Smashing magazine is running a contest to find new professional writers and is giving a MacBook Air as a prize.

While I was contemplating whether it would make sense for me to participate in the contest, I started thinking about the general issue that a high profile/traffic blog or site encounters: how to find and recruit new talented writers. And then an idea came to me that might prove to be a solution completely in sync with the current trend of ‘social everything’: crowdsource blogpost writing.

How on earth would that work? Well, not much to wonder about, because it actually works.

Let me explain:

Blog posts and the comments they attract have long been considered in unity. The post might be correct or not, might be complete or not, might be original or not. Regardless of what it is aspiring to be, comments tend to ‘correct’ it. Commentators might have more information than the writer and they can contribute it. They might also pin point errors, either in the thinking or in the referenced material. They might add insights to aspects the author has never considered etc.

If you have even a small blogging experience  then all the above is common ground to you. But how does this relate to new blog posts?

Simple. One has to initiate the same process before a post is published.

How would that work in detail?
One option that I considered is this: the publisher (i.e. the blog or magazine owner) makes known his intention to utilize crowdsourcing, and invites interested writers to contribute.
Writers register (if they haven’t already) in a private wiki and offer whatever they think fit on a case by case basis. Contributions can take many forms:

  • Submitting an idea for an article
  • Submitting a draft article
  • Correcting an article
  • Complementing and or documenting an article
  • etc

Fees for the work contributed can be based on the words submitted that were included in the final post. We are not talking a lot of money here, but we are not talking a lot of work per individual either.
A bonus system that will increase the per word remuneration based on the amount of past contributions can work out the incentives needed to keep people hooked in. The remuneration of the submission of ideas has to be different though. Could be a flat fee or a percentage of the total article cost.

If you like the idea, well, let’s crowsource this post and make it better. No money will be involved though, just the glory 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing blogposts

  1. It is indeed an attractive idea. I am a bit skeptic regarding the compensation model. A wiki or any other collaborative platform would clearly favorite the first-comers as they would easily contribute obvious facts and arguments that should exist in the post anyway for the sake of completeness.

    I would say that the “facilitator” of the process should do a kick start post containing all those, say, trivial facts and arguments, and an outline of the main point of the post, and let contributors enrich/challenge/refine it.

  2. @Σπύρος Ντόβας I admit that the compensation as I described it was to weak but it was only meant as a hint not as a fully elaborated proposal.
    I hear you about the post facilitator, but why the first one can’t be the facilitator? Say, I have an idea, I draft it as a small post and contribute it. Then others come in and feel the gaps. Since money is involved, the editorial team has to make a decision on when the process stops though.

  3. Intuitively I would say that the post facilitator should be a member of the editorial team and not a paid contributor. Otherwise, authors, in order to maximize their economic benefit and also get a lion’s share in recognition from a successful post, would rather tend to create new posts instead of contributing to posts that others have created.

    On the other hand, if somekind of a weighing factor is set to moderate the benefits for the facilitator, the system may become stable. However, this point of stability can not be derived analytically and has to be found through a trial-and-error process. And I am not sure how many errors such a novel idea can withstand before it dies…

  4. @Σπύρος Ντόβας I hear you regarding the facilitator being a member of the editorial team so not to game the system, but this runs contrary to a main assumption: that the blogpost ideas are also contributed. The way you put it, ideas are generated by the editorial team and elaborated by the contributors. It can work but won’t generated new bright posts.

    I am not sure I understand what sort of weighing can be applied and to what. Please explain.

  5. Keyword triggering response or comments: compensation

    Not a novel idea, numerous sites offer this golden ring opportunity. Uncovering a missing talent putting them on the path from blogger to writer to columnist. That in itself can cause a stir amongst current ‘paid’ columnist.

    The main goal is attracting an audience/readership or more important those that click through on sponsor ads. So the author has to go through an identity trial. Finding active content, than be able to express his/her opinion that in turn retains a visitor (by subscription or feed) an perhaps generate commentary which helps validate readership.

    My question is directed at the subject. Most of the time, posting comments let’s me limit my words and condense the thought. Dependent upon the position of said content, I may or may not be able to add value. The purpose of blogs creating a simple tool for those to express their “opinions”, right or wrong has nothing to do with it.

    Take notice of posts that gain popularity through vehicles like wordpress, what generates one over the other? Why is Arsenal football more important than Apples attempt to Stream video of the olympics? Why is a recap of a TV show more popular than Chicago’s bid to host (2016) olympics considering their 3rd behind London (2012) and Beijing for a surveillance infrastructure. Why is this post featured?

    Crowdsourcing? or potential source generator.

  6. @JohnFeeney Thanks for taking the pain to leave such a lengthy comment.

    You say: “Not a novel idea, numerous sites offer this golden ring opportunity. ” Could you please name a couple? This is not doupt, just curiosity. Hardly any idea is really novel after all.

    “The main goal is attracting an audience/readership” How should I interpret this? As a should or as the main goal of efforts to attract new talents?

    “Why is this post featured?” Same question here. I’d very much want to know the algorithm wordpress uses.

    “Crowdsourcing? or potential source generator.” this i don’t understand at all.

  7. Nikos, as I imagine it, weighing should be applied to the metrics that will be used to calculate the compensation, so that it moderates the income of the first poster.

    If you compensate according to the number of words or by the number of arguements that will exist in the final post, it is obvious that the first contributor will get a lion’s share which will lead to everyone proposing new posts.

    You may avoid that by saying that the rule applies to the first contributor multiplied by a factor, say, 0.3, or that the first contributor gets a fixed percentage, say 25% of the money that will be given out as compensation.

    Another interesting issue is who is going to sign the piece when it gets out. Will each idea or arguement be attributed to the respective contributor (which is apparently technically challenging operationally demanding) or the “glory” goes to the organization that pays (which is in fact the dominant model in the traditional economy)?

  8. @Σπύρος Ντόβας Who is going to sign the piece, eh? Well all. The same practice can be found in music remix in ccMixter. If the list is too long, a link would suffice.
    The interesting part is who bears the legal rights and implications: since this is a paid work, copyright goes to the publisher. And since this is approved by an editorial team, responsibility goes to the editor.
    Good points Spyros!

  9. Tremendous post you have scored here! The web is overflowing of horrid writing and I was grabbed by your limpidity. Your closings are exact and I will straightaway subscribe to your rss feed to remain up to date with your up future day postings. Yes! I admit it, your authorship style is special and I will work harder on mine.

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