There has been a lot of buzz about Crowdsourcing of late. According to Wikipedia, “Crowdsourcing is an online, distributed problem solving and production model. Problems are broadcast to an unknown group of solvers via the Web in the form of an open call for solutions.” Ironically the best example of Crowdsourcing is Wikipedia, a communal project to generate, protect and promote knowledge.
At this point I think the crowd has become overhyped. There are clearly some areas where it is useful. But for speciality services the crowd will never work. Fred Wilson recently shared his desire for a Crowdsourced service to edit his blog. The problem: bloggers are notoriously bad at spelling and grammar. Crowd solution: allow the picky grammarians to fix your blog for you. Sounds cool, but in my opinion the crowd can’t fix this issue.
The crowd not only brings in the grammar experts, but the jokesters, pranksters, and worst of all the advertisers. Imagine the havoc that would be wrecked if major blogs allowed crowd edits. The Huffington Post would be desecrated by right wing fanatics, TMZ would be dotted with gossip about fans instead of celebs and Tech Crunch would be overrun by self promoting startups.
Facebook had a Crowd-induced problem this week when it’s Advertising page title momentarily changed from “Advertising” to “Lying”. Apparently, this wasn’t the work of hackers. Instead, it was the fault of a software Facebook uses, a software which allows the Crowd to translate its interface by country or region.