In October 2006, Netflix, the movie rental company, announced that it would pay $1 million to the contestant who could improve the movie recommendations made by Netflix’s internal software, Cinematch, by at least 10 percent. In other words, the company wanted recommendations that were at least 10 percent closer to the preferences of its customers, as measured by their own ratings.
(Cinematch analyzes each customer’s film-viewing habits and recommends other movies that the customer might enjoy. More accurate recommendations increase Netflix’s appeal to its audience.)
…successful [crowdsourcing] projects are typically hybrids of ideas flowing from a decentralized crowd and a hierarchy winnowing and making decisions. In Linux’s case, anyone can submit code, but Linus Torvalds and a few lieutenants decide what code will be included in the operating system…”