Obtaining labor, products, or content from people outside the company, particularly from a large group of customers or amateurs who work for little or no pay.
I was introduced to the crowdsourcing concept earlier this year by Patrick Lor, executive vice-president at iStock Photo. The Calgary-based firm sells stock photography submitted by talented amateurs as well as professionals for a fraction of the price — in some cases, one dollar — of traditional stock image companies. It can afford to do that because it sources its content from the crowd, and pays them royalties depending on how popular their images become. When Getty Images purchased iStock Photo in February for $50-million (U.S.), crowdsourcing suddenly seemed a lot more credible.
—Shane Schick, "'Crowdsourcing' — idea power from the people," The Globe and Mail, August 9, 2006
Not all creative crowdsourcing efforts work out the way marketers intend them to, however.
An initiative last year by car maker Chevrolet gave users the online tools to create their own advertisements. Many of the ads pilloried wasteful SUVs, the automotive industry and U.S. President George W. Bush's environmental policies. Nevertheless, Chevrolet kept the satirical entries up on its site.
—Hollie Shaw, "Power of suggestion," National Post, July 20, 2006
Technological advances in everything from product design software to digital video cameras are breaking down the cost barriers that once separated amateurs from professionals. Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn't always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It's not outsourcing; it's crowdsourcing.
—Jeff Howe, "The Rise of Crowdsourcing," Wired, June 1, 2006