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What makes a crowd-sourced (collaboration) project successful?

We see lots of successful collaboration projects, while we don't notice the ones that fail. Many projects succeed and many fail. What are these characteristics that make collaboration successful?

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Closing Statement from Juan Calderon

I now have a better understanding of what a collaboration project should have. Successful Crowdsourcing (collaboration) projects have a goal with which the crowd has to identify. The project has to be organized in modules and have very clear instructions for the crowd to follow. The crowd has to be rewarded within the following categories (monetary, experience, and social/psychological. It is within the human nature to collaborate. Yochai's paper referenced within this discussion is amazing. The outcome of the conversation as was given to my class can be seen on this prezi http://prezi.com/eyb7vhlvidsu/crowdsourcing/

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    May 6 2012: Juan,

    Collaboration is right up there among the highest expressions and most staisfying experiences of what humanity is.

    Musicians encounter it and know it and a few outstanding solo musicians like Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Stephane Grapelli show us the power of collaboration in their recordings of collaborations. Yo Yo Ma has spoken of it as the highest order of musical expression.

    Something happens, something emerges that is almost mystical in a collaborative process..something greater than just the sum of the parts, the sum of the knowledge, expereience and talent of collaborators.

    The Flower Garland Buddhist tradition says that we are at once unique .and that our uniqueness is needed in the wolrd..that everyrhing we do literally pentrates all others..that what others do penetrates us..infinite interpenetration.

    Collaboration iis that process of infinite interpenetration where the best within us intermixes with the best of others producing a result that none of us could have imagined or achieved on our own but that couldn't have come about if the uniqueness of each was not fully given to the process.

    A beautiful and deeply moving example of crowdsourcing in the arena of governance and politics is Iceland's new crowdsourced Constitution..an ultimate excercise in mass collaboration..25 perfectly ordinary citizens workimg onlune in a fully inclusive fully transparent process produced a poetic and deeply human new constitution in a matter of months.
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      May 6 2012: That is a beautiful example. I hope we all followed. Do you have some reference? I was looking for a nice report, news or something to help me explain it on a class. thanks
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        May 6 2012: Juan here is a beautful and very entertaining yo yo ma collaboration with dancer lil buck

        http://dailypicksandflicks.com/2011/04/15/lil-buck-and-yo-yo-ma-fascinating-collaboration-video/

        all improv in group is collaboration

        if you google the flower garland school of buddhism or the term "infinite interpenetration"..good stuff

        A favorite and readily available video account exists of scientists on a train to theater in London, taking a break from a big conference and heated debates being presented, who through an unplanned collaboration on the back of a cocktail napkin came up with M theory. It is a classic and important example of collaboration because it involved no intent..they didn't gather to discuss the throery of everything..they were freinds and colleagues off to the theater together..each working in their professional lives on very different and somewhat competing theories.. and of course each intensely interested in the debate and competing theories ad ruffled feathers at the conference they were all attending.

        That's important to me because it means that collaboration comes from spirit and can often be unexpected and unplaed and uninteded..It's about getting ego and competition and the desire to be in control , get credit, be number one, dominate out of the way. These were all top guys in their particular corner of physics but on that train ride as friends commonly intrigue with debates and dissention at the conference the serenndipitousl collaborated to come up with M Theory ( parallel Universe)

        But of course it can't simply be explained..it has to be experienced it'sa jones..addictive..once someone experiences that personal high of completeness through collaboration singularity is never quite the same. I am sure every student in your class has had an inkling of that.

        Interested to know what happens. with your class..Send me a TED email and let me know?.
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    May 6 2012: Trust and Everyone putting their best foot forward using all their skills and alotted time for maximum success.

    Also, unihibited creativity without fear of penalization helps crowd sourcing.
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      May 6 2012: You also have to design a mechanism for control. In the case of reviews for example. You trust the people into adding the review of your products, but there might be a troll that just wants to be funny and screws your review system. Hence you need the report Spam feature, right?
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        May 6 2012: Is this organization online?

        Well, naturally a collaboration would find logical people and the people who aren't doing their work will be replaced, unless it is online, then that person will be blocked; all of this with warnings system of course.
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    May 6 2012: Your talks list does not include the talk by Yochai Benkler, of Harvard Law School. He wrote a paper very much on this topic some years ago called Coase's Penguin, I believe. It's a pretty challenging read, but it addresses precisely this issue in great detail.
    A pre-publication version is on the internet for free download.
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    May 5 2012: Kind of black and white don't you think? Like normal society all the things being done on the internet are a myriad of different practices with different goals and background. I don't personally think there a specific approach towards the internet that differs from real life. The only thing that might change is the technology in use.

    So in my opinion a crowd-sourcing project would rely on good marketing and a vision that is attractive.

    There are so many different ideas about this, so why not make a debate. Then we can also start debate about the meaning of success.
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      May 5 2012: Marketing and vision are absolutely important.
      Within your marketing you have to sell your project, but the project is not just marketing.
      There have to be some incentives for people to join, that not necesarily are related to you being aligned with the vision.
      I believe that there is some structure, some arquitecture that helps projects develop. I'm wondering about the characteristics that help projects be successful.
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        May 5 2012: Then let me tell you about my experiences, as I do have some.

        With crowd-sourced I think you mean free labor right? The essential thing is a goal, without a goal there is no development. However picking out what the main goal is is crucial. It should be inspiring and promote a better future, the next thing you have to look for is short term goals. The next thing that is on your mind is: how big is our group? How many people are working on it actively without being paid until the end? A small group means freedom and close interaction, however the bigger the group becomes you will need to divide it up between departments. However, not separate them, direct interaction is still needed. So as organizer, when you are talking about a thousand people, you have to make sure it self-organized. Create a flow system so people know what things they have to complete, just like when you are learning a new trade. Instead of focusing on organizing the whole thing you now have the time to spend your time on the so called "positive deviants": people that will take action themselves because they seek a solution and do this without being recognized for their actions (say irrational). By putting them in the spotlight you boost the morale between the short term goals.

        With self-organizing I also mean the monitoring of tasks, but this can be done through software (if the resources are there).

        The next important thing is to not overflow the project with new people. People that are unaware of the progress being made. It is better to let outsiders have access to the development and any interested can still apply for the job. Though adding modules to the already existing project will bring in new people involuntarily. This is however not something bad. It requires the people working on the projects to see it through novice's eyes, which in my experience has always lead to solving some of the most crucial problems.

        I hope this is what you're looking for.
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          May 6 2012: Thanks. This is what I'm looking for. It only rises more questions.
          There is the marketing, there is the vision or goal, and there is the free labour for which you have to establish the right conditions so that it "self-organizes". This is made by giving short term goals which have to be aligned towards the goal for the system to flow. And they should be added in a modular fashion.
          How do you keep the free-labour inside? There is some recognition and reputation involved. So you need some gamification? i.e. rankings, prices. money.
          How do you control? You have to monitor and you have to give some feedback so that the system doesn't go towards sommewhere else. Is this done by making each task small and simple enough?
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        May 6 2012: I understand it rises only more questions, but like I said in the end there is a myriad of variables at play.

        However, when you organizational design it all relies on the product you want to bright forth and how many parties have a particular role in the whole scheme. Creating an IT company is fairly easy in contrast to a drug company. The bigger the thing gets the more levels you have to create. Now I am not talking about mid-field managers, these people play no beneficial role in my eyes. Not because of their position, but because of their credentials.

        Free-labour? Labour is almost never free, maybe it is voluntarily, but it is rarely free. Labour can only be free in a sense if the participating people already earn more than they need and do the work for free. So in the end it only like a serious hobby, rather than a job. And when it becomes a hobby you need to adjust your organization structure. More freedom, but in what way I can't say as it against depends on multiple factors.

        Gamification, yes it works, but only for short-term (activist) groups. I have yet to see it integrated in a matured long-term group. Though not impossible, I have never succeeded in such and I actually come from the gaming industry formerly. Which should be the least hostile to such measures. ::: On another note, gamification does lower the threshold for community interaction if applied on a large scale, and with it being on a large scale it can be made self-regulatory. A simple example of self-regulation is thumbing up/down. Not everyone will do it, but enough will to add value to the system.

        May I ask what this is for? If it is for a specific task I might be able to be more thorough.
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          May 6 2012: Thanks.
          My friend asked me to help her by teaching a class next Tuesday. I'm working on the presentation which is full of examples. I started this conversation in order to help me organize my ideas.
          The presentation has many examples and I was missing the key points and a call to action. I want them to leave class with some simple rules of thumb or a nice summary of what makes it work.
          I appreciate your contributions, they have helped me organize the ideas.
          Any other comments or suggestions will be useful.