lot of time discussing the enormous promise of crowdsourcing and how it will revolutionize all aspects of our lives. We just love crowdsourcing at Microtask. That being said, what I’m about to say may come as a surprise. Please take a seat for me.
I had recently come across an alarming piece on crowdsourcing. The article centred on 99designs, a website where designers offer their services for a fee.
In theory, it’s excellent. Assume you’re considering starting a new business and need a fresh brand for it. Simply post a design brief on the website, and you’ll be inundated with submissions. You only pay for the video that you choose at the conclusion of the process.
You can create an account at 99designs, where you’ll find all of the tools you need to guarantee that original work is paid for and does not stem from copyright theft or exploitation of the community only as a source of inspiration. There has also been much criticism of how it and similar platforms (such as ReDesignMe, MycroBurst, or CrowdSpring) function.
Others believe that this sort of crowdsourcing encourages quantity rather than quality (99designs’ motto being “a new design uploaded on the site every seven seconds”). There may be some truth to these allegations, although it is likely that the fact that people are actively utilizing the site indicates that they believe the outcomes are worthwhile.
Others think that this “competitive crowdsourcing” exploits the people who contribute. “I’m wondering how many of you would come to work Monday morning if you had to compete with 92 coworkers for a single paycheck at the end of the day?”, an Internet user mentioned above asked. Please note that the two flaws are interrelated in one way since the ability to only pay for one service drives costs down. However, this might be a less appealing prospect to many individuals since it is unlikely that they will meet their goals. In other words, people who are willing to do anything for money would probably choose participation in an MLM company over the alternative of working for free.
When the notion that such groups lead to abuse is considered, it gains credibility when one considers that minors are numerous among the contributors. Although 99designs is working hard to prevent people under 18 from accessing the community, their efforts are easily bypassed over the internet.
“This is all voluntary work,” says another user, in response to the contention that individuals are compelled to participate by sending in designs. (…) Some of those 11-year-old designers, perhaps they are genuinely interested in art or design, and this allows them to develop their nascent talents, learn some design skills, or utilize software tools. “To tell you the truth, I believe it would make an excellent exercise for a school project in an Art/Design class to have each student prepare a submittal as part of a class assignment. ” (To be clear, this isn’t the subject of this discussion; however, in my opinion there is no doubt that something like.
For me, the essential issue is: when a high-quality creative output is required, should competitive crowdsourcing be used? The major issue I see with these crowdsourcing sites is that they are mutually exclusive. When one is chosen, the others are immediately eliminated or need to be revised and tailored for various tasks. Many of the problems associated with abuse of contributors trace back to this starting issue.
Fortunately, there is another method. The techniques used by Microtask’s and others that rely on a minimal amount of worker participation are quite different. When the whole task is completed, each submission (or “microtask”), when added to all of the other tiny components, helps to accomplish it. Everyone who completes a task to the required level will get the prize they desire.
The ability of such a crowdsourcing platform to generate creative solutions has yet to be demonstrated, which is evident in its application for operations with identical steps or well-defined methods.
We’re currently investigating this. We’d be interested to hear your ideas on how creativity and crowdsourcing may coexist in the same sentence without sacrificing quality (and life) production. Don’t worry; all excellent suggestions will be rewarded with equal sincerity and respect.