How to… use crowdsourcing as a research tool

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Introduction

Image: A crowd in Paris, copyright James Cridland
A crowd in Paris, copyright James Cridland, http://James.Cridland.net

“Crowds disturb, escalate and then threaten the social order…They come to the fore in contexts of grievance, protest and rising uncertainty. Crowds are agents of change.” (Wexler, 2011, p. 12)

So wrote one sociologist when reflecting on the ways his discipline has viewed the crowd in the past, contrasted with the new perception of the crowd as “a form of collective intelligence that solves problems”.

This latter phenomenon is known as crowdsourcing and is the subject of this article.