Crowdsourcing is the process of achieving a goal through a large group of people. Primarily engaged over the Internet, crowdsourcing enlists the services of a number of individuals to complete a task, contribute content to a website or raise money for a common goal. It leverages a crowd's collective intelligence and efficacy to achieve specific goals.
The term “crowdsourcing” was officially coined in 2006 by Jeff Howe of Wired Magazine. Howe created the term in a blog post to outline a shift in the traditional business model. Howe noticed that more and more companies were using the Internet to outsource work to individuals. He defined the business issuing the work, the network of people conducting the work and the use of an open call format as the key aspects of crowdsourcing.
There are several different types of crowdsourcing used by businesses, nonprofit organizations and community websites. Wikipedia, for example, uses a knowledge and discovery-based model that involves collecting information gathering and the subsequent creation of a collective resource. Another form of crowdsourcing is undertaken by review or suggestion sites, such as Yelp, where the crowd offers information and recommendations for restaurants or businesses based on their personal experiences.
The basic principle of crowdsourcing is that a collective effort is more efficient than a singular one. Another defining characteristic of the collective process is the Internet. Due to its reach, speed and limited barriers of entry, the Internet is vital for crowdsourcing to truly flourish.