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Amazon's mechanical turk plays matchmaker to people looking for distributed help solving problems or answering questions and other people willing to do said work for a fee.

need to add discussion of ethics of compensation...!


Some jobs are too big for the immediate group of engaged collaborators to manage on their own. The community will benefit if the interface provides a way to break a large project into smaller pieces and engage and give incentives to a wider group of people (or "crowd") to tackle those smaller pieces.


Use this pattern when you wish to enable your active core community members to engage with the wider set of people participating in your social environment and get their help accomplishing ambitious projects that would not be possible with fewer people involved.


Provide a method for splitting up a project into individual tasks so that each task may be advertised individually. Also, provide a venue for announcing crowdsourced projects.

Give community members a way to "shop for," review, and claim individual task for the project.

At Amazon's mechanical turk, one can easily sign up and start reviewing HITs (human intelligence tasks) before deciding whether to do any of the work for the offered pay.

Provide an upload interface or submission form to enable participants to contribute their completed work (assuming the work isn't accomplished directly in your interface).

When designing a t-shirt for Threadless, you can volunteer to have others critique your design for you, and then iterate the design based on the feedback.

Anyone can sign up to start reviewing existing designs at Threadless.

Keep track of tasks that have been claimed but not completed by their deadline, so that they may be returned to the general pool and reassigned.

Ideally, offer a dashboard view for management of the project.

Where appropriate, incorporate a mechanism for compensation for the participants.

Tasks for Amazon's mechanical turk all come with price tags so it's easy to decide if you're willing to do the work for the payment offered.

Optionally, incorporate a voting tool or reputation system for determining the best contributions (as with user-generated translation systems).


Crowdsourcing breaks large jobs into pieces that can be tackled with a much lower commitment threshold, taking advantage of the loose ties in social networks.

More Examples

  • UGT (user generated translation) efforts at Second Life and Facebook

Related Patterns

As Seen On

Sources / Similar Patterns in Other Libraries / Further Reading