Defining Crowdsourcing: Our first task


Our “How-to Guide to Crowdsourcing” is coming together nicely, thank you, at least now that we’ve defined what crowdsourcing is.

How are we defining crowdsourcing?   For purposes of our study, we are focusing on instances where news organizations (or individual journalists) make a specific call-out for information, examples, sources, or rich content.   We are not including unsolicited comments on stories,  or the harvesting of information, photos or videos from social media.

Thus, we also ruled out:

  • Mechanical Turk and similar platforms
  • Crowdfunding
  • Crisis mapping and humanitarian uses of crowd labor
  • Zooniverse and other “citizen science” efforts that also have crowdsourcing aspects, but are related to journalism tangentially.

What we’ve discovered, in a nutshell:

There are some amazing crowdsourcing projects going on out there in the world of journalism. crowdsourced its series on the quality of health care. crowdsourced its series on the quality of health care.

ProPublica comes to the fore, with its Patient Safety community, its Free the Files and Red Cross work, and more.

Also doing exemplary work: WNYC public radio in New York City, where John Keefe, Brian Lehrer, Megan Ryan, Paige Cowett, Ariana Tobin, Elaine Chen and so many others are part of the news team that’s made engagement a fine art with Cicada Tracker, “Clock Your Sleep,” and many more.

The Guardian has long been a leader in crowdsourcing, so expect to hear more about its efforts, especially newer initiatives like The Counted.

There are innovative projects happening outside of the US: in Europe, journalists are banding together to do cross-border reporting and Australia’s national broadcasting corporation is investing heavily in audience engagement efforts.

And you can expect to learn about some groundbreaking new and not-so-new interesting uses of crowdsourcing, including (Yellr, Hearken, and Food52).

We’re also crowdsourcing our research in as many ways as possible.

This is such a large topic, we know we could have included so much,  but we have to keep remembering that we’re researching and writing for a journalism audience. At the end of this project, we hope, the news industry will have a guide that  focuses on best practices, case studies, and examples of what’s worked (and what hasn’t).

We’re working against a deadline here, though we’re still eager to hear from you if you have examples that we need to know about. Here’s our Surveymonkey poll. Please fill it out!