Oct 01

Where to get ML training data: StageZero vs. crowdsourcing marketplaces

Crowdsourcing marketplaces have become a popular method for collecting machine learning (ML) training data. While these platforms can be an affordable, quick, and relatively simple way to get data, they do have a few drawbacks. Crowdsourcing marketplaces may not work if you want high-quality datasets delivered in your preferred format or if you are looking for a process with access to support. See how crowdsourcing marketplaces compare with StageZero to fulfill your data needs.

What is a crowdsourcing marketplace?

A crowdsourcing marketplace is an online platform where businesses can submit various human intelligence tasks to a globally distributed workforce. Such marketplaces are widely used in ML for data collection, labeling, or annotation.

Who is StageZero?

StageZero is a data vendor providing various data-related services such as sourcing, labeling, and annotation. We can source real and synthetic data in 40 different languages with the help of 10 million users from around the globe. Annotations can be provided to your own collected data or the data we source for you.

Crowdsourcing model with a finger pointing at network of humans

How crowdsourcing marketplaces and StageZero compare

As you choose your data provider, consider aspects such as data format, instructions, support, pricing, and quality control. If you are, for example, developing a chatbot or a voice assistant, you want to evaluate your speech and text needs as well. Below we compare crowdsourcing marketplaces and StageZero in all these aspects.

Data format

Crowdsourcing marketplaces: One of the practical things to consider as you look for a data vendor is a data format. There are many different data formats in artificial intelligence (AI) development, and each company or platform has a preference. Crowdsourcing platforms typically use a proprietary data format, so you will need to convert your data to fit the format during submission and retrieval.

The process will require programming knowledge because the necessary utterances, topics, and other information will have to be submitted to a crowdsourcing platform through a web interface or an API. This means you will have to learn how to format data and use the API to parse data back and forth, which can take hours, if not days, of work.

StageZero: StageZero supports any data format you might need. There is no need to convert your data to fit our systems. Whatever data format you’re using, we’ll be able to accommodate it.

Instructions to users

Crowdsourcing marketplaces: To get relevant datasets or ensure proper data labeling, you must provide user instructions. The better the instructions, the better the results. If you choose to fulfill your data needs with a crowdsourcing marketplace, the instructions are all on you, which can be challenging if you are not familiar with the process. You might unintentionally give incomplete or ambiguous instructions, affecting performance and causing faulty results.

StageZero: With StageZero, you can submit the instructions for your data needs independently, or we can help you structure them to ensure a desirable outcome. For example, let us say your industry is banking, and you need speech data for a use case in customer service. We can help you formulate instructions that can deliver better results and advice on which topics you would need to cover (losing a bank card, forgetting a password, etc.).

Data validation

Crowdsourcing marketplaces: Generally, crowdsourcing marketplaces do not have built-in functionality to validate most data types. You have to process the retrieved data independently, and since datasets can be extensive, this can be a demanding undertaking. The cost of your data project can quickly explode because of the extra work you will need to do after you get the data back.

StageZero: You will not need to do any data processing yourself. We agree on which standard to follow, suggest a quality validation method, deliver the data in your preferred format, and you can start feeding it into your AI models right away.  

soundwaves coming from a person talking to their phone using voice assistant

Speech and text data

Crowdsourcing marketplaces: Crowdsourcing marketplaces can be limited when it comes to speech and text data. This means that even to be able to collect or annotate speech using crowdsourcing platforms, you will have to build your own components on top of their service. You can collect data, but validating and correcting the data is up to you. In addition, you will have limited access to languages other than English. 

StageZero: StageZero's services were built to support speech and Natural Language Processing (NLP) cases from day one. We collect and annotate such data without any additional work required from you. You provide us with specifications, and we return the validated data.

Read more: Collecting data for NLP models: what you need to be aware of


Crowdsourcing marketplaces: With crowdsourcing platforms, you typically choose your own price as there is no standard pricing (unless a minimum fee is specified). However, there is a risk that you will over or underpay. If you set the price too low, you risk not getting responses or only those of poor quality. Unreliable datasets will force you to look for new users and repeat the process, leading to unpredictable costs and delays.

StageZero: Our pricing is based on the number of data points you require and varies depending on complexity. We source and label audio, text, and handwriting data, and you will know the price before the project starts.


Crowdsourcing marketplaces: Crowdsourcing platforms usually work as fully automated systems, allowing you to submit tasks and get your data without human interference. It speeds things up but also means that if you run into problems, it is up to you to solve them via customer service or community forums.

StageZero: With StageZero, you will be assigned a dedicated team to understand your needs and get the required data and quality. Our goal is to remove your data handling pain.

StageZero team working together at office with laptops

Quality control

Crowdsourcing marketplaces: The success of your AI model largely depends on the quality of its training data. Crowdsourcing platforms may have a rating system for their contributors, although this does not always guarantee quality. Such platforms lack integrated steps to provide the data verification and validation for more complex tasks such as speech and NLP.

If you want to make sure everything is done correctly, you have to dive into the datasets, sometimes extremely large datasets, yourself. You can always send the data back to the platform for verification, but this requires additional time, money, and processing overhead.

StageZero: We have a built-in process for getting an inter-annotator agreement, so each data point processed is validated by at least three people. One person provides the speech or text for the topic, and then our technology sends it to three others; they check the data if it is correct or not; if all three agree, it is accepted.

Ready to kickstart your AI project?

Got more questions? Or maybe you are fully ready to kickstart your AI project with StageZero? We are happy to arrange a quick call or a meeting.

Get in touch, and we’ll assign a team to understand your needs.

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