Classification of Crowdsourcing Approaches

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Typology of Crowdsourcing

Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva: [1]

"In literature two basic approaches to classify crowdsourcing can be identified:

1) based on the type of task that is crowdsourced. A representative classification in this context is the classification provided by Howe (2008), and

2) based on the initiator of crowdsourcing. A representative classification according to this criterion is given by (Gassmann et. al. 2009). Both classifications are summarized below."

Classification based on task

Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva:

"The classification of Howe will be taken as starting point to relate also classification of other authors. By applying the criteria, type of task outsourced to the crowd, Howe (2008) classifies crowdsourcing in three main categories:

Crowdsourcing Idea Game

Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva:

· The first category is the idea game which is essentially just a massive call for ideas.

Example: A broadly published example of an idea market is the IBM Jam (for a detailed description see (Bjelland & Wood 2008). In 2006 IBM initiated a global idea jam related to the question how to best use and efficiently commercialize existing technological developments in the company. The global ‘Innovation Jam’ took place in two three-day phases in 2006. It involved 150,000 IBM employees, family members, business partners, clients (from 67 companies) and university researchers. Participants from 104 countries jammed and conversations continued 24 hours a day. In its press releases IBM described the Innovation Jam as “the largest online brainstorming session ever”. The discussion and sourcing for ideas was pre-structured in six major categories of emerging technologies and each of the categories comprised several subtopics. The task of the crowd was to brainstorm about potential new ways how technology developed at IBM might be applied by IBM to enhance existing or develop new products. More than 46,000 ideas were posted. Phase Two of the Innovation Jam was devoted to ‘refining’ ideas from the first phase. The Innovation Jam uncovered and mobilized support for substantial new ways of using IBM technology.

This kind of crowdsourcing is considered as ‘Selective Crowdsourcing’ by (Schenk & Guittard 2011). The company initiating the process of crowdsourcing has to choose one solution from all solutions provided by the crowd. Selective crowdsourcing in general implies a winner takes it all mechanism where only the creator of the winning solution is rewarded." (

Crowdsourced Problem Solving

Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva:

· "The second form is the problem solving or Crowd Casting Network in which someone with the problem broadcasts it to a large undefined network of potential solvers.

For example, the shoe company ‘Fluevog’ is crowdsourcing designs for new shoes.

Another example is the online platform InnoCentive on which companies can source for solutions for scientific problems.

These two crowdsourcing examples are also Selective Crowdsourcing. However, according to (Schenk & Guittard 2011), this type of crowdsourcing can also be ‘integrative’ or consolidating crowdsourcing.

The goal of Integrative Crowdsourcing is to create a complete solution by integrating complementary contributions from the crowd. An important aspect of integrative crowdsourcing is the definition of clear interfaces among single complementary contributions." (

Prediction Markets

Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva:

· "The third category is the prediction market or information market in which investors from the crowd buy and sell futures related to some expected outcome such as the presidential election or the Oscar for the best picture (Howe, 2006). The prediction market is applied for questions related to assessment of future scenarios (for an extensive literature review on prediction markets see also Tziralis and Tatsiopoulos, 2007).

One example of a prediction market is the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX). HSX is an online simulation, where registered users can trade in movie stocks. “Participants start with a total of 2 million so-called Hollywood dollars, and can manage their portfolio by strategically buying and selling stocks” (Elberse & Jehoshua Eliashberg 2003). HSX participants trade in movie stocks based on their information about the star power, trailers or other advertising products (e.g. press releases) in the prerelease period. Single movie stocks and ranking lists of price changes on the HSX are an explicit aggregation of the opinions of the involved HSX participants and opinion leaders. The HSX ranking lists are an important predictor of the first weekend and overall box-office sales of a movie." (

Crowdsourcing typology by initiator

Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva:

The second representative classification of crowdsourcing approaches is provided by (Gassmann et. al. 2010) and is based on potential initiators as classification criteria of the crowdsourcing activities. According to these criteria, the authors identify five different crowdsourcing approaches:

1. Crowdsourcing initiated and supported by intermediary platforms.

(Gassmann et. al. 2010) further divide this category of crowdsourcing in the following subcategories: intermediary platforms for research and development, for marketing and design, for freelancers and for idea-generation.

2. User initiated crowdsourcing

which is further subdivided in user websites and open source software communities.

3. Company initiated platforms

which are platforms that are created and maintained by companies. Such platforms are typically integrated within the companies’ online activities. They are further divided in the following subcategories: product ideas and problem solutions as well as branding and design.

4. Idea market places

An example for this type of crowdsourcing is the company Spreadshirt which allows users to design their own spreadshirt designs and produces only those spreadshirts that are mostly liked by the participating customers. Other such similar examples are Threadless or CafePress.

5. Public crowdsourcing initiatives

that means initiatives that are similar to the previously mentioned ones but which are initiated by public authorities. One example mentioned by the authors (Gassmann et. al. 2010) is the ideageneration campaign, which was initiated by the Irish government in order to collect ideas from the population regarding the question how to achieve higher economic growth."