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Crowdsourced Data Collection

The buzz about crowdsourcing continues to get louder every day. The crowd can now, it seems, handle a range of tasks including journalism, design, and even filmmaking.

If you’ve been asked to look into crowdsourcing as a way to stretch your budget and haven’t tried it before, however, you’ve probably asked yourself whether the results of crowdsourced projects are close enough in terms of quality to justify the pursuit of the cost-savings they can potentially represent. Put another way: “Are the results of crowdsourced projects good enough for consumers with low expectations, but not up to snuff for discerning professional audiences?”

The short answer is that, while not all crowdsourced projects are created equal, projects for b-to-b audiences do typically require an experienced professional to manage the process and perform quality control on the results, even if the crowd did the “heavy lifting.” Crowdsourcing is indeed a very effective tool for collecting certain types of data, but it takes an experienced manager to determine which particular data points in a data collection project are good candidates for crowdsourcing. It also takes know-how to draft the worker guidelines and set up the checks and balances needed to yield quality data. Without this, a project can require so much quality control work that any cost savings from crowdsourcing are wiped out. Done right, the process can yield a perfect data set collected at a very low price. Done wrong, it’s easy to end up with a data set of dubious quality that needs long and expensive clean-up to get it up to minimally acceptable professional quality standards.

Do you have a data project you’re interested in crowdsourcing? Contact IEI for an evaluation and a ten-page white paper on our crowdsourcing methodologies. Both are free of charge but available to qualified inquiries only.

posted by Shyamali Ghosh on May 7, 2012

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