Posted by: communicationcloud | October 7, 2011

Crowd camp at the silicon roundabout

So, I spent a fascinating evening at London Silicon Roundabout’s “Crowd Camp” meet-up yesterday, with 4 short talks on the topic of crowdsourcing. Here are some of the things I found out:

Followme.fm

Coming from the point of view of a serial entrepreneur, Martin at followme.fm told us about a site he’ll be launching soon, where start-ups and small businesses will be able to crowd-source the things that are most needed:

  • a team – the JoinMe feature enables people to ask for help from people  with specific skill-sets
  • advice – with MentorMe, users can crowd-source mentoring from people with more experience
  • moneyFundMe lets people raise money by asking for donations from other users

12designer.com

Not yet in the UK, but active in various other European countries, this site makes use of a competition-based process for crowdsourcing creative skills – typically logo design, flyers, and web design. Ralph del Valle described for us how the process works…

  1. The business user specifies the service they want, how much they’ll pay for it, and when they want it by.
  2. Creative specialists decide whether they want to put forward a proposal.
  3. If they want to put forward a proposal, they do so. In this site, a proposal means actually creating a first version of the required deliverable. During this stage, the business user engages with the creative specialist to tweak the work.
  4. The business user picks the proposal they like best, and pay the creative specialist who developed it. The other creative specialists in the bidding process don’t get paid for any of their work on developing solutions.

The site has been operating for 2 years, and is being launched in the UK…

peopleperhour.com

Xenios Thrasyvoulou told us about the model at peopleperhour.com – the oldest business of the evening (founded in 2007), and also the one furthest from the strict definition of “crowdsourcing”.

Here, users  (aournd 200,000 of them at the moment) register their skills and rates, and small businesses who need services like copywriting, book-keeping, logo design or web design search the site for people who have the required skills, and then pick the person who matches their needs.

The company put an emphasis on community, describing themselves as “fanatical about customer service” and a mission statement of aiming “to wow our users by going above and beyond”. Sadly, I didn’t get the opportunity of finding out the detail of how users are involved in the development of the service – though Xenios did show us a photo of a huge wall full of feedback from users via the support team waiting to be implemented by development teams.

Blottr.com

Lastly, Adam Baker from Blottr told us about the growth of this crowd-sourced news service – which he describes as based on an idea born from coverage of the 9/11 attacks in New York, where it took 6 minutes for news networks to cover it – though hundreds of people were on the spot, taking photos and videos.

One of the hurdles was getting trust in the site’s content. A story of a bomb scare in London in May 2011 was only covered in the national news 2 hours later, and during this time the reports on blottr.com were criticised for irresponsible inaccuracy … though of course they were later found to have been accurate.

Another way of indicating that a story can be trusted, is an authentication bar, which gives a reliability score of 0-100, based on how many other people have contributed similar news, whether there are photos or video associated with the story, and whether the contributor has contributed to authentic stories previously.

Though the site is moderated to remove anything “libellous, malicious, or offensive”, the main guiding principle that Adam described was to “trust users” – presumably also the practical way to run a site which currently has 1.3 million users (with 1 in a 1,000) contributing to stories).

Themes

So, an interesting evening all round. Some common themes emerged in the audience questions:

  • What motivates people to take part in crowd-sourcing initiative?

Answers ranged from wanting  “self-gratification” (blottr) or contributing to the community (12designers), the opportunity to get experience (followme, peopleperhour), making use of spare time or extra capacity (peopleperhour, 12designers). Money was a factor, to an extent, but not generally high on the list.

With followme, the question of who would donate their own money was asked, and why. Though it wasn’t answered, it was mentioned that a similar service (kickstarter) had raised £27million through crowd-funding in 2010 … so there are clearly people around willing to get involved in this way.

  • How do you make money out of crowdsourcing?

Again, answers varied. Peopleperhour take a fee for each piece of work done; 12designers take a fee from the business user who requires the work to be done, at the point that they set up the “competition” on the site; blottr have licensed their platform to help the online interactive presence of more traditional news providers…

 

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