Gaming crowdsourcing

September 20, 2007 at 1:29 am | Posted in Assignments | Leave a comment

Assignment Zero Final provides a postmortem for Assignment Zero. The concept employed a smart mob to to create Pro-Amateur journalist content. If the organizers had looked at what game designers have learned from MMOs, they might have had more success.

The net effect was to put the organizational onus on the volunteers themselves. Baffled by the overarching concept of crowdsourcing, confused by the design of the website and unable to connect directly to a manager or organizer, most of the initial volunteers simply drifted away. “What we learned,” says Rosen, “is that you have to be waaaay clearer in what you ask contributors to do. Just because they show up once doesn’t mean they’ll show up over and over. You have to engage them right away.”

However, just letting a group of people loose on a website failed to create a community. Communities need means to establish themselves. Even beyond engaging the contributors, those involved needed to establish norms.

The effect of this reorganization was felt immediately, as contributors could now collaborate openly with each other and review one another’s reporting. This certainly reinforced one of the lessons that was learned from reporting on various crowdsourcing projects: Essentially, it’s all about the community.

Like games, you need a core of people invested and willing to induct newcomers. But without some means to organize, a core group will never form. As gamers and game designers know, without this core of people able to help out newbies, newcomers can quickly become lost and confused. Essentially what the organizers witnessed during the first half of the experiment.

But like everything else, you have to fail a few times and learn the hard lessons before you can be successful.

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