By: Okethcwinyu Harrison
Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or funding, usually online, from a crowd of people. The word is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers. Journalism crowdsourcing is the act of specifically inviting a group of people to participate in a reporting task such as newsgathering, data collection, or analysis—through a targeted, open call for input; personal experiences; documents; or other contributions.
- Facebook: facebook is a social platform that is available to almost everyone and easy to use by anyone. By the first quarter of 2016, facebook had 1.65 billion users around the globe. Facebook has its users spread out almost all around the world. Radios, television, publications and any form of media use facebook to post and crowdsource from people who have liked their pages and friends of those who like their pages. Facebook has been important in people contributing to breaking and developing news stories. Examples are places hit by catastrophe like earthquake or mudslide. Media houses post to people to provide new angles, new updates and any other thing related to the event. This is because these people are at the exact place where the event is unfolding and are capable of providing current and credible information in time as the media house arranges to get their reporters to go there. The credibility is in the fact that they can take photos and post. This leads to collective gathering and reporting of news.
- Emails: Email is a formal way of communication between people and especially between people and offices. It is mostly for formal communication. Media houses gather their readers’, viewers’, listeners’ emails through requesting for them or when they subscribe for their products. Media houses keep these email addresses in their directories. Publications also include their emails while television stations display their email on the screen. Media houses crowdsource using email especially when they need personal accounts from people and need to keep it a little private until published. This includes crowdsourcing on life challenges, love stories, life experiences or any touching story. Media houses could ask people to share with them what they have gone through or what they know. This helps in collective generation of content.
- LinkedIn: This has been in existence but it has recently undergone a site redesign and some new functionality was added. Media houses can post a question to LinkedIn and tap the wisdom of the site’s millions of users. LinkedIn is a formal platform that harbors people with skills and expertise in different fields of knowledge that the world requires. This means media houses can use it to tap specialized expertise when the media has a knowledge gap that is hard to feel with standard reporting techniques. Media houses also use LinkedIn when they need expertise knowledge on things they are writing or reporting or are interested in covering. This can range from mechanics or rare unique species of things to any other complicated thing. A critical latest example was when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) landed massive troves of leaked documents that were too big for one news organization to analyze alone, they tapped members around the world to leverage their knowledge of local individuals and entities whose names appeared in the data.
- SMS or Text messages: this is also a common platform for crowdsourcing since many people around the world have phones, they are easy to use and cheap. It is among the most used. One way it is used is in conducting opinion polls. Media houses can have a list of things they want to cover but might need its readers, viewer’s or listener’s views on what to prioritize and cover first. Daily monitor and other publications in Uganda plus television stations also ask poll questions to know their reader’s or viewer’s stand point on certain issues of concern. The most common is when they ask to respond with a ‘Yes’ or No’ and they give instructions like type ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and send to 8008. At times these text message services are free of charge to enable people participate.
- Quora: Quora is a new crowdsourcing site that harnesses the people in your social networks as well as others. It is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. The firm was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010. Quora aggregates questions and answers to topics. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users’ answers. You ask questions to the group and members answer. But the neat thing about Quora is that all of the questions and answers are then put into categories and archived, so that the conversations become a body of content that can later be researched and reused.
- Aardvark: Aardvark is a social search engine, where you can post questions to the people in your social network (and the people in your friends’ networks). Aardvark uses a series of algorithms to determine the best person to answer your question, and relays your query. Within minutes, you’ll get an answer. Aardvark impressed researchers and search companies so much that it was acquired by Google for $50 million in 2011. Users submitted questions via the Aardvark website, email or instant messenger and Aardvark identified and facilitated a live chat or email conversation with one or more topic experts in the asker’s extended social network. Aardvark was used for asking subjective questions for which human judgment or recommendation was desired. It was also used extensively for technical support questions. Users could also review question and answer history and other settings on the Aardvark website.
The writer is a final year student of Journalism and Communication at Makerere Unversity.