2,526 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
What do the world’s social media users think about crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing.org partnered with KL Communications to find out.
Together we tried to get a sense of how the world is feeling about the different forms of crowdsourcing using something called sentiment analysis. You've probably seen stories in the news recently that try to gauge the mood of certain groups or entire social networks like Twitter using sentiment analysis.
The practice is also called opinion mining, a term that might paint a brighter picture of what the process is all about. “Sentiment analysis,” explains Wikipedia, “aims to determine the attitude of a speaker or a writer with respect to some topic or the overall contextual polarity of a document."
We decided to use a similar approach to find out how deeply the different types of crowdsourcing are penetrating the collective cultural zeitgeist and the types of attitudes people are taking towards them.
Using a tool called Netbase, which indexes and analyzes millions of conversations across the web, Crowdsourcing.org and KLC analyzed data for the top 15 sites generating the most buzz for each of the five main crowdsourcing categories in Crowdsourcing.org’s Directory: cloud labor, crowd creativity, crowdfunding, distributed knowledge and open innovation (definitions available below). This report examines a year of data — timeframe: November 1, 2010 to October 31, 2011 — garnered from Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, news sites and consumer reviews.
Distributed knowledge is by far the most popular category: its nearly nine million mentions surpass references to the second most popular category, crowd creativity, more than threefold. To clarify, mentions didn’t reference the actual term “distributed knowledge” but one of the 15 most popular distributed knowledge organizations (#1: Wikipedia, #2: Digg, #3: Reddit, etc.). Social media users mentioned crowd creativity top sites (#1: Soundcloud, #2: DeviantART, #3: Polyvore, etc.) a total of 2,848,645 times, greatly exceeding the third most discussed category, crowdfunding (#1: Kickstarter, #2: KIVA, #3 IndieGoGo, etc.), which had 749,385 mentions for its top selected sites. Open innovation (#1: Pepsi Refresh Project, #2: StockTwits, #3: X Prize, etc.) and cloud labor (#1: Fiverr, #2: Amazon Mechanical Turk, #3: Solvate, etc.) round out the group in the fourth and fifth positions, with 192,494 and 168,454 mentions respectively, again for the 15 most popular sites.
While online mentions of distributed knowledge websites like Wikipedia (already on its second reference in this article alone) might not necessarily be part of an academic discussion of crowdsourcing — they could just as easily be a reference to a Wikipedia article (third mention) about actor Alex Winter of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure fame — this only further demonstrates how deeply embedded within our culture this form of crowdsourcing has become. There is a loud and consistent buzz about distributed knowledge platforms, even among those who may not even be familiar with the term.
At this point, it seems likely that a Facebook post or tweet referencing a crowdfunding or cloud labor platform is much more likely to effectively bring the actual concept of crowdsourcing into the social limelight. However, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo — and to some extent cloud labor platforms like Amazon's Mechanical Turk — could soon change all this. Kickstarter and KIVA in particular seem to be on a trajectory toward achieving the kind of recognition within the collective consciousness that Wikipedia (fourth reference) currently enjoys.
Although the set of sites analyzed in the distributed knowledge category generated the most buzz, the posts that reference them are consistently the most pessimistic: over 27% of opinionated comments about distributed knowledge are negative in nature. Conversely, comments referencing open innovation and crowdfunding sites carry the highest positive sentiment of the bunch — 91.4% and 91.1% respectively — while posts about crowd creativity and cloud labor platforms fall somewhere in the middle.
With a potential crowdfund investing framework currently awaiting review in the U.S. Senate, social media users’ highly positive perception of crowdfunding is particularly noteworthy. The people seem to approve of this transformative fundraising model, as does the U.S. House of Representatives, which passed Representative McHenry’s (R-NC) H.R. 2930 bill with broad support. We shall see how the more staid Senate deliberates on the matter in the coming weeks.
As any half-decent media interpreter knows, “absolute buzz” is only one part of the equation. What’s trending, also referred to as “normalized buzz,” is equally significant. During the November 2010 to October 2011 timeframe, references to crowd creativity and cloud labor skyrocketed. Distributed knowledge, the most popular category in terms of absolute buzz, saw very slight gains over the course of the year. Crowdfunding references stayed relatively steady, while discussion of open innovation platforms plummeted throughout 2011.
The above data is only a taste of what’s to come from this collaboration between Crowdsourcing.org and KL Communications. In the coming weeks, we’ll post in-depth data and analysis reviewing the top sites in each of the five categories. Stay tuned.
Cloud Labor: Leveraging of a distributed virtual labor pool, available on-demand to fulfill a range of tasks from simple to complex. Crowdsourcing is used to connect labor demand and supply. Virtual workers perform activities that range from simple to specialized tasks.
Crowd Creativity: Tapping of creative talent pools to design and develop original art, media or content. Crowdsourcing is used to tap into online communities of thousands of creatives to develop original products and concepts, including photography, advertising, film, video production, graphic design, apparel, consumer goods and branding concepts.
Crowdfunding: Financial contributions from online investors, sponsors or donors to fund for-profit or non-profit initiatives or enterprises. Crowdfunding is an approach to raising capital for new projects and businesses by soliciting contributions from a large number of stakeholders following three types of models: (1) Donations, Philanthropy and Sponsorship where there is no expected financial return, (2) Lending and (3) Investment in exchange for equity, profit or revenue sharing.
Distributed Knowledge: Development of knowledge assets or information resources from a distributed pool of contributors. Crowdsourcing is used to develop, aggregate, and share knowledge and information through open Q&A, user-generated knowledge systems, news, citizen journalism and forecasting.
Open Innovation: Use of sources outside of the entity or group to generate, develop and implement ideas. In a world of widely distributed knowledge, where the boundaries between a firm and its environment have become more permeable, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research and ideas to maintain a competitive advantage.