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What Is Microlabor?



Utilizing microlabor means putting small tasks or jobs up for bid or out in an open call, (typically using the Internet) to a disparate group of people. These tasks could be jobs to be performed on-site, like odd jobs or errands, or they could be virtual tasks to be done online. Often large data entry projects are divided up into many online "micro tasks" in order to employ this type of labor in which individuals each take on tiny portions of the overall project.

The web-based market for microlabor is similar to crowdsourcing. However, the efforts of those in crowdsourcing is often done without compensation. Microlabor is usually compensated but at often very small amounts. Another difference is that crowdsourcing often utilizes highly skilled works (e.g., software developers), while microlabor jobs are typically low skilled (e.g., errands, data entry).

Related Definitions:

  • Crowdsourcing - Similar to and sometimes used synonymously with microlabor, crowdsourcing often employs volunteer labor.
  • Bid sites - Sites like Elance, where workers bid on projects, are examples of bid sites; the difference between them and microlabor is the pay scale and the complexity of the projects.
  • Independent contractor - Micro laborers are independent contractors, but at the lowest end of the pay scale.
  • BPO - Business process outsourcing, see more about the difference between a BPO and micro labor.
  • Data Entry - Some data entry companies employ microlabor by breaking up large data entry projects into disparate tasks done by a range of people.
  • Outsourcing - Using microlabor is a different type of outsourcing than offshoring or homeshoring.

Similar Terms:

micro workers, micro tasks, micro jobs, crowdsourcing
Alternate Spellings: micro-labor, micro labor

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