Crowdsourcing Saves Lives... OK, Maybe Not

Crowdsourcing Saves Lives … Okay, Maybe Not

•  2 minute read

Not sure how to fix your bike? Need some help funding your next big idea? Crowdsourcing can help you solve your problems and meet your goals.

The first time I had the opportunity to go online, I was seven. It was the late ’90s, and my parents had just bought a Gateway computer. The thing was massive. It dang near took up an entire rectangular folding table.

Not sure how to fix your bike? Need some help funding your next big idea? Crowdsourcing can help you solve your problems and meet your goals.

We had dial-up internet that made a racket when connecting to the outside world. Mom would let each of us get on for 15 minutes a day. Living in rural Nebraska, I was enamored with the idea of connecting with people anywhere on the planet

Back then, the seeds of crowdsourcing were being planted but had not yet bloomed. In fact, the term had yet to be coined. Today, it’s possible to crowdsource almost anything.

It’s important to note the word crowdsourcing has several offshoots: “crowdfunding” and “crowdwisdom” — two pathways to resolve your problems.

Let me explain: Crowdsourcing is the process of soliciting services or ideas from a large group of people. It’s usually done through an online community. Typically, many people contribute a small amount to your end goal, though that goal is not always financial.

I first started crowdsourcing when I was 16. The door handle on my car broke and I wanted to save money by repairing it myself. I Googled “how to fix Mitsubishi Eclipse door handle.” I didn’t find the exact answer I wanted, so I posted the question on an Eclipse enthusiast forum.

Pretty soon, I had dozens of people helping me determine what exactly broke, where to buy parts, and how to fix it. The door handles are hard to replace. But with the help of about 20 people from across the U.S., I got the job done. I got photos of how to fix it, and one member of the group even gave me a good price on a replacement door handle.

At 16, I was hooked on crowdsourcing.

My car was modified, so things broke every once in a while. This drove me back to the forums. I continually sought more help from an amazing online community — the now-defunct Forums were my first foray into crowdsourcing.

Below are a few areas where you can effectively crowdsource:

Sometimes it’s even worth paying for good crowdsourcing.

Examples include access to private Facebook groups or crowdsourcing through a freelance service like Upwork. Or consider paying a copywriter to craft an easy-to-read question you’d like others to answer. Clear questions yield clear answers.

You’ll also need a way to assess the credibility of those who respond. Most websites will post a user’s reputation somewhere near their response. Bad advice is often worse than no advice at all.

I know that we often want to do everything ourselves. But if you want an accomplished life, you’ve got to learn to crowdsource. It’s a hard lesson that I’ve had to learn. I tried fixing the door handle on my car myself for probably 10 hours before hitting the internet. What can I say? I’m stubborn at times.