Growth5 Blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crowdsourcing

What is Crowdsourcing?

Wikipedia's definition: Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call.

In the March 30, 2009 edition, Forbes featured Dolores Labs, a company that is building technology to collect, organize and filter microtasks for crowdsourcing projects.

Co-founder, Lukas Biewals originally created Dolores Labs to provide quality assessments for the work being done by the 200,000 or so moonlighters that work on Amazon's Mechanical Turk - an online marketplace giving businesses and developers access to an on-demand, scalable workforce. The workers (called "turkers") select from thousands of tasks and work whenever they want.

Dolores Labs makes it easy for companies to tap thousands of these turkers for short stretches--and get good quality work. The San Francisco company has a dozen algorithms that assess the turkers' accuracy and speed. It acts as a middleman between companies with grunt work to be done and workers roaming Mechanical Turk for jobs. It spells out the pay and job specifications on the Turk Web site.

"Thomas Knox, a 28-year-old high school graduate who teaches guitar in Schaumburg, Ill., has seen his lesson schedule shrink. Since January he's spent 15 hours weekly on Turk assignments. For an average of $3 an hour he sifts through Web pages and tags things (for one job he marked photos of men with goatees) while watching sports games on TV. "It's better than nothing right now," he says.

"Document-sharing site Scribd used Dolores Labs to have 10 million documents categorized by type (resume, recipe, sports, news). Scribd cofounder Tikhon Bernstam says it would have cost the company $30,000 to hire staffers to do this. With Dolores Labs as middleman and accuracy cop, the project cost only $2,000."

Our companies plan to try Dolores Labs for some market research and perhaps a couple other projects. I will let you know how it goes.

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