A Look at Crowdopolis: James Rubinstein of eBay on Crowdsourcing

During the last few years, crowdsourcing has gained both its proponents and its critics. To weed out the good from the bad, the folks at DailyCrowdsource.com are hosting their one-day event, Crowdopolis, on July 19, 2012. They were kind enough to connect ReveNews with several speakers from the event. Today’s Q&A comes from James Rubinstein of PM Search Metrics, eBay.

1. How do you assess whether a project makes sense or not for crowdsourcing?

Understanding if a job is good as a crowdsourcing task is a multifaceted problem. How soon do you need data? What type of task is it? How much data do you need? Is this going to be an ongoing task? Will the work be constant or intermittent? How much worker expertise do you need?

There are many questions you need to answer because it isn’t just about understanding if the task is good for crowdsourcing – lots of jobs are good for crowdsourcing – but if other sources might work better. Internal testing, outsourcing, surveys, and other methods can be ‘competitors’ to crowdsourcing, so you need to account for a lot of variables before deciding if the job is the right ‘fit’ for the crowd.

2. Quality control is a big part of successful crowdsourcing. What’s the one thing people most often overlook in quality control?

Training. Expertise. It’s hard to fake knowledge about an esoteric topic (this is what makes Quora successful). That’s fine where you want the crowd to give you insights that replicate a more general sense of “user,” but what happens when you are asking the difference between a Weber or and EMPI carburetor for your ’69 VW beetle? You could train your workers about these issues, or find people who already know what’s up. Either takes time and money, but can be important factors in getting the ‘right’ answer to your question.

3. When working on a project, what are some best practices for managing relationships with vendors/micro-taskers?

The number one thing with vendor and worker management is: know what you want! If you don’t know what you want or need from your vendor or worker, then they’ll give you what they think you want, which isn’t necessarily what you really want. Be clear about your desires from the moment you engage with your partners. Set clear expectations and what is the recourse if they don’t follow through. What are the rewards for delivery? Be clear on what you want, and people will deliver it.

4. Why should someone attend Crowdopolis?

Because it’ll be awesome! Seriously, though, you should come to Crowdopolis because there is a great mix of industry types from vendors and consumers of crowd data. That’ll give you great insight into how to improve your crowd-functions from both sides of the firewall.

About Britt Raybould

Britt Raybould has a passion for telling stories and she specializes in helping companies figure out how to tell their own stories. Through her firm, Write Bold, she shows companies how storytelling can define them, both to their customers and within their industry. When she remembers to, Britt blogs on her personal sites at bold-words.com and brittraybould.com. You can find Britt on Twitter @britter.

Twitter: britter

One Response to A Look at Crowdopolis: James Rubinstein of eBay on Crowdsourcing

  1. Crowdsourcing expertise can only be gained through proper training and experience. Getting the right professional to handle quality control for this kind of domain is important because of the sheer number of stakeholders involved.