2,524 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Eva Missling, founder of 12designer.com. Missling takes a page out of Chauncey Gardiner's book and ponders how to apply gardening principles to creative crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing has evolved significantly over the last several years. It started as a promising tool and has developed into a proven method. In its early days, crowdsourcing was more of a system for quickly solving specific problems. You need talent or knowledge? Broadcast your project to the masses. You need a solution? You can get dozens, so just choose the best one.
This structure worked for certain problems – and it still does. Crowdsourcing is no longer attracting just tech companies, however, but also SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs. As it becomes more popular, some new considerations come into the equation.
In 2009, I founded the creative crowdsourcing platform 12designer.com. Today, it is the market leader for creative crowdsourcing in Europe. We operate in five languages (English, German, Spanish, Italian, and French), and it quickly became apparent that all communities are radically different from one another. And we’re not just talking about languages. Each one has its own cultural approaches, working methods, and habits. This was our first lesson: every difference has to be respected. Only that can ensure that each solution is tailored for a specific, local need.
Then came the second lesson: every difference has to be respected and protected. Only that environment can produce the finest results. Protecting the differences means creating a special ambiance to make sure that the Three I’s (Interaction, Inspiration, Improvement) of crowdsourcing can grow successfully.
Ideas need to grow. But to do that, they need help; they need to be gardened. How does this work in a crowdsourced environment?
Cultivate creativity. This is what I call “clearing the weeds.” That’s the base of crowdsourcing, its starting principle. In its early stages, crowdsourcing acted as a giant brainstorming effort, where quantity was the goal. That is okay, but it’s not enough. You need to implement qualitative measures that ensure that ideas are properly vetted, weeding out the useless ones, and cultivate the ones that seem promising.
Fertilize good ideas. Creative crowdsourcing is about creativity. Creativity is about personality. Personality is about ego. And ego has to be fed – in a healthy way, of course. That can only be done by acknowledging a creative’s work, as widely as that term can be applied. A client may give a five-star rating to a proposal, but a public acknowledgement is better. As a platform, we can give out special prizes to a creative. But if we write a dedicated blog post interviewing that person, his/her commitment to the client, the platform, and the working method will deepen.
Protect the best ideas and creatives. Developing a community means keeping track of the most committed and talented designers. If you know those individuals, you can always choose the most user-friendly solution if a problem arises – you’ll know who you want to keep and who you can afford to get rid of. To know your community, you need to know who provides the best solutions to your customers.
When I look at an online community as a garden, it's easy for me to see both effort and reward. The effort comes in when building a place where ideas can grow, and the reward comes from looking at the creative results coming out of it.
Will this garden model take creative crowdsourcing a step further? Only time will tell. But I’m confident I’ll keep watering our idea tree!