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Crowdsourcing Characteristics

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Cost Scale: Your digital team may have free online tools available. You will need to invest your own time in developing your campaign and analysing responses from the public.  Advanced capabilities and analyses may be upwards of £2000 per year.

Time Scale: 1 to 6 months

Depth Breadth Reach Engagement Level
Low Medium High


The depth of crowdsourcing responses is influenced by the framing of the issue at hand. Some platforms require that participants contextualise their responses by categorizing them, for example into “for” and “against”. Crowdsourcing campaigns tend to seek feedback on a single question, and the responses they elicit are often brief comments.  

Crowdsourcing can give policy makers an insight into the opinions of participants about the issue at hand, providing a snap shot of views at a particular moment in time. It is possible to structure a campaign in a way that allows participants to collaborate to develop ideas further through follow-up questions and repeat engagement, increasing the depth of this tool.


Crowdsourcing can elicit a wide range of ideas. Participants tend to respond with the first thing that springs to mind, in a way that is similar to a brainstorm. While this can lead to creative suggestions, this also often leads to responses that are beyond the scope of your policy issues. A key consideration before undertaking an Idea sourcing exercise is framing your question in a way that is likely to lead to useful suggestions.

If framed effectively, participants may think outside of normal constraints, and ideas can be iteratively developed. More complex campaigns can encourage online discussion between policy makers and participants about responses and give policy makers the chance to ask follow-up questions. Dialogic idea sourcing campaigns can create communities within which ideas are compared and debated.


The open participation format and online setting means crowdsourcing has the potential to involve large numbers of participants. Soliciting a large number of contributions helps to ensure policy makers have a range of diverse ideas  

Engagement Level

The engagement level of crowdsourcing campaigns is influenced by the platform used and the framing. Smaller crowdsourcing programs allow participant contributions to be supported or discussed and developed by the participant community. As crowdsourcing focuses on ideas and solutions, some participant contributions have the potential to have a direct influence on policy or practice if implemented.