As an editor, there is nothing I love more than encountering a total mess of a project and having to figure out why it went wrong and how to fix it. So imagine my delight when I ran across Business Today’s scathing analysis of the failed crowdsourcing attempts of various Indian online clothing outlets to design marketable products.
The Complaint: The submissions these sites receive are largely useless, according to the people running the sites. They’re “amateurish”, or a movie slogan with one word changed, or are simply designs stolen from other outlets and submitted as original content. Site administrators claim they can use only a very small percentage of the designs, and some of them go so far as to say that they reject almost all designs; their crowdsourcing campaigns are simply for show.
The Problem: Lack of compartmentalization, lack of barrier to entry. Many of the site admins have said it themselves, in this article, in as many words; the designs lack a common thread that gives the outlet an identity, and they see no good way to filter the submissions they get to weed out the bad ones. Simply put, this is the crowdsourcing equivalent of trying to catch a tiger by putting a fence around an entire jungle. Sure, technically, you’ve caught a tiger. But you’ve also caught a million other non-tigers, and you have no good way of extracting the tiger from those things.
The Solution: You’re gonna have to increase your focus a bit, guys. This is a dual-pronged process, since you need both better submissions and a better vetting process. Fortunately, there’s a lesser-known site called Threadless that got the process right, and you can take a lot away from their approach. Form a community instead of a competition to inspire collaboration and attract talent. Plug your platform on artistically inclined sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, deviantART, and Etsy. And for goodness sake, let the customers help decide which designs to choose! It practically guarantees sales; by the time they approve a design, it’s already got hundreds of users who have seen it, liked it, and indicated their interest in purchasing the final product.
Can you envision other ways these flailing campaigns can reach their goals? Let me hear it in the comments!