Design for crowdsourcing Recent projects at the New York Public Library Presented to the Powerhouse Museum 8 December 2011 Michael Lascarides Senior Manager for Web IniFaFves, NYPL @mlascarides / @nypl email@example.comMonday, December 12, 2011
Map Warper maps.nypl.org 2009Monday, December 12, 2011[35:00]
Rules for good crowdsourcing designMonday, December 12, 2011
“Choose your parents wisely”Monday, December 12, 2011Start with great rawmaterials!
Engage on an emoFonal level through storiesMonday, December 12, 2011Expose the stories behind a collection, and make them relatable to users. Use feedback to create narratives (as in Old Weather, where every entry moves the ship along on a map).
Appeal to the user’s beer natureMonday, December 12, 2011We have found that participation increases dramatically when we frame our calls for participation in terms of helping the library. Frame it the same way you would any other volunteer opportunity, evenif it’s one that only lasts 10 seconds.
DemysFfy the purposeMonday, December 12, 2011People want to participate in projects they understand. Practice your “elevator pitch” for your project: describe it in the time it takes to go ten floors in an elevator with someone. People don’t get excitedabout typing, but they will get excited about participating in the building of an important historical research tool.
Make the task as small as possibleMonday, December 12, 2011 This one can’t be stressed enough: pay extremely close attention to exactly what action you’re asking people to do, and make the task as discrete as possible. If the project involves transcribing apage of text, ask participants to transcribe a sentence, or a line, or even a single word. Complicated tasks with multiple steps run the risk of ending half-complete.
Encourage conFnuaFonMonday, December 12, 2011 Once the tasks are broken down into small enough pieces, completing one will feel like a bite-size morsel that leaves the participant wanting more. Thank the participant immediately for theircontribution, then immediately ask them to contribute a bit more.
Lower the barriers to parFcipaFonMonday, December 12, 2011If at all possible, allow immediate and anonymous contribution. It can definitely be useful to get users to register and sign in, so that you can reward top participants and track participation. But a sign-up page can be a barrier that may discourage the casual participant. A far better approach is to allow immediate participation without registration, and passively communicate the benefits of signing upas the user proceeds.
Encourage a feeling of shared ownershipMonday, December 12, 2011While critics of Wikipedia claim that anyone can enter false or vandalizing information, it’s heartening that the converse is true: anyone can also correct and repair bad information. By allowing otherusers to proofread and correct what’s previously been entered, you give participants a sense of pride that this is their “neighborhood” and it should be looked after.
Show results immediatelyMonday, December 12, 2011 This is another critical one. When you’re collecting input from participants, don’t send the fruits of their labor off to some unseen holding queue; instead, post the result proudly as completed. In our“What’s on the Menu?” project, every time a patron transcribes a dish off of a menu, the name of that dish becomes a clickable link leading to a page showing all menus where that dish appears andfacts about it (earliest and latest appearances, high and low prices, etc.). If the dish was incorrectly transcribed, it can always be corrected later. For us, it was far more important to treat the contributionas official the moment it was transcribed, allowing users to see their transcription become part of the research tool instantly.
Place the project in contextMonday, December 12, 2011Don’t try to be the center of the universe; link to other reference sources. On the NYPL’s menu project, at the moment a new dish is transcribed, a page for that dish is created which in turn containslinks to canned searches on other sites from Google to MenuPages to the library catalog, encouraging immediate exploration elsewhere.
Play gamesMonday, December 12, 2011The short “participate, get feedback” cycle we’re describing here lends itself extremely well to game dynamics. If possible, keep score, and give top participants some sort of public recognition.
Reward eﬀortMonday, December 12, 2011 If it’s possible to keep track of who’s participating, give rewards. Hold a special reception with refreshments in your library, and only give the invitation to online participants. If you’re not trackingthe identity of participants, make sure the messaging you display is loaded with gratitude.
Report resultsMonday, December 12, 2011Let users know how the project is progressing. If the goal is to transcribe a collection, show how many documents are in that collection, and how many have been completed. Show progress bars toindicate how far you’ve come and how far there is to go. If you’re using public participation to create a research tool, use a blog or social media to report how that research has been used by historians,authors or other researchers and ink to their work.
Share the fruits of laborMonday, December 12, 2011 When content is publicly created, make the resulting product publicly available. If the goal is to create a database of some sort, make the entire database available for download, or expose data withan Application Programming Interface (API) and encourage anyone to create “mashups” of your data. Promote any works that people derive from your data on your site or blog, and encourage others todo the same.
Build a communityMonday, December 12, 2011 Getting patrons involved in a project is an ideal opportunity to unite people with a common interest around your collections. Use social networks, a blog with comments, and/or an online forum tobuild a conversation with the people who are you top users. Listen to feedback, take suggestions, and point out interesting findings.
Thank you! Presented to the Powerhouse Museum 8 December 2011 Michael Lascarides Senior Manager for Web IniFaFves, NYPL @mlascarides / @nypl firstname.lastname@example.orgMonday, December 12, 2011