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Is the Answer to Your Question "Crowdsourcing"?

I’ve been a gamer since I opened the big orange and gray Nintendo box during Christmas of ’86, and ever since I’ve owned any non-portable system Nintendo has put out. But the time has come for me to get a non-Mario based gaming system. I’ve never owned a Playstation, or an X-Box, (or even a Sega Genesis or Dreamcast), so I really have no opinion on which system to get.

So I did what anyone does: I read reviews. But those really didn’t help; they didn’t really tell me anything useful. So I decided to crowdsouce the answer to my problem. I asked every friend I have that played games, I asked Facebook and Twitter. I asked anyone I would find which system would be what I wanted it to be. And I found my answer in the crowd: if you want to play with your friends online, get a 360. If you don’t care about that or want a blu-ray player, get a PS3.

So, what’s crowdsourcing? It’s taking the overwhelming number of people we can connect with these days and turning them into a resource.

When you’re asking the crowd for an opinion, it’s really similar to asking the world’s largest focus group. Want to find the best Mexican restaurant in LA? Ask twitter. Want to know whether people prefer your old site or your new site? Put up a voting page (probably using surveymonkey) and let the internet tell you. If you’re really interested, you can even get basic demographics from the people answering you.

But for other projects, crowdsourcing can still work. One of the podcasts I listen to just had their new logo designed by the crowd (though chosen by the hosts). Bands have let their fans choose what songs will go on an album. The crowd has redesigned websites. And in probably the most amazing crowdsourcing achievement of all time, the first Oxford English Dictionary was crowdsourced with over 6 million submissions over 70 years (an amazingly fast undertaking for the late 1800s and early 1900s).

Now when I need questions answered (and I do, is a Scooba worth it? Amazon offers mixed reviews, but I’m sick of mopping my apartment. Where's my mopping robot?), I’ll turn to the crowd. And maybe you can too.