Getting open thinking through Gated Communities
We’ve had an influx of members due to a Springwise article picking up on our Angelic crowdsourcing (You can digg that article here - and welcome to those new Angels!). So I thought it would be a great time to offer a post on the subject…
There is definitely an increasing level of online and offline conversation about collaborative online innovation networks (COINs), accelerated by the crowdsourcing meme.
Many of these crowdsourcing entities are about getting an open membership to pool wisdom to generate solutions for disparate and ongoing projects within certain areas. It’s a scattershot approach which means it is not right for creative projects where it is just as important to create a balanced community, and informed level of debate, as it is to draw on masses of people for their expertise.
This is why I think an evolving swarming angels model for creative production needs and benefits from gated communities. Here are some additional thoughts relating to this following from initial commentary on the model.
- Increase the barriers to entry
Phased and paid membership positively affects the community by weeding out spammers, and ambivalent participants. Subscribing to a gated community adds a psychological barrier which is a protection to participants (once they have moved through the barrier and joined), and a guarantee of serious engagement. Members hold more weight and power than open online social networks.
- Elevate the level of debate
Community discussion is transparent, but due to members (and not guests) having editorial input and posting capabilities, messages and topics appear more considered. They should be received with thoughtful engagement rather than offhand comments. Community health is not judged by quantity of postings but quality of topic response when needed on the project.
- Gather diverse people for a balanced Swarm
It is worth taking time especially in the early stages of the community to grow it slowly, and monitor the balance in terms of engagement and expertise of new Angels. A swarming angels community relies on quality of membership, and their trusted voices, rather than any viral aspects, to propagate and be successful.
- Target existing online communities and interests
Engage in an online conversation early to take on board and address comments on the project. Use existing open communities with interests and expertise complementary to the creative project to get your message across. Speak to people who will get the project, be interested in joining, and become engaged with it.
- Don’t overpromote or overbuild
Gated community members can evangelise a project, but this needs to coincide with appropriate project phases. If you are in a ‘development’ phase rather than a recruitment phase there’s no reason for larger scale promotion: you are overpromoting a project that isn’t tangible enough for larger audiences. Targeted promotion to those who already share common values with the project is more effective and appropriate. By having an ‘incomplete’ project from the beginning, one that is not comprehensively packaged, the opportunity for the Swarm to feedback, suggest and improve on the initial concept and ideas becomes available.
Some of these thoughts above are a direct result of the Swarm affecting my thinking on building the project: A Swarm of Angels doesn’t rely on ’sneezers’ to propagate the project virally, but on an escalating echo of trusted voices, predominantly from Angels within the gated community. The ecology of the community is paramount to it’s vibrancy, and pace of growth has to be regulated to safeguard that.
This is all a way of saying it is quite a high wire act. But, particularly from recent Angels drawn to the project because of it’s crowdsourcing credentials, there is an exhortation not to rush sign ups and promotion, but to get the balance right.
The thoughts above still need some refining and editing, as the process progresses that will get easier, but I’d be interested to hear responses to the points so far.
- 17.8.06 / 6pm
You got a good point there. Introducing moderators to a discussion isn’t necessarily a bad thing and doesn’t have to slow down the conversation. Producing a movie has to be a quite focused process with a clear goal. That doesn’t quite translate into a completely open wiki model, which appreciates any kind of input, no matter if it helps the goal itself. Swarm of Angels is quite output-oriented, and as such does need exactly the balance you mention above - which means balanced, controlled, sustainable growth instead of a big marketing bang. at least for the time being…
- 19.8.06 / 7am
Glad we are in sync on this.
At the same time I think the conversation does slow down, especially in the development stages of the community, because time needs to be built in for ‘call and response’. The feedback loop is potentially very quick, but I think it requires less organic development of projects and more rigid ‘actions’.
I think I mistakenly was too organic initially. But I guess I only found this out due to testing — I wanted to make sure there was enough flexibility at the start, but I think it’s better for the Swarm to push for/against something concrete, rather than being too open-ended initially.
So I think more structure is in order, then address if people think some of that is too limiting as feedback crops up.
How do you feel about that?
Original Location: http://www.aswarmofangels.com/2006/08/getting-open-thinking-through-gated-communities/