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Crowdsourcing Platforms

by Kevin Dodds

Crowdsourcing platforms give users a suite of tools to administer crowdsourced projects and access an on-demand pool of cloud labor. Social media sentiment analysis, image metadata appending, and data gathering tasks are routinely crowdsourced. Up-front investments are minimal. Other advantages include super-fast turnaround times and vast scalability. Currently, the primary crowdsourcing platforms are CrowdFlower, WorkFusion, and Alegion.

CrowdFlower

Founded as Dolores Labs in 2007 in San Francisco by Lukas Biewald and Chris Van Pelt, CrowdFlower was initially designed to make using Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) more user-friendly, although in 2014 CrowdFlower dropped all connections to AMT. It’s solely a crowd-based platform, and does not integrate complex machine automation into business processes like WorkFusion does.

While featuring more attractive off-the-shelf templates than WorkFusion, Crowdflower is less user-friendly when it comes to creating anything-you-can-dream-of templates. Rather than basic HTML, Crowdflower uses its own syntax, CML (Crowdsourcing Markup Language). It’s similar to standard HTML, but takes some experience to master. CrowdFlower’s worker control systems are somewhat weak, but the company boasts a responsive and interactive customer service feature for its users.

WorkFusion

Founded in 2011 by Max Yankelevich and Andrew Volkov, New York City-based WorkFusion is a business process automation platform that combines artificial intelligence (AI) training, robotic process automation (RPA), and smart process automation (SPA) with machine automation tools. The platform lets managers direct tasks to both internal and public crowds. It also offers many pre-built “machines” and integrated APIs that can handle automated tasks like audio file transcription, address validation, and data extraction.

The WorkFusion platform also offers an array of basic crowdsourcing templates for new users. As users become more experienced on the platform, they can develop their own templates using a combination of WYSIWYG and “hard coding” functions. This flexibility is arguably WorkFusion’s strongest feature. It’s fairly user-friendly, although there is a definite learning curve, but in the end the power of the platform rests in the user’s hands.

WorkFusion includes robust worker quality control systems that allow the user to attract, vet, and cull a large labor group down to the “best of the best” for a specific task over time. Through this platform, users can access workers from AMT as well as other cloud labor services.

Alegion

Founded in 2011 by Nathaniel Gates and Joel Simpson, Austin-based Alegion is the most recent entry into the crowdsourcing platform market. It’s focused on providing specialized services to help their clients process a variety of data work. Alegion uses three sources of labor, including their own private labor pool, the private labor pools of their customers, and AMT. Alegion doesn’t allow end users to design their own templates and process their own work. Instead, the company designs, administers, and monitors their crowd work as a behind-the-wall service to their clients.

Examples of crowd-based Alegion specialties include content moderation, data categorization, and content tagging. The company is not focused on being “everything to everyone,” and instead concentrates on large, high-value clients with consistent, recurring data needs.

When deciding which platform is best for a given task, Information Evolution, which uses all three platforms, tries to match the customer’s use case and the types of labor required to choose the appropriate platform. Drop us a line if you’re curious about whether a project on your front burner is appropriate for crowdsourcing.

posted by Shyamali Ghosh on March 27, 2017

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