Contests as a way to engage crowds

“ Crowds, research shows, are energized by intrinsic motivations—such as the desire to learn—that are most likely to come into play when people decide to themselves what problems to attack. […] Crowds are often more cost–effective per output or per worker than traditional company solutions. […] The most straightforward way to engage a crowd is to create a contest. Contests have cracked some of the toughest scientific and technological challenges in history, including the search for a way to determine longitude at sea. […] Running a contest is akin to running a series of independent experiments in which, ideally, we can see some variation in outcomes. Therefore, contests are most useful for problems that would benefit from experimentation and multiple solutions. […] Contests are also useful for solving design problems in which creativity and subjectivity influence the evaluation of solutions. […] Collaborative communities work best when participants can accumulate and recombine ideas, sharing information freely. ”

Kevin Boudreau and Karim Lakhani in "Using the crowd as an innovation partner", Harvard Business Review, 2013