Obviously, crowdsoursing without participation is not crowdsourcing, its kind of like one hand clapping in fact.  In my last entry I discussed the importance of topics to draw interest in participation.  In this entry I will discuss ease of participation.  Ease of participation is critical to successful and robust crowdsourcing.  In our daily lives today there are so many things competing for attention that it is important to incorporate methods that both bring the topic front and center and then provide the means and opportunity to respond both quickly and easily. 

This is a very important aspect of crowdsourcing and just as important as the topic aspect.  After all if your partners have a difficult time participating in a topic it may not matter how interesting the topic itself is.  The ease of participation starts with an open communication plan and capability that broadcasts the topic and also a brief sentence or two of responses to the topic.  I’m sure this sounds familiar to most readers, as the LinkedIn model.  This, I believe is by design at LinkedIn and is regularly improved to encourage engage the active participation in the topic.  For these reasons I believe that LinkedIn is and should be viewed as the goal for developing a robust crowdsourcing participation platform.  Its not to say that there is nothing that annoys me about LinkedIn, however, on a whole the objectives and the execution I believe provide a robust and easy to use platform to provide an example for crowdsourcing.

What is it that makes LinkedIn a successful platform?  The subscription capabilities are the first thing; simple sign up and the ability to subscribe to focused topics by joining groups which allows participants to focus their attention in specific areas.  Another important aspect of the subscription process is the ability to invite new members to subscribe and by the same token to allow members to un-subscribe.  These two aspects of the subscription capabilities encourages active groups because a group will wither and die without interesting topics.  This provides an experimental aspect to the topics and groups that encourages trial and error.

The second aspect leading to the success of the LinkedIn platform is the subject notification and participation links. This supports the flipside of the crowdsourcing coin and without the participation there would be no need for topics or even participation platform.  Without the feedback loop It would simply be a broadcast network.  This participation provides a great method to gauge the popularity and importance of a topic simply though the measure of the responses to the topic. 

There is one final aspect of the crowdsourcing model to support the value and that is archiving the topics and responses.  This is not an aspect that is supported very well by LinkedIn but is a critical requirement for value generation in your crowdsourcing efforts. 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

How do you incorporate the different methods of communication to support your collaborative network needs and objectives?  Do you have a formal maintenance communication plan that your partners have participated in developing?  How does the informal communications methods impact and support the formal communications?  Have you developed an evaluation plan for your communications methods, a type of continuous improvement process for your communication methods and communications plans?