Hi I’m Siobhan. I’m from New Zealand and I’m one of the crowd in crowdsourcing and the citizen in citizen science. I’m am an end user.
I volunteer for a wide variety of digital humanity and citizen science projects.
I want to tell you why I do this and what you can do to encourage and keep volunteers like me helping you.
So why do I do this?
The main reason is because it’s fun! I crowdsource because I love doing it. I pick projects that have content I’m interested in and that I want to learn about. I like to learn new things then share what I learn.
Also I like to help. I want to add to the greater good. To play a small part in increasing knowledge.
So what can crowdsourcing projects do to help me, help you.
Be Generous with content
If you are generous with content I’ll be generous with my time. Allow me to reuse what I help to create. So for example if I’m transcribing I want to be able to download the transcription and use it how I like. If I’m tagging images I want to be able to use those images in Wikipedia or in a blog. License copyright as freely as you can. For me, the more generous you are the better.
I also consider this when I’m deciding whether to donate my time. If the institution is generous with its content I’m much more likely to volunteer for it. I get very frustrated if content is licensed restrictively or is behind a paywall. And if I get frustrated I get resentful and I go to on another project. I want you to let me have fun, play with the content or data and use it however I like.
Be Generous with time
Be generous with time. Spend time and effort creating a volunteer community. Talk with them. Encourage them. Crowdsourcing is much more fun if done with friends. Think about what you can do for the crowd rather than what the crowd can do for you. Help us work together, have fun and be social.
Give me a point of contact if I have questions. Instructions don’t cover everything. Let me ask you if I’m not sure what to do.
If I love the project I’ll also want to discuss it. Listen your users as we can help you improve.
I also enjoy sharing the discoveries I make. I want to share the things I learn both with other volunteers and with the people behind project. Have a way to make this happen. It can be something as simple as setting up a twitter account.
My favorite projects are those that spend time giving feedback about progress. They talk to their volunteers about the way the project is going. They also explain how the data generated will be used. So give me links to the research or articles that use the content I’ve helped create.
Communication will reward me for my time and will motivate me to do more.
Be Generous with trust
Trust your volunteers. Most of us want to start immediately and learn by doing. Realize that the instructions won’t get read until we hit a problem. Design for this! We mean well but WILL make mistakes. Don’t confuse this with malice.
Have easy tasks for beginners. I’ll become more expert as I do more for you.
Have ways for me to “level up”. Once I’ve mastered a skill I’ll want a new challenge. Try and give me a way to learn and progress. Do this and you can create your own enthusiastic experts.
If the project can’t provide a “level up”experience, talk to your volunteers and encourage them to do it for themselves. Trust volunteers to use the content they generate. Let them link the data. As an example: it can be as simple as them going from tagging images, to then uploading them into Wikicommons, to then reusing them.
Also, have different “levels of difficulty”. Easy tasks I’ll do while watching TV, harder creative tasks I’ll do with nothing else to distract me. This results in me doing more.
Design your crowdsourcing project so I, and others like me, can enjoy your content. Help us put into practice the phrase “life long learning”. Build a social network containing volunteers and people behind the project.
If a crowdsourcing project is designed correctly it can enrich volunteers lives, the institution that runs the project, and the content we are all engaging with.