Crowdsourcing Journalism: An Experiment

A few months ago, in the middle of an expense scandal in Britain, The Guardian did something revolutionary. The newspaper asked its readers to help its reporters wade through 458,832 pages of documents, released by the British Parliament. If a document looked like it contained "significant expenses data," the reader could flag it.

Some pages will be covering letters, or claim forms for office stationery. But somewhere in here is the receipt for a duck island. And who knows what else may turn up. If you find something which you think needs further attention, simply hit the button marked "investigate this!" and we'll take a closer look.

So, how did it go?

The Nieman Journalism Lab has published an assessment on its website. According to Michael Andersen, it was "spectacular." (So far, 23,818 people have reviewed 209,376 pages.)

Journalism has been crowdsourced before, but it's the scale of the Guardian's project — 170,000 documents reviewed in the first 80 hours, thanks to a visitor participation rate of 56 percent — that's breathtaking.

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