One of the most successful crowdsourcing initiatives, chances are that you’ve come across GasBuddy in the past. It is a crowd-updated collection of area gas prices, and perhaps the most accessible concept for the common person.
What is it?
In exchange for ‘points’, volunteers on GasBuddy’s sites post individually-confirmed gas prices. While these points can be later be redeemed for entries to contest drawing, the primary incentive is the pride of achievement goals. Usernames are accompanied by car icons representing their point level, and consecutive days of contribution are tracked (once one reaches 90 consecutive days of contributing, for example, their icon receives speed lines).
GasBuddy is separated into 178 local websites, usually with the url of (Your city)GasPrices.com. My urban area, for example, is found at http://hamiltongasprices.com.
I recently created a course on Crowdsourcing for an Ontario publisher, and GasBuddy is one of the prominant tools covered. In working through the course, the client shared a story that, for me, embodies most of the benefits of crowdsourcing. In the past, when gas prices would go up, a reporter would sit down at his desk with a phone book, and call stations one by one to ask their prices. With one simple idea, GasBuddy improves upon this in every way, overcoming the time, material, and proximity restraints journalists work within. In addition the individual time and effort required, the single journalist’s effort cannot be sustained on a regular basis, and is already outdated by the time it goes to print. GasBuddy’s listings on the other hand, are continuous and nearly real-time. Also, eyewitness reports (the only type that GasBuddy rules allow) are more reliable than telephone calls.