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"Crowd support" - a public platform to help realize ideas

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Povilas S
Povilas S Feb 03, 2021
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A good solution to the quest of this session would be a platform where people could not only fund anyone's ideas but help to realize them in any way they can.

If it's a rather simple idea, like building something, people from the local area could offer to supply building materials (from what they have in their sheds and don't use anyway, for example) or offer help in building it. That way they could be the part of the process themselves, meet people and make friends.

Ideas could range from small and simple personal aims to grandiose ones, like the colonization of Mars. There are many ways in which people can help, not only money. Someone (who's proficient in that field) could offer to write a marketing strategy for a specific product/website, etc.; some people could offer to drive required materials or people from place to place, when necessary; someone might know people proficient in specific fields in which the project requires deep knowledge, to be realized; someone might know some investors who might be interested in that particular idea, etc, etc.

The completeness status of the idea could be shown next to it and constantly updated as things progress further. The type of resources/help that is most needed at a particular time would also be emphasized. Ideas that are nearing completion might attract support more easily.

The first step would be for the author to describe the idea as detailed as possible. The next step - to make a draft of all the steps and resources required to complete the idea. The second step could be done either by the author or collaboratively with users of the platform who became interested and willing to help.

Once the draft would be done, people could start offering their help for various required steps and resources. Crowdfunding could be the base model for financial support. When the idea becomes realized all the contributors would then be invited to participate in an official event or opening (if that's feasible), get small symbolic gifts, discounts on the product, free samples, or be rewarded in any other way. For example, in the case of Mars colonization, the most influential contributors could be amongst the first travelers to the planet.

The part of this where things get a bit complicated, I think, is the rights to the idea and especially the final product/creation. If the final product is a result of everyone's collaborative work and resources, can the author of the idea own rights to it in the end, just because it was his/her idea?

It would be rather easy for ideas directed towards common benefit without any wish for personal profit, e.g. solving the traffic problem in a particular city, just for the sake of more peaceful life of its inhabitants. Maybe the platform could be primarily dedicated for open-source, non-profit ideas. But even in that case, the author would want the idea to turn out according to his/her vision, so the sense of ownership would be present to a certain extent.

However, this is not a major drawback and could be worked out with a set of predefined rules/standards.
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General comments

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
Great idea! I understand the issues with ownership. Here are a few other points the platform should have. The platform needs a solid system for work delegation, that is, a continuously updated inventory of who has what materials and expertise so they can be called upon/ asked when a project needs them. For example, it may so happen that a web designer may already be working on a project, and therefore, may not be available for another right away. If the inventory is updated, a different web designer can be approached. If this is not handled directly by the system (the computer), then the platform will simply act like a guy who posts different kinds of jobs on the freelancer sites on behalf of a company.

Another issue is regarding the materials "in their sheds and don't use anyway". The durability and functionality of these materials need to be monitored, which will add another department to the company. You may not be able to simply rely on people for updating the inventory regarding what materials they have and the condition of the materials. Also, since you mentioned some kind of rewards, there may be a tendency among the users to collaborate in a project even if they lack or have subpar expertise and/or materials. Who validates all of this? Yes, expertise may be reliably updated by the users.

What happens when you do not find anyone interested in a certain aspect/ job in the project? Do you give the rights of hiring a third party to the sponsor or does the platform find someone to do the job? If the platform finds someone, it is an added work for the platform. If you leave it up to the sponsor, they may lose faith in the platform or your platform may simply act like a non-profit Ebay coupled with a freelance job site.

There needs to be a user (ideally the one who initiates a project) who will oversee the work. Every project cannot be managed by the platform. If a user invests time and energy in managing a project, they will naturally feel like they own it or own a greater share of the project, which is not a wrong expectation. So, an ideal approach would be to make that user a 50% owner since the beginning and then distribute the remaining ownership among the higher contributors. The distribution can be a job of a review panel together with the 50% owner.
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni Thanks for noting all the important points:) Yes, the platform should be designed to update and distribute the available workforce/resources. Although, I'm not sure what's the best approach for this. The way you're suggesting it, as I understand, is that whoever registers on a platform has a profile with certain skills and information about what kind of tasks they are generally proficient to help with and then the platform matches different ideas and their "needs" with different people and their skills automatically? And keeps sending requests, like "this idea matches your skills, would you be interested/available to help?". Is that more or less what you have in mind?

Matching skillful people with ideas in need of those skills is one important aspect. Another important aspect is trying to match certain ideas with people who'd really sympathize with them and would like to see them realized, in other words, to offer personalized content. Even if someone doesn't have the necessary skills/resources, but they like the idea a lot, they might be able to recommend someone suitable or find other ways to help. Of course, the best would be to combine the two - to match people who have the necessary skills with ideas that they would love. But just sending requests for people who have the necessary skills might not work very well, they would get many requests for different ideas and it will start feeling like spam for them after a while.

Also, skills are one aspect, but resources are another, you can't really profile your resources. Money is the most important of them because you can obtain everything else with enough funding, so again - attracting people with finances who'd love the idea and would be willing to donate more is of great importance. But especially for simple and small projects many people might have material resources required and it's very hard to profile material things that could be potentially useful for some ideas, but this could be attempted. Especially if someone has excess amounts of something, e.g. free space (their private land to possibly host some event) or large amounts of unused materials, like wood, glass, etc., they could put this on their profile. But let's say someone wants to make an autonomous hydroponics device and to make a test prototype, it's enough to connect several smartphone batteries, therefore this person needs the batteries. Many people would have old smartphones with removable batteries that could be donated.

This last example is related to your point about materials being of reasonable quality. Many projects would require high-standard materials to be completed and in those cases, it's probably the best to buy new materials or alternatively - accept donations from companies that produce them. But many simple projects might be made from scratch - like building a raft or a sculpture. One important feature of the platform should be to connect people and ideas locally - that way required materials could be donated more easily and people could physically contribute. More grandiose ideas could be displayed on a global level.

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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni "What happens when you do not find anyone interested in a certain aspect/ job in the project?" Well, the idea fails then. Or at least it fails to be realized with the help of the platform. If the initiator(s) would be determined enough they might continue pursuing it by other means.

I agree with what you are saying in your last paragraph. However, there would be different ideas for different purposes and different levels of authorship associated with them. Also, the reward system might differ accordingly. It's difficult to discuss every aspect without trying out that kind of platform practically.

To me, it seems a good idea if the platform were maximally oriented towards collective ownership of the result. The best reward is when you can use the final product freely and no one gets to profit from it. The product is the profit. For example: if you really want some app that is not existing yet, you think it would greatly benefit your life. You don't care if you make it or anyone else, as long as it would be developed and available for you (and others) to use. You post the idea of the app, other people who also want that kind of app join the collective efforts. Given you finally succeed (collectively) to develop that app, you make it open-source, free to use for everyone, donation-based if those are needed to sustain it. In that scenario everyone wins, the motivation for people to try is the wish to be able to use the final product. Of course, it would not be that simple to achieve as it is to write about, but it's feasible.

The process of idea development might need one or a few people to guide it, so to take more responsibility, but they not necessarily need to own more rights to the final product in terms of profiting from it/being able to use it.

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
Povilas S I understand. I think it would be an attractive platform to develop community projects (for example, to construct a park in an open area) or for NGOs looking for help (for example, to plant trees, build something for the senior citizens, etc.)
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni Yes, but not only:)
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