What’s the use of crowdsourcing?

Alexandra Eveleigh, University College London, UK

Most crowdsourcing projects in the cultural heritage domain are designed to meet organisational objectives for improved documentation or outreach, but lack a defined use-case for the results. There has been much research interest in how to motivate participants to contribute their time and effort to such initiatives, but little attention has been paid to what happens after that point: who actually uses crowdsourced data and what do they use it for? What scaffolding might be required to help users evaluate the reliability of contributed information, and establish trust in participants? Does the addition of crowdsourced information to institutional documentation systems which are already known to be confusing to navigate help or hinder information-seeking? What licensing issues are relevant in the context of the re-use of contributed data?

This lightening talk will present the results of PhD research which put such questions to a range of current crowdsourcing contributors and historical researchers. The talk will ask whether contributed data can ever be acceptable outside of the community that created it, and what role the expert professional might play in promoting the usability of crowdsourced information. The aim is to spark discussion on the implications that the user perspective might hold for the definition and design of future crowdsourcing projects.

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