Common Pitfalls in Crowdsourcing: What Not to Do

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Curious about crowdsourcing but hesitant to take on the risk of a public engagement project? In this webinar we'll discuss how to design a good project that avoids creating unnecessary work for you and your volunteers, considers where the output of the project will end up, balances the trade-offs in quality control, and avoids de-motivating your volunteers. Ben and Sara have helped organizations crowdsource for over a decade and have lots of stories to tell and lessons learned the hard way.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

Identify common problems in crowdsourcing
Design projects to avoid pitfalls
Describe the balancing act in crowdsourcing projects and how to navigate trade-offs


Ben Brumfield is the founder of FromThePage. In 2005, he began developing one of the first web-based manuscript transcription systems. Released as the open-source tool FromThePage, it has since been used by libraries, museums, and universities to transcribe literary drafts, military diaries, herpetology field notes, and punk rock fanzines. He has written and presented on crowdsourced manuscript transcription for over a decade. He received a B.A. in Computer Science and Linguistics from Rice University. Since its creation in 2005, the community on FromThePage has transcribed more than 1,000,000 pages from universities, museums, and archives. Today, FromThePage works with institutions from all over the globe. Harvard, Stanford, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the state archives of Alabama, North Carolina, and Maryland are just a few institutions that have used our software to engage the public and enhance their collections.

Sara Brumfield is a software engineer and entrepreneur. She co-founded FromThePage, a crowdsourced transcription platform that allows institutions to share documents for transcription. Prior to founding FromThePage, she spent 17 years as a software engineer with IBM, inventing or co-inventing eight patents. She has a BA in Computer Science and the Study of Women and Gender from Rice University.

State library and/or archives agency; Network/consortia; Public library; Academic library: 4 year and graduate; Museum; Academic library: 2 year; Government library; Archives; Historical Society / Site; Special collections
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