Moving the crowd at iStockphoto: The composition of the crowd and motivations for participation in a crowdsourcing application

Daren C. Brabham


Crowdsourcing is an online, distributed problem solving and production model already in use by for-profit organizations such as Threadless, iStockphoto, and InnoCentive. Speculation in Weblogs and wisdom of crowds theory assumes a diverse crowd engaged in crowdsourcing labor. Furthermore, and as crowdsourcing is in some ways similar to open source software production, prior research suggests that individuals in the crowd likely participate in crowdsourcing ventures to gain peer recognition and to develop creative skills. The present study tests these assumptions in the crowdsourcing community at iStockphoto. An online survey obtained 651 responses from iStockers to demographic and motivations questions. Results indicate that the desire to make money, develop individual skills, and to have fun were the strongest motivators for participation at iStockphoto, and that the crowd at iStockphoto is quite homogenous and elite. These data have implications for future research into crowdsourcing, particularly regarding notions of professionalism and investment in online communities.


crowdsourcing; iStockphoto; wisdom of crowds; motivations

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