I responded to Marco's article as well, and I agree with most of your points (as I did Marco's). But I've experienced both ends of it - as an artist/designer and as a producer working with stifling budgets. From many years of experience, I can say crowdsourcing can't be simply dismissed as having no good qualities.
I see crowdsourcing as a B2B tool, and I think it should stay that way. It needs to be managed. Clients who have gone directly to crowdsourcing sites inevitably come to me for help, and it costs them more in the long run. Clients also rarely understand issue of infringement, and that's another valid rant. It's NOT an ad hoc solution by any means, and no business owner should walk into it blindly.
And Laura makes a very critical point. It is NOT a "professional" choice. I will admit I would NEVER do the same with an accountant. Or a doctor. Or a babysitter. But with design, most clients need to be proselytized before they can be sold. You will generally pay money you don't have to take your kid to the doctor. That is generally not the case with the cover design of your company's collateral folders.
Your comment regarding the personal factor is a major issue too. I WANT to be able to sit down with my designers over coffee, even those who aren't in-house. I want them to be able to chat with my clients. And when necessary I want them to be able to defend their designs.
Not every project has the budget to spend on research and meetings. When someone comes to me with $450 and asks for a website I don't immediately see a skinflint who refuses to pay full price, I see a struggling entrepreneur who doesn't have cash and can't afford a to kick things off in debt. I can't treat them the same as I would a corporate client. I can't even treat them the same way I would the struggling, independent gas station on the corner that has been in business 10 years. But I'm not going to turn them away either just because they don't measure up to my standards, and I'm going to try to give them the best dang $450 website I can.
I can't always do that with my internal designers, any more than you could and remain profitable.
Crowdsourcing is likely not going away, at least not soon. The market has to deal with it. Instead of balking, we've tried to bridle the chaos. With a skilled art director interfacing with it, and by choosing sites that do not make you pay for junk submissions, it's pretty low-risk all things considered. I might also note that you run into similar risks when vetting a new designer. There are more than a few "professionals" out there who are not much more than "wannabes."
Nearly all of our clients who are above the no-capital-startup level use our in-house or associate designers. I highly approve of that. I would love it if I could sign dedicated career artists and designers for every project. I'd love it if every project were a portfolio piece (especially lately), and it would be great if I could submit every project for industry awards.
The fact is there is a market below that point, and there are projects that, as a designer, you would refuse at the prices these business owners are willing to pay. These are people whose alternative is to ask their friend's brother's kid who lives in the basement and used to doodle on his homework (which makes him an artist) to design their brochures. I PROMISE you'll find a better solution from a crowdsourcing site than that. Probably cheaper too.
I DO very much like your article, as well as Marco's, and I appreciate the position you're both coming from. And I agree with the fundamental premise and can fully back up your comments regarding the risks. It isn't for everyone, and certainly not for the average business owner.