crowdsourcing which according to the online encyclopedia is a a neologistic compound of "crowd" and "outsourcing" for the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an "open call" to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.
Think of American Idol, where the public decide who they want to be their next big pop star rather than selected music executives making the pick. It's empowering and gives people ownership on their musical judgments.
Crowdsourcing is a trend that many companies are getting into. Major brands in almost all industries such as news media, manufacturing, fashion and design have somehow jumped into the bandwagon of getting the public part of their business decisions. But crowdsourcing in my opinion is a touchy topic because success on it really depends on when and how it’s used. Though it has its benefits such as what ww saw the Haiti earthquake, at times it is a bad idea and will most likely produce results that are more problematic to the brand. See here for examples.
It depends on the quality of the crowd. I think the more democratic or limitless the process is the more it is vulnerable to unreliable or malicious content. Remember President Obama’s first online Town Hall meeting hijacked by marijuana enthusiast?
There are plenty of information and ideas that can be made available and opened to the public for contributions. But it will be hard to know which one comes from a reliable source and which one’s not. It is, after all, quality of information that we should be after and not quantity. Because at the end of the day, its not what's trendiest the public follows but what it trusts.