Thursday, May 16, 2013

Emerging Maturity: How Crowdsourced Competition Brings Self-Selected Experts

In our last two posts regarding the 3 different types of crowdsourcing, we touched upon two main benefits: (1) Task complexity, and (2) Variable Skills & Scale.

Now it's time to explore the people that are core to competition, and get an idea of how competition-based crowdsourcing, specifically in a community development model, creates those aforementioned benefits.

In the three models outlined, "self-selected experts" was a key model differentiator.

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What does it mean to have self-selected experts in crowdsourcing? What value does that generate?

First - Passionate Talent:
As we've seen over and over in our community stories, the first element of a self-selected expert is a passion for what they do:

"That is why I compete. It’s not about the money. It’s not even really about the technology. For me it’s a form of validation. To know that I can run with some of the best. That I can solve problems others can’t. To know that I am at the cutting edge and pushing it further. Of course I love problem solving and the friendly competition, learning new stuff and making a bit of cash. Really though the best part is just the challenge itself."

"Where CloudSpokes really shines is that it gives you a great platform to be a better developer. You might be a master of coding but that is not enough in a community setting. It forms just a part of the overall delivery package. How about documentation on what you have done? A video? How about commenting your code so that others can understand? I think all of us developers now have a chance to try out all these things and present our work in different ways."

Kenji776 and romin participate because they're true masters of their craft. Never happy with the status quo. Never happy with partial understanding. Never happy with second place. But always happy with a good challenge. It's a passion for their craft that drives them from within, and makes them some of the most successful competitors to ever participate on CloudSpokes.

The second element is a passion to learn more:

"CloudSpokes represents an amazing opportunity to get some concrete experience of real world development. You’ll get peer reviewed, and get real feedback on your efforts. I'm studying a software engineering degree part time and I get a buzz from getting my assignment feedback. This buzz has now been been dwarfed by the excitement that I feel when it’s coming up to CloudSpokes results day. I'm getting feedback, getting paid and getting to experiment with modern technologies."

"During my experience as an educator, interactive web apps matured and flourished, and I began to see how technology, used in the right ways in the service of skill development, empowered me to achieve great influence on student language acquisition. This, as well as my love for problem solving, eventually drew me back into programming full-time. My current goal is to combine teaching experience with programming skills to create tools for teachers that leverage and multiply their power to transform the minds of students."

The passion, enthusiasm, and participation of community members like Kenji776, romin, Natrass, and georgedyer are prime examples of the self-selected experts we see everyday within the CloudSpokes' community. Additionally, it's the friendly competition between members, and the camaraderie and desire to learn from each other, that makes this community of experts so special.

By running challenges in a competitive environment, an organization has the opportunity to tap into the passion to win, and passion to learn more, on every challenge. When a task is assigned to an individual, either in a contract or freelance environment, tapping into the individual's interest for the work ends up being a lucky side-effect, if it occurs at all. When a challenge is posted in a competitive community, it's a call to action for all members to come take a look and see if it's:

  • Something they care about building, or
  • A subject they're new to, but eager to learn more about

If either of those emotional triggers fire upon seeing the challenge, the member will try to find a way to compete. This dynamic creates a magical environment for both members and challenge sponsors. Members self-assign themselves to the types of work they love, and sponsors receive engaged, competitive participation on the problems they need the most help with.

Second - Community Engagement:
The second result of self-selected experts in a competitive community model is multiple people participating on a given problem. It takes a lot of experience and skill on the part of the competition platform to manage this correctly, but once dialed-in this is another benefit of the competition model:

  • Dialog and conversation to drive clarity on every step of a project
  • Multiple, varying approaches to solving the problem
  • Multiple participants winning
  • Opportunity for participants to see other approaches and learn from peer review

Want a community self-selected experts to work on your biggest projects? All you need to do is post your challenge in a competitive environment and let the experts flourish.

(Stay tuned for the next and final post in this series, "Pay-for-performance")

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