Does crowdsourcing play a role in your decisions?

By Tom Musbach

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The easy access and connectedness of the Internet has made crowdsourcing a big trend for both businesses and consumers.

The concept promotes the wisdom of the crowd -- especially an online crowd -- for obtaining services and ideas or soliciting contributions. Recent success of the let's-turn-"Veronica Mars"-into-a-movie effort on Kickstarter, which exceeded its $2 million fundraising goal in less than 10 hours, shows the power of crowdsourcing.

But for every successful crowdsourcing site like Kickstarter and Quora, there are has-beens like, which let rock fans collaborate with their favorite artists.

The downside: qualification is lacking

Sometimes the crowd isn't right. This presents a big risk if you're trying to crowdsource a challenge or problem in your everyday life.

It's one thing to solicit a theme for your wedding or a remedy for procrastinating. It's quite another to trust your hip pain or car trouble to collective advice from friends and strangers.

The advice may be free, but sorting through it all may require loads of time. And the majority decision may not compare with input from a qualified source.

The upside: a second opinion

On the other hand, many of us do a version of crowdsourcing in our personal lives without really thinking about it.

"People ask for second opinions all the time, even on subjects as personal as health treatments (and not just asking the doctors but also others who have similar experiences)," said Pamela Li, a commentator on the site Social Media Today.

The Internet has made it much easier, after all, to ask for multiple opinions and compare options.

In the end, factors like privacy, time constraints, context, and trust may make the decision for you about whether to crowdsource or not.