Sci Tech Sep 11, 2015

By Naveen S (M.Sc. Theoretical Computer Science, 2014-2019)
Ever wonder how Oxford dictionary got the meaning of so many words and terms? Or how Wikipedia knows so much about so many things? Or how Quora gives you all those answers? How do they all get that ginormous amount of information? There must be something fishy, right?
Their secret is….sharing! That’s it, sharing. The work is shared among thousands of people. The people need not necessarily be employees, it could be anyone from any part of the world. This is called Crowdsourcing.
It is defined as the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. The term is a combination of the two words crowd and outsourcing.
This technique saves a lot of time and is very efficient since the amount of data received is so high that filtering it out will give the best possible results imaginable. For example, take Wikipedia. Anyone who has an account on Wikipedia can create a Wiki page, edit it or add pictures to it. It seems a bit insecure right? What happens if somebody vandalises it? Now that would be a big problem. But the thing is, if someone is ready to vandalise, there are a lot more to rectify the article. People take it upon themselves to take close watch on a few pages. If the damage would take a while to repair, they put up a note on the page that the article is under construction or something like that.
Crowdsourcing is also being used to get ideas for different projects and problems. Ask what you want to the whole world, and someone will have the right answer for you. Some problems of science and mathematics too have been left in the open for people to solve, like the Millennium Prize problems. Whoever solves any of the problems gets a $1,000,000 cash prize. The important thing is that the problem is solved, paving a way for many studies.
Crowdfunding is one type of crowdsourcing, in which money is raised for a cause or a project, from a crowd of people instead of a single firm or person one at a time. Say you need Rs.1,00,000 for a cause. You raise the issue on an online platform or by offline media, asking willing people to donate Rs.100 each.  Now you just need a thousand people to donate, thus reaching your goal in an efficient way.
Microtasking too, is a type of crowdsourcing. It involves breaking a big job into small pieces and distributing it to the employees, so that each of them does his/her respective job, which can be combined to finish the big one. This is way cheaper and faster compared to other methods.
Crowdsourcing not only brings about efficiency and speed in the tasks to be performed, but also introduces a community concept in the job beingworked on, thus making a strong network of people who can accomplish tasks which are otherwise difficult to proceed with.
Naveen NAVEEN.S (M.Sc. Theoretical Computer Science, 2014-19is a passionate writer who loves  programming and all kinds of music. He is a person who believes one can have many  identities. His real life inspiration is Chinmayi Sripada.
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