Pros, Cons of Crowdsourcing Like Threadless

Threadless has, of course, built its burgeoning empire on what used to just be a buzzword: crowdsourcing.

And as anyone who's been around any number of years on this earth knows, what has worked once for someone else isn't a guarantee of success if the same steps are taken again by someone else.

After all, it's old news. But that doesn't mean crowdsourcing is over and done with, necessarily.

In a recent BusinessWeek point-counterpoint, crowdsourcing's potential is broken down into pros and cons. The consensus seems to be that a conservative approach is best, and while some feel that Threadless' whole-hog embrace of crowdsourcing is yielding stagnating creativity in its shirts (which is a subjective stance to take, to be sure) there is wisdom in not just letting crowdsourcing run rampant.

For example: In 2006, GM had a contest to let people mash-up Chevy Tahoe ads. The result? Pranksters delivered advertisements with lines like "It's Global Warming Time."

On the upside, the piece points out, in this digital age, "crowdsourcing helps a company tap into an outside base of knowledge, overcome the in-company bias and technical specificity of the field, and get results." In laymen's terms: You can get real people's real opinions faster than ever. And that can only be a good thing.

Read the full debate over at BusinessWeek.

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