This paper draws upon the experience of several years of running a multi-application crowdsourcing platform, as well as a longitudinal evaluation of participant profiles, motivations and behaviour, to argue that heritage crowdsourcing cannot straightforwardly be considered a democratising form of cultural participation. While we agree that crowdsourcing helps expand public engagement with state-funded activities at Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums, we also note that, the involved public cohort is not radically different in socio-demographic make-up to the one that physically visits such institutions, being for example financially better-off with high levels of formal education. In shedding light on issues of participation and cultural citizenship, through a both theoretically and empirically rich discussion, this paper casts light on the current impact of heritage crowdsourcing, in terms of both its strengths and weaknesses. The study will also be useful for cultural heritage policy and practice, museum management and curatorship to potentially guide the choices and strategies of funders and organisations alike.
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