Why crowdsourcing is rubbish : "We know it when we see it"

Tom Albrighton at abc copywriting has put up a well researched piece explaining all the faults he sees in crowdsourcing. Beyond the obvious "can we do the font from that one, the headline from that one, and the picture from that one?" thing we've all run into when we present three pieces to more than five people.

Thanks to social media and the web, the ritual of presenting options to the client has mutated into a monstrous and dangerous new form: completely crowdsourced creative.

Instead of badgering their creative agency into producing one good design and four pointless alternatives, the client can just go straight to 99 designs and get 500 rubbish designs to choose from – at a fraction of the cost.

Since the designers involved are paid little or nothing, their submissions are severely compromised in terms of commitment, time and ideas. So instead of buying one great idea, the client gets lots of weak ones through which they can enact their own taste and control-freakery. Crowdsourcing design means buying lots of rubbish little dogs and barking rubbishly yourself as well.

The mindset behind all this is puzzling. I guess we could sum it up something like this: ‘I know I can’t do this myself, so I need someone more creative to do it. And although I trust them to produce the ideas, I don’t trust them to choose the best one – I’ve got to do that. And even though I wouldn’t have any idea how to proceed when faced with a blank page, I’ll know the right answer when I see it.’

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (2)

  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Crowdsourcing in wikipedia, youtube, yelp = good. Crowdsourcing curated by an ad agency (a la Doritos) = so so
    Crowdsourcing advertising by a client and crowsourcing logos for $50 bucks and "exposure" = shit

    Jun 30, 2011
  • fairuse's picture

    I took the Brent "waste messages survey" out of curiosity. Recycling in my area is in its 2nd overhaul and I have seen some bad advertising by the county. Does that make me an expert? Hell no! But I know what I would like to see on a postcard the county mails to me when they change their "message".

    The Brent survey was quackery at best. Limited answers; true or false style. Improbable visuals; font mix, font color and a lack of graphics. I am not sure what the survey was trying to measure. Could it be they were just measuring the number of people who completed it. A painful exercise.

    The ABC Copywriting article was enlightening. Thanks.

    Jul 03, 2011