Crowdsourcing, Advantages and Disadvantages

By looking at the projects MapSwipe, MapGive, and TranscribeBentham, one can learn the benefits and drawbacks of developing and implementing a DH crowdsourced project. The major benefit is the ability to utilize many people’s services without having to compensate them. The tasks, especially for MapSwipe, are not too complicated and pretty simple to complete; hence, a user can get much done in a short amount of time. Another benefit of crowdsourced projects is the fact that mistakes in analyzing the information can be easily found because so many people are looking at the subject matter at any given time. Also, if a user is unable to read/view a piece of information, another user can help out with the interpretation. For instance, in the app MapSwipe, people can double-tap on a certain tile if they are unsure about its contents; this double-tap makes sure that the tile is viewed by other users so that its contents can be identified and verified. Also, in the on-line mapping project MapGive, tiles of maps must be verified and checked by other users before being accepted as ‘done.’

In some cases, however, the very same advantages can turn into disadvantages. The fact that people work on the project for free is advantageous for the project’s developers only as long as the information submitted by these people is correct. However, precisely because they are working for free, users might not do their best job, and developers may end up with a lot of poor-quality entries. Moreover, going through all these faulty submissions can be very arduous and time-costly. In addition, developers end up being completely depending on users’ willingness to collaborate, but what if not a lot of people want to participate in the project for free? In some of these cases, it might end up being easier for projects to hire experts who can perform a better and more efficient job.

Ian Nish, Isabella Bossa