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Collaborative-competitive problem solving

Image credit: Brainstorming.com

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Mar 21, 2022
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Bounty for the best solution

Provide a bounty for the best solution

Bounties attract serious brainpower to the challenge.

Currency *
Who gets the Bounty *
Achieve collaborative-competitive problem solving by pledging to reward the most valuable contributor of a yet-to-be-discovered best solution.
Competitive because people are trying to come up with the best solution to a given challenge. Collaborative because people are also rewarded for being the most valuable supporting brainstormer.
  • A way to shift communities from rivalrous to collaborative social dynamics.
  • Make people realize that we all win by helping each other out.
  • A way to make our technologies catch up with our ambitions faster.
How it works
People are competitive and collaborative by nature. These two traits seem like polar opposites, but they do not have to be.
The following scenario emerges on the Brainstorming platform:
  1. Someone posts a challenge and offers a bounty reward that doesn't only go to the best solution but instead part of it goes to the person who was most useful in shaping the best solution. It doesn't only matter what the solution turns out to be and who gets lucky in connecting the dots. What also matters is who came up with the bits and pieces that helped shape the winning solution.
  2. As people compete for the bounty, they start outdoing one another in bringing the most useful insight to the table. Everyone tries to iterate every idea to the best version they can imagine. It's never too late to add some value to what others said. Little by little everyone's contributions are added up. In addition to going for the winning solution, everyone strives to be the most valuable contributor. Since they aren't sure which solution will be the best, everyone contributes/iterates everything that resembles a good solution.
  3. The winner(s) are determined in retrospect. When the best solution to the challenge becomes known, we can look back on all contributions that led to the final solution. We can then see who provided crucial pieces of information that helped shape the winning solution.
This results in collaborative-competitive problem solving where people aren't solely focused on coming up with the best solution. A big part of the focus is on being the most valuable member of the problem-solving team.
Analogous to a colony of ants:
  • it doesn't matter who the queen is
  • it doesn't matter which ant is the strongest
  • it doesn't matter which anthill is the biggest
All ants try to be useful in building the most efficient anthill, so that they all can thrive.
An example
I post a challenge and pledge $500 to reward the best idea that achieves the goal. In addition I pledge $200 to reward the brainstormer whose contributions had the greatest impact on shaping the winning idea.
Creative contributions

How do we objectively calculate each contributor's contribution?

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Mar 21, 2022
This is definitely an idea worthy enough to perfect and realize. However, looking at every response and deciding which contribution stems from which previous contribution and assigning each contribution an unbiased appropriate weightage of the final solution is a moderation-heavy and, more importantly, subjective task. If we make it more objective, not only will it be more unbiased, but an algorithm may be able to assign appropriate weightage, reducing the burden on moderators.
There should be some amount kept for the winning contribution. As an example, 30% of the bounty goes straight towards the winning contributor. The remaining 70% is distributed among the other contributors based on their help in reaching the final solution. How do we objectively calculate each contributor's contribution? I initially thought of using words as a "contribution unit". Every solution will have words and when you read the previous contribution, you use the same words and add your part to build on it. Therefore, words could be used to distribute the bounty appropriately.
For example, if I am one of the initial creative contributors, the unusual words (after removing pronouns, articles, conjunctions, etc., and also the words used in the challenge) in my contribution will be listed. When further contributors use any of these words, it gets recorded. Let us say that I used the word "monoclonal antibodies" in my contribution. If in the final solution that wins, there are 100 words and "monoclonal antibodies" appears 5 times, it is assigned 5% of the bounty. Now, since I am the first user of the word "monoclonal antibodies", I get 50% of the 5% bounty. The rest of the 50% is distributed equally among the chain of contributors who have used "monoclonal antibodies". This leads to a fair distribution of the bounty to every contributor.
There are some loopholes here. For example, someone who has no idea how to solve the challenge simply tries to use the words used by previous ideators and gets at least some part of the bounty. How do we identify such freeloaders? I thought of eliminating every contribution from the bounty that has a threshold of previously used words. For example, if your contribution has 70% or more words that were used by previous contributions, your contribution does not receive any part of the bounty. Will this work?
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic2 years ago
Here's what I'm thinking:
Ideas can come as a result of various things. It could be through associations of concepts that someone mentioned, it could be words, it could be a combination of seemingly unrelated concepts that happened to find themselves mentioned one after another. Someone could connect 2 seemingly useless concepts into something useful. Someone else could then take that something and turn it into a good solution.
Only the ideator would really be able to tell how they got the idea. So we should somehow promote the culture of referencing existing inspirational content when adding contributions.
Algorithms are subject to manipulation. Because of this they can't/shouldn't (yet) decide who gets paid. GPT-3 (and future versions) could be used to summarize/tag/keyword (as you suggest) all contributions and show likely links between them and the winning idea. This can be machine-learned where AI learns from human judges and past cases/experiences. When it learns enough, the AI algorithm can start suggesting who the most valuable contributor is. Humans would still do the judging, but the AI could eventually take the role of one of the judges before in the distant future being capable of replacing all judges.
That said, here's what I suggest:
  1. Selecting winning solution(s) should be relatively simple as good/working solutions will usually be obvious.
  2. Arranging ALL contributions and comments chronologically is already possible.
  3. Whoever is tasked with selecting the winning idea(s) and most valuable contributor(s) will at least have to read it all. After knowing the winner, they can read through all the content once more, in chronological order, and look for hints that could lead up to the winning idea. While reading, they could have a rating system where they rate each content piece based on how big of a role *they think* it had in the winning idea. This could be done by several people. The most valuable contributor could then be calculated based on the average/consensus of points assigned by the reviewer(s).
The key here is to have judges that are reputable.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 years ago
Darko Savic What you suggest is definitely a good solution. However, it relies on the moderators being unbiased and also on their memory to remember who said what to decide who might the solution be contributed by. Also, don't forget the time they have to spend on reading thousands of contributions without getting frustrated. I agree with your points 1 and 2. Point 3 is where I think a more objective system could be incorporated.
Even if the contributions mentioned are "ideas that are a combination of seemingly unrelated concepts", they are written in words and words could be tracked and recorded. If a person summarizes all the previous ideas and posts it as a solution, he/she adds nothing valuable to it and the solution gets rejected. However, someone who uses those unrelated ideas and puts them together in such a way (this is where new words from the contributor appear in the system that the authors of the previous unrelated concepts might not have used) that the solution wins, all three people (the authors of the two unrelated ideas and the winner) get rewarded. It is unlikely that someone explains a technical concept without using any of the previously used words. They would have to use them and that would lead the initial user getting a part of the bounty. There is a limitation to the technical terms a person can replace while writing a solution. For example, you cannot replace "monoclonal antibodies" with anything that suggests that you mean "monoclonal antibodies". "Words" is what you have to work on, and if used smartly, could create a fair algorithm.
I agree that only the ideator would really be able to tell how they got the idea. If they were trutful, nothing like it. However, you cannot rely on the ideators being altrustic (providing due acknowledgment) all the time in a competition, especially when the rewards are huge.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic2 years ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni for bigger bounties, the sponsor might want to assign a team of reputable judges. After all, the sponsor's reputation is on the line as well.
A part of each bounty could go to pay for judges' time
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General comments

Goran Radanovic
Goran Radanovic2 years ago
It definitely has merit. People who contribute to the winning idea should also be rewarded. You can have several winners: best solution and best contributors. Without rewarding the person who provided the best solution, people aren't encouraged to provide solutions. They'll wait for someone to provide the best solution so that they can add their contribution.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic2 years ago
Goran Radanovic good point! I will add it in the description
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