Crowdsourcing is a form of working made possible by the internet. It means getting work or funding from a large group of people, usually from the online community. The basic idea is to use the skills, ideas and participation of a large group of people to help build products or content. People can work flexibly from home anywhere in the world, as long as they can deliver the goods.
While crowdsourcing has been around for a while, it’s been growing rapidly over the last few years. The size of the industry is hard to calculate, but estimates suggest that the market is worth billions of dollars now, with crowdfunding alone estimated to be worth $2.8 billion in 2012.
But there are problems. There is next to no regulation, pay can be very low, and workers have few rights or recourse when things go wrong. Some people might be making good money by working through crowdsourcing, while others face exploitation. However, there are signs that things are changing, with workers starting to organise.