Crowdsourcing is the attainment of information from the general public via the Internet in order to solve a challenge or dilemma. For example, in March 2014, the website Tomnod crowdsourced satellite images online to see if anyone in the general public could find oil or wreckage from Malaysian Airlines flight 370.
Granted, crowdsourcing goes way back—so far back, that it wasn't even called crowdsourcing back then. The term "crowdsourcing" was first used by Wired magazine in 2005 (Safire, 2009). However, for centuries, contests have been sponsored by governments and other professional bodies, asking the general public to solve puzzles or provide solutions to dilemmas in exchange for a prize or recognition. So they were doing crowdsourcing before it was cool.
Crowdsourcing has several advantages in psychological research:
- Less expensive than traditional research
- Data collected from a wider range of the population
- Quicker data collection
A study by Ranard, et al. (2014) found that health-related studies used four different types of crowdsourcing tasks: