Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

CrowdFlower Heads Downmarket With New Photo Moderation Tools

CrowdFlower, the crowdsourcing platform, is striking out in a new direction under the leadership of co-founder Lukas Biewald, who recently took back the CEO role from a hired executive.

Crowdflower went through its own image moderation tool to find inoffensive images for this sample screenshot.

CrowdFlower traditionally charges customers at least $10,000 per month to do little tasks on a big scale — like fill out their e-commerce product listings or catalog online media content. Its customers include eBay, Microsoft and Toshiba.

Now, a new CrowdFlower self-serve photo moderation tool will screen image uploads for objectionable content, starting at $100 per month. Each image will be screened by three to 10 people (the photos that moderators disagree about get put back into the system), with results delivered in a few minutes.

The so-called “Real Time Foto Moderator” is already being used by the flirting app Skout, and existing customers will be moved to the lower pricing.

“I retook the CEO job because I had a new idea for the company,” Biewald told me. “It always bothered me that we served only the biggest customers.”

CrowdFlower already moderates photo uploads for user-generated content sites, at a rate of three million photos per month. The photo moderation tool is just the first self-serve CrowdFlower application, with others planned, Biewald said, adding that looking for objectionable images is “not our most common task — but the simplest and easiest to explain.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik