There used to be a big focus on outsourcing one’s resources to other countries, like China and India, to get a hold of the appropriate skills that are not available locally. Today’s technological age has provided ways in which one can gather information, skills and resources without the geographical hassle of outsourcing and this goes by the familiar name of crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is the practice of gathering ideas, content, information or services from a large group of people, most likely an online community, that shares with others either at no cost at all or at very little cost. Many sites are now available whereby one can gather images, research statistics, professional content, industry-specific staff and more, without having to look very far or to turn to sources that may only provide a small part of what you are looking for at a large cost.
One of the downfalls of crowdsourcing may be that many resources use novices or amateurs, with no professional background. This, however, is counteracted by the fact that many sites are occupied by people who work in a specific industry and dedicate some of their time on forums helping out those who have questions (these people often include retired experts). Crowdsourcing is heavily dependant on how much people are prepared to share and, when they do, if they have the knowledge to back it up.
Instead of turning to forums and outsourcing companies where you run the risk of meeting up with people who do not necessarily have the skills you need, focus on places where people have the resources of their own to back up with that offer as well as who take their free time to do that which they obviously have a passion for. A few of these places include :
uTest is a community where more than 700 000 professional software testers are given the opportunity to apply real-world testing. The tests are done on Web, desktop and mobile applications.
The experts test for functionality (does it serve the purpose it was originally intended for?), security (are there issues with privacy and so forth?), load (is the application suitable for peak traffic and does it degrade under a heavy load?), usability (takes surveys with targeted focus groups and perform usability audits) and localization (is the application saying what it should say? This includes content translations and shipping cost information)
The community provides detailed bug reports, feedback on how the application runs in the real world, a test team that suits your specific needs and a project manager exclusively for your project. It does, unfortunately, come with a price but this will depend on the type of industry you are in, the type of application and what you want the experts to test.
Stack Exchange (http://www.stackexchange.com)
Stack Exchange is a community that hosts approximately a hundred question-and-answer sites. It uses community blogs based on the subject matter at hand as well as providing a real-time chat option. This crowdsourcing site is free and open to everyone who believes they have the necessary expertise.
Answers to questions posted are ranked according to what the majority see as the most correct or useful solution. Questions and answers can be edited by community members which is especially useful when the original author is no longer there to update the information.
Some of the topics covered include game development, mathematics, web applications, photography but by far the most popular community is Stack Overflow which aids programmers with coding issues and the like. It is even recommended by the developer sites of Apple and Amazon for any queries that programmers might have about implementing APIs.
Amazon Mechanical Turk (http://www.mturk.com)
This crowdsourcing site focuses on HITs or Human Intelligence Tasks. People are often led to believe that computers are function better than humans but they are, after all, programmed by humans. There are certain tasks that humans can do better than computers and this is where Mechanical Turk comes in. Tasks that you can take as examples are writing product descriptions or transcribing podcasts.
The tasks described above are small and often do not require much time to complete or implement. Thus the rewards that come with completing these tasks are very little. But the exposure that one gets from accomplishing the tasks outweighs the monetary reward. There are certain tasks that require qualifications but these are qualifications that you can receive when you have performed a certain amount or type of HITs. Also, it depends on whether the results you have given have been of high quality.
This is a marketplace for businesses looking to hire freelancers but who do not want to trawl the job sites. It provides the opportunity for freelancers to sign up and then bid on projects that they find most appealing. These bids are then reviewed by the company that posted the project and they decide whether you are suitable or not. A payment is then set up by the company upon which the completed project is also then approved or disapproved.
The amount of projects current posted run up to and over 4 million with more than 7 million professionals taking part. This site is available for use in many countries including South Africa and with it there is a degree of professional guarantee with no concern of being scammed or not being paid as is the risk freelancers run.
Similar : 99Designs
Idea Bounty (http://www.ideabounty.com)
For the more creative among you there is the crowdsourcing platform Idea Bounty. Big companies ask the community for fresh ideas pertaining to advertising and marketing campaigns, writing and special events.
There is no need to be a specialist or an expert in a particular field, you simply need to have a good idea that the particular company approves of and would like to use. The creative’s idea remains their property until the money is handed over. The bounty is predetermined and this guides how much work you should be doing for that particular project but the payment or bounty cannot be negotiated.
Similar : BountyIt
This crowdsourcing platform focuses more on what monetary contribution those who participate are willing to provide. Kickstarter is a well-known company that has funded more than 35 000 projects since its inception and it is a great initiative for entrepreneurs who may not have the capital to support their passion.
Any ideas for a start-up company are welcomed but it focuses mainly on art, comics, dance, design, fashion, photography, food, music, publishing and technology. This being said charity organization may not raise funds through Kickstarter and people may not pitch fund-my-life projects.
Kickstarter as a company reserves the right to hold back 5% of whatever money is raised for the idea within a set time period. The funds that people put towards any of these potential businesses are only to help them start up and not for the funders to profit from or to keep the company afloat in later years.
Quora is a platform for people to share their first-hand experience on any topic that a user proposes. There are about 250 000 topics to choose from and any person can provide a question that they need answers to. There is also an area where members of the Quora community can blog about topics that they believe they have good knowledge of or possess the appropriate skills.
Codesnipp.it is a platform for programmers and developers with a deep love for coding. It provides the opportunity to follow some of your favourite developers and programmers to gather information on what they are doing and how you can emulate it.
Community members share codes that they have developed and they can ask questions regarding troublesome code.
This initiative provides access to some of the most intelligent people from around the globe and their brilliant ideas. These people provide solutions to big companies’ business, social, policy, scientific and technical challenges.
Various different challenges are presented to what they call “solvers”. They can either be open challenges to which anyone can become privy to and there are also internal challenges that are specifically for company employees. Furthermore one finds the premium challenges that are only open to industry-specific experts that need a certain level of knowledge to participate.
These challenges have large prizes attached to them and the reward can be up to a $1 million for a particularly complex challenge. An example of such a challenge can be the quantitative testing of a certain adhesive’s bonding strength.
Similar : NineSigma