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A crowd is a large and definable group of people considered together. It it moves together in a certain direction, it becomes a swarm: a swarm is a moving crowd.



Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a "crowd"), through an open call. It means delegating a task to a large diffuse group, usually without monetary compensation.

The Wisdom of Crowds

A crowd can act wise and display a form of collective intelligence. An old saying says: "a problem shared is a problem halved". James Surowiecki named four requirements for "wise groups" in his book "The Wisdom of Crowds": diversity of opinion, independence, decentralization and aggregation. According to Surowiecki, these key criteria separate wise crowds from irrational ones:

Criteria Description
Diversity of opinion Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
Independence People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of those around them.
Decentralization People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
Aggregation Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.

Large fish shoals for example should fulfill them: "many eyes" lead to a diversity of opinion about potential threats, the opinion of the "selfish" fishes about a threat is not determined by the opinions of those around them, and they are decentralized by default.


  • Patrick R. Laughlin, Group Problem Solving, Princeton University Press, 2011
  • James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, Doubleday, 2004


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