Though it may seem like a product of the Internet, crowdsourcing has been around for ages.
Take, for example, an experiment run by The New York Times in 1896, when the newspaper decided it was time to replace its famous motto, "All the News That's Fit to Print."
The Times asked its readers to send in their ideas and promised $100 to the person who came up with the best new slogan. That was a ton of money back then—enough to buy more than 600 pounds of coffee or hundreds of dress shirts. They received thousands of postcards with suggestions. Many entries rhymed ("We use all news fit to peruse") and fixated on the newspaper as a "pure" or "clean" "family paper." There were also plenty of metaphors ("The Wheat of News Threshed of Chaff") and at least one acrostic:
The Times wrote that it had received entries from nearly every state in the union—there were 45 of them in 1896—and singled out entries from women. Many contestants "wholly ignored the request for a motto or phrase of only ten words of less," the Times wrote. Some of the other ideas that readers sent:
In the end, the Times awarded the prize to D.M. Redfield of New Haven, Connecticut, for his slogan, "All the world's news, but not a school for scandal." But the newspaper decided to keep its original motto in place.
"It is a very good motto for a newspaper," The Times wrote of Redfield's winning words, "and if The Times did not already possess one which it thinks better, Mr. Redfield's phrase would doubtless be accepted and put in use."
In defending the decision to stick with the motto they had: "It arouses curiosity, fixes attention, provokes discussion. The grammar of the phrase, we may add, is all right, rock-ribbed, ancient, and sanctioned by the best usage of the English language."