Lisa Dillon (2000) makes some interesting points, especially when she highlights the fact that much of the digitization of census material would be impossible without volunteers, simply because of the sheer volume of work. She notes that there are more and more retirees from a certain background who are interested in volunteer work, but these same people have raised expectations when it comes to the work itself. A retired professional or teacher is looking to contribute to a project in a way that is fulfilling not just in the end result but also in the task itself.
It is a pleasant prospect for the would-be history researcher that there is an army of suitably qualified enthusiastic volunteers prepared to do the prerequisite shovel and spade work of data capture without which even the sharpest of algorithms is pointless.
Errors of data entry will creep in, for a number of reasons, but Dillon suggests that the real errors come at the genesis during the framing of the survey. If framed appropriately, the output can be most valuable.
There are lots of genealogy projects underway as we speak, instigated and carried out by enthusiastic amateurs. If history social scientists want to benefit from these efforts, they need to get out into the community, and inform the general public how framing their efforts in a specific way will help research, and even society in general.
Dillon, Lisa Y. INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS, LOCAL VOLUNTEERS AND LOTS OF DATA: THE 1881 CANADIAN CENSUS PROJECT. History & Computing 12, no. 2 (June 2000): 163.