Google has been doing pretty well by paying nothing for a large portion of content in its index, apart from legal fees arising from the occasional copyright lawsuit.
In keeping with that tradition, Google's YouTube in September asked its users to create videos for the site's Help Center. More traditional companies would incur a cost creating user support content.
"We know you know how to make informative, creative videos -- the site's full of them," said a YouTube blog post. "We're asking you to use your skills to create videos that we can embed in our Help Center. If selected, your video will be seen by many of the 1 million+ users who visit the Help Center each day!"
Having found free labor to its liking, YouTube on Thursday came back for more.
"Based on such great success last month, we are opening the floodgates for Round 2!" a YouTube blog post explained. "We're asking you again to use your skills to create videos that we can embed in our Help Center."
YouTube is looking for users willing to make a video to explain the following topics: Editing my video; Customizing channels; Contact lists; Transferring from camera to computer; File formats; Embedding videos; Can't hear audio; Clear cache and cookies; Using QuickCapture; and Director, Musician, Comedian, Guru, and Reporter accounts.
A common term for leveraging the labor of site users is "crowdsourcing." It's a model that made Wikipedia one of the most widely read resources on the Internet.
Silicon Valley tech gossip blog Valleywag has suggested an alternative term: "serfdom." Another word for "crowdsourcing" is often "online contest."
The concept of "crowdsourcing," as reporter Kevin Friedl noted in an article posted on NewAssignment.Net, is not without its detractors.
"Some in the open source movement see the term as a perversion of open source and all of its optimistic egalitarianism," he wrote. " 'Crowdsourcing' -- with its apparent contempt for individual contributors and its unpleasant connotations of outsourcing -- strikes these commentators as little more than corporate doublespeak for 'now you can work for free.' "
Or as YouTube puts it, "Grab a camera and show off your helpful community spirit!"