Verifying Information in Challenging Environments for Citizen Monitors

Before you use crowdsourcing to collect information, you need to ask yourself what are the advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourcing?

Advantages

There are many benefits to crowdsourcing because it can help you gather more information in shorter periods of time and with great ease. You do not need to invest a lot of money to engage in crowdsourcing; SMS or the Internet are great resources to use, and there is no need for paid monitors. With crowdsourcing, you also do not need to be physically present to get information; other people will gather it for you. This gives you more freedom of mobility since you do not have to be in multiple places at once to collect information. You also have access to a much broader network of information. The quantity and variety of information you are exposed to increases with crowdsourcing since you are connecting with more people more frequently.

Disadvantages

Although crowdsourcing is an effective way to get information, there are drawbacks to using this method. The first is the anonymity involved in crowdsourcing: you will often get information from a source you do not know. This can be risky in an environment like Iran’s where the government monitors outlets such as social media and can potentially take advantage of this method to spread false information. This can create questions about the reliability of the source, requiring you to use more resources, do more research and spend more time verifying information. With crowdsourcing you also do not know who is and who is not on the ground, so it is important to remember the difference between a primary and secondary source of when presenting information.

Advantages Disadvantages
Inexpensive Anonymous
More mobility Risk of false information
More quantity of information Question of reliability
More variety of information More resource and time
Access to more sources of information Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Test Your Knowledge

On a piece of paper, write down some of the benefits of crowdsourcing information, as well as what to be cautious of when using it.