7 thoughts on “Three perspectives on crowdsourcing events

  1. Thanks for this analysis, and particularly your point about the diversity of viewpoints contained in most conference audiences. That to me was the trickiest part about understanding crowdsourcing and conferences — diversity does matter in collective intelligence. How can you know if a particular audience has it, particularly if it is on the small side and/or your conference covers a lot of different subject areas?

    1. I’ll repeat my thanks to you Barbara for your well-written article and the time you spent with me to understand my approach. I’ve written about the diversity issue before, both generally and on a specific analysis of pre- and at-the-conference crowdsourcing. I would love to discover a pre-event crowdsourcing format that can be shown to effectively predict what attendees want and need, but I’m still waiting for a design with solid supportive evidence.

  2. Adrian,

    that is quite a comprehensive overview.

    I do not necessarily agree with the remarks on SXSW.

    Most corwdsourcing initiatives do incorporate elements of voting and popularity contest tactics. That is inevitable when the volume of participants is large. I say that having run a crowdsourced project and community of 20K professionals for 2 years.

    I would not make it a semantic exercise – there are some dangers in it.

    Being more specific – the statement:

    “[..] This is because there’s no significant pre-selection communication between attendees and/or the folks offering the sessions, so we end up with what is basically online voting on thousands of suggestions.”

    is what makes me uncertain of the whole argument.

    Speakers in fact tend to submit very comprehensive session descriptions with video pitches.

    Attendees are free to support their favourite session and make it become part of the actual conference schedule.

    Most crowdsourcing successes are leveraging on such mechanism. If you look for example at Kickstarter – the dynamic are very similar.
    Very little pre-selection comms there as well, yet the platform is becoming the archetypical image of crowdsourcing funds (or crowdfunding).

    Crowdsourcing means to me fostering democratic choices and voting is the most adopted technique to make the crowds express a preference.

    Therefore I won’t be too quick to dismiss participatory techniques and tools (such as the amazing SXSW Panel Picker) in selecting sessions for too long and still today one of the last control fortresses to be dismayed.

    1. It’s great to hear from you Julius. I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet at EIBTM last week.

      I’m still skeptical as to whether the SXSW session selection process is an improvement over a popularity contest. This is based on my annual experience of being bombarded with pleas to vote for certain sessions each year. I have seen these kinds of “get the vote out” campaigns been “successful” at smaller events to the detriment of alternatives which did not employ mass email pitching.

      The crucial difference between the SXSW Picker and what Kickstarter does is that with Kickstarter you vote with your MONEY. If crowdsourcing of SXSW sessions was restricted to those who had paid to attend, I’d feel much better about the process. But when anyone can vote at no cost, and voting is biased towards those who run the best pitching campaign to the largest audience, I think the results needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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