For many entrepreneurs, outsourcing work through online open networks, or crowdsourcing, has become an increasingly attractive option to help them save time and money. Crowdsourcing isn’t a single approach or strategy, but rather a term that encompasses a wide variety of solutions to an equally diverse set of problems. Creative work, design, coding, surveys, open innovation, microtasks (such as data entry and proofing), macrotasks (such as writing and analysis) and fundraising (please refer to our Crowdfunding page for more details) can all be tackled through crowdsourcing. As the crowdsourcing industry evolves, many sectors—including information technology, cleantech, social innovation and medical sciences—have looked to crowdsourcing as an alternative approach to solving complex problems.
With the scope of challenges crowdsourcing can address, the crowdsourcing landscape has a plethora of options. The crowdsourcing.org directory lists over 2,500 crowdsourcing platforms worldwide. With so many platforms available to the budding entrepreneur looking for resources, how do you decide which solution is the best for your business? This Startup Library page will not recommend or endorse any given crowdsourcing platform, but it will direct you toward information that can help you make informed decisions about which options are the best for you and your startup.
This resource contains the following sections:
I. Crowdsourcing Resources
In this section you will find resources including crowdsourcing tutorials and guides, tips and tricks, industry general practices and directories. For more crowdsourcing resources related to talent, please visit the How do I find talent page and refer to II. Finding developers.
Crowdsourcing.org: Crowdsourcing.org is a professional association dedicated to the crowdsourcing and crowdfunding industry. The site offers a variety of resources that entrepreneurs can use to research the crowdsourcing industry. News, events listings and a website/platform directory are available to visitors; additional features become available to users who register (free). Once registered, users are invited to submit their own content or add to the directory of websites/platforms, creating a true crowdsourcing environment.
Massolution (which publishes Crowdsourcing.org) has a free white paper called The Crowd in the Cloud: Exploring the Future of Outsourcing (2013) (PDF). This white paper examines the shifting trend toward enterprise crowdsourcing, success stories and use cases. Massolution also offers various paid industry reports that provide statistics and analysis for larger enterprises interested in crowdsourcing.
Daily Crowdsource: Daily Crowdsource provides guides, news, analysis and research covering the crowdsourcing industry. Some of the more notable reports include:
- Strategic Guide to Crowdsourcing a Video Campaign (GeniusRocket, 2012) – Promotion is an oft-ignored aspect of a crowdsourcing campaign. Create an amazing video to sell your ideas.
- Exploring Crowdsourcing and Risk (Ideavibes, 2012) – This paper examines the potential pitfalls of crowdsourcing, including privacy issues, idea theft and unpopular campaigns, among others. Requires registration to download.
- Online Co-Creation to Accelerate Marketing & Innovation (eYeka, 2012) – This report explores how marketers and innovators can harness the creativity of online communities to generate ideas and innovation.
Ideavibes White Papers & Case Studies: Ideavibes builds crowdsourcing platforms for organizations that are focused on open innovation (implementing external and internal resources to solve innovation problems), providing supporting technology for campaign design and implementation, as well as promotions, social media and reporting. Their white papers and case studies are a great source of instruction and provide an overview of various challenges faced by crowdsourcing campaigns (free, registration required). Some notable papers include:
- Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation for Enterprises
- A Practical Guide to Crowdsourcing
- Exploring Crowdsourcing and Risk
Victory for crowdsourced biomolecule design (Nature, 2012): This is a story of the power of crowdsourcing to solve real-world problems. Foldit is an online game that uses the crowdsourcing model to build 3-D molecular models of various biological building blocks, such as proteins and enzymes. Online gamers have used the program to tackle medical challenges such as building the hidden structure of an enzyme involved with the reproduction of HIV.
II. Tracking the Latest Developments in Crowdsourcing & Crowdfunding
Look to these resources for up-to-date news and information regarding the crowdsourcing industry.
Although these blogs are published by crowdsourcing platform providers, they concentrate more on providing general crowdfunding information and advice rather than promoting their own products.
CrowdFlower Blog: CrowdFlower offers its clients personalized crowdsourcing portals to help them reach an open online labour force. Their blog reveals trends and issues for those entrepreneurs attempting to reach online workers for both micro and macro tasks.
Innocentive Blog: Innocentive provides an online environment where online users can get involved in solving business, social, policy, technical or scientific challenges and issues posted by organizations. The blog provides insight into crowdsourcing trends and predictions, plus tips on using crowdsourcing effectively.
CrowdConf: CrowdConf is a crowdsourcing conference where data scientists, industry experts and businesses converge. Organized by CrowdFlower, this conference boasts an impressive lineup of speakers, including statisticians, computer scientists, economists and entrepreneurs, whose presentations touch upon such diverse topics as visualization tools, multi-label classification, privacy and quality assurance. Research abstracts for the year’s conference topics are posted on the conference website.
Crowdsourcing Week: Crowdsourcing Week organizes an international industry conference as well as crowdsourcing events in London, Shanghai and Singapore in order to “help organizations transition into a more open, connected, and socially productive society.” Their program includes industry leading speakers and networking events.
Twitter is a great way to track industry trends and keep up to date with developments and issues within the crowdfunding industry. We recommend following these key handles: @Crowdsourcing_, @CrowdCheck, @CreativeSocial and @GeniusRocket.