Crowdsourcing for the Common Man


Our “Common Man” blog series is committed to bringing you the most easy-to-digest information on translation industry topics and technologies. Previously, we addressed CMS platforms, API, connectors, proxy solutions, and SEO marketing. Don’t you feel so much smarter now?

This week, we will take a look at a relatively new concept – crowdsourcing – and how it ultimately ties into the translation industry.

What is Crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing, as previously mentioned, is a relatively new concept that has emerged in the past decade. Crowdsourcing is a portmanteau of the words “crowd” and “outsourcing,” which is a pretty accurate description of what the service is. Crowdsourcing is the act of soliciting a group of people (usually online) to help accomplish a task.

You may have heard the term “crowdfunding” quite frequently in the last few years. Crowdfunding (think Kickstarter) is the act of fundraising by requesting a small amount of money per person from a large amount of people. Crowdsourcing operates on a similar methodology to crowdfunding, so it may help to draw parallels between the two.

The basic premise of crowdsourcing is this: a company has a big project or a large amount of work to get accomplished, but does not have the workforce (or the desire to pay their workforce) to do the necessary work. Crowdsourcing allows companies to tap into a large pool of qualified individuals not on their normal payroll and assign each individual a portion of work. That way, the work gets done on time and (as we will discuss) at a cost-effective rate. 

Why Use Crowdsourcing?

Much like any other service, there are benefits and drawbacks to using crowdsourcing. Whether or not crowdsourcing is a good option for you really depends on your specific budget and needs.

The benefits of crowdsourcing include:

  • Cost efficiency. One of crowdsourcing’s big selling points is the cost. Because crowd workers are not regular employees (most are freelancers), they can often be paid a smaller wage than regular workers. This can lead to substantial savings for the company.
  • Timeliness. With more hands on a project, it’s more feasible to reach deadlines which may otherwise seem daunting.
  • Large amount of people = some really good output. The larger the crowd, the greater the chance that one person in that crowd has the capability to produce some worthwhile content.

The drawbacks of crowdsourcing include:

  • Potential for decreased quality. Even though crowd workers are vetted, they are often not experts in certain arenas. In addition, having many people working on the same project can lead to some overall consistency and quality issues.
  • Potential for increased cost. If you are worried that crowd ideas or deliverables may turn out semi- or mal-formed, it may cost extra to evaluate their work.

Again, if you require a large amount of work to be done for a reasonable price, crowdsourcing might be the best option for your company. However, if money is no object and your top priority is quality, perhaps you should look elsewhere for your needs.

Lionbridge offers a crowdsourcing solution called Enterprise Crowdsourcing which can help businesses with work-intensive projects that may necessitate many “bodies”. Our crowd, which consists of over 140,000 individuals in over 100 countries, can assist with translation, testing, data management, and several other jobs. To learn more, please visit our website