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Business - Written by on Thursday, January 24, 2008 1:50 - 3 Comments

Crowdsourcing at Facebook

Last week in this post I described how the owner of Plenty of Fish.com is able to earn $10 M per year by leveraging the sites users to perform the tedious labor required to operate such a site. This posed the question of how much profit can be made before donators demand a piece of the pie: Quite a bit it seems as Facebook has recently announced its intention of leveraging its users – without compensation – to translate its site into various languages.

The ‘translation’ application has already been downloaded by several thousand users from networks such as “Madrid” or “Berlin” who will work alongside professional translators hired by Facebook. Users of this application can translate words and phrases from a list that Facebook provides or may choose to search through the site and translate the words Facebook has highlighted. 


This example provides some insight into how great of profits such a crowdsourced effort can bring in before donators demand compensation. Although Facebook doesn’t report its annual earnings, this approximation estimates its annual net income to be roughly $50 M. What’s more perplexing is that this ‘translation’ application doesn’t seem to be very entertaining and yet it is still attracting thousands of users. Imagine what an application that was fun and served an underlying purpose at the same time could do. In fact, that is exactly what Google did with Google Image Labeler that lets players compete with each other to label and tag images to improve the quality of Google’s image search results. 

The possibilities would only be limited by creativity but one thing is certain – there will not be a shortage of eager volunteers ready to put in the hours. However, this begs the question – why are these users performing such tedious work for free? Do they really see Facebook as a worthy social cause? Or are they simply that bored?


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Anittah Patrick
Jan 24, 2008 10:24

My sense is that these volunteers view Facebook the same way people view their neighborhood. It’s where they hang out with their friends. It’s their community.

In a sense, these volunteer hours are community service points. It’s like cleaning up sidewalks or hosting a bake sale to raise money for your marching band.

Tedious? Sure. But a lot of people do tedious work for free. For example, submitting this comment just took up 54 seconds of my time :)

Hagai Fleiman
Jan 25, 2008 21:28

good point anittah but surely these users arent so naive as to the amount of profits Facebook is earning off them – although they do use the service for free so perhaps they do feel grateful

Dotrzeć do najlepszych treści: Facebook, Twitter i friendsourcing | Historia i Media
Aug 18, 2009 13:19

[...] – ich ekonomiczny potencjał może być dość wymierny (o czym pisze na Wikinomics w notce Crowdsourcing at Facebook Hagai [...]

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