Server Fault is a free crowdsourced question and answer site that caters to system admins and IT professionals. The site is maintained by its members, much like Wikipedia, and combines the best of Wiki, blogs, forums, and social bookmarking sites. It was started by Kyle Brandt, the one and only Server Fault team member, and has four site moderators. Including Brandt and the moderators, there are 30,762 members (and that doesn’t include anonymous users)!
As anyone who uses social media networks (like Twitter and Facebook) knows, sometimes the data can be overwhelming. It streams in with thousands of updates a day, inundating the user with information. The importance of ensuring the information is accurate is of utmost importance when it applies to rescue workers and aid workers during a natural disaster, like the earthquake that struck Haiti in January of this year. Workers there used Ushahidi, (a term that means “testimony” in Swahili) – a platform that was developed in 2008 to gather crowdsourced info via email, SMS, and Twitter/Facebook posts during a crisis or other major event. There is now a startup news service called Swift Riverthat picks through and filters all that information from multiple sources and can help verify the data, so the user doesn’t have to. It was designed to work with Ushahidi, but has uses beyond that.
Mixing business with pleasure was generally considered a taboo, however thanks to Mat Fogarty, CEO of Crowdcast, the rules may have changed. Inspired by his days working for gaming giant Electronic Arts, Fogarty developed an efficient crowdsourcing tool providing accurate information that blends the business of crowdsourcing with all the fun and hi-jinx of online gambling, complete with currency. Crowdcast is essentially based on Business Intelligence (BI) techniques designed primarily to locate and analyze business data such as sales revenue by department, costs, and turnover. Once collated, BI then makes available historical, current, and predictive analysis of any business operations.
The Threadless t-shirt company started out as a high school project over ten years ago by owner Jake Nickell. He never intended it to make money, or to evolve into a highly-successful online business, but it did. Originally, all Nickell wanted was a cool online place to hang out, with the added bonus of making some cool threads. Threadless turned into such a successful site, it now takes 75 people to run it and Nickell is considered a pioneer in the crowdsourcing arena. His company was using the power of the people a good four years before the term “crowdsourcing” was even created.
Using Wikipedia or other architecture sites to collect enough information about a building of interest, is quite often time consuming. It really takes time and the accuracy of the facts is unknown. With the emergence of OpenBuildings, now architecture geeks can freely access a great deal of valuable information regarding building statistics.
While many crowdsourcing platforms are target and goal specific, Google’s latest acquisition, Aardvark boasts it can find the perfect answer to your question on any topic. It was initially designed as a social search engine, the social networks’ equivalent to Ask.com. As a crowdsourcing tool however Aardvark is ideal since it is accessible through the web, (There’s an iPhone app) has an easy registration process, and can even be linked to your Facebook profile.
Social networking sites nowadays are becoming excellent places for people to find their new jobs. For example, on Twitter, many users are taking advantages of its open characteristic to use the network for job hunting purposes. Everyday, millions of announcements of job vacancies are posted and seen on Twitter, giving countless opportunities. This demonstration may show a trend to come where crowdsourcing could be another popular tool to find new jobs.
Crowdsourcing has proven to be more than just tapping the crowd for viewpoints, ideas, and marketing products. After the violence in Kenya that erupted following a controversial re-election of the country’s incumbent President, Mwai Kibaki, resulted in 1500 people being killed, crowdsourcing was used to play a pivotal role in crisis information management. Ushahidi, the Swahili word for “testimony,” is a site managed by volunteers that allows citizens and journalists to map incidents of violence and voter intimidation during an election. Anyone with a laptop, PC, or mobile phone can upload or access this information and pass it on to the relevant authorities and security organisations.
CloudCrowd, launched in October 2009, is a crowdsourcing company that uses the Facebook platform to offer on-demand labor services. Using Facebook to gather potential workers (students, professionals, and stay-at-home parents among them), CloudCrowd takes complex jobs and breaks them down into much smaller parts, which is then crowdsourced to tens of thousands of its workers. Because CloudCrowd runs on Facebook, it has access to jobs – and workers – from all across the globe. Since its inception, CloudCrowd has completed over 1,500,000 tasks for multiple employers.
Spiceworks IT is a free, advertisement supported, helpdesk and IT Management software that allows small and medium sized businesses to effectively monitor and report on any software and hardware problems within their IT networks. Spiceworks currently provides this service for over 34 million workers, and manages 56 million computers and devices for businesses around the world. The unique feature of Spiceworks is the inclusion of a crowdsourcing feature known as SpiceLists, to enable users to review, rank and share practices in IT as well as an assortment of products and services.