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Crowd-sourced bounties as a business model on online collaboration platforms

Image credit: brainstorming.com

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Jan 25, 2021
Please leave the feedback on this challenge

Is the problem still unsolved?


Is it concisely described?

Bounty for the best solution

Provide a bounty for the best solution

Bounties attract serious brainpower to the challenge.

Currency *
Who gets the Bounty *
The aim of this session is to improve/salvage a miss-directed business model.

Several platforms have been proposed (1, 2, 3, etc) that incorporate crowd-sourced bounties as a business model and incentive for high-quality contributions. These are open-information platforms that aim to maximize the pace of humanity's advancement through intellectual collaboration.


When money enters the equation it changes the dynamics from collaborative to competitive. The main objective switches to winning the bounty rather than maximizing progress by pooling collective brainpower.

When winning the bounty becomes the objective, other people are seen as rivals rather than partners. To assure fairness and let "the best person win", the contributions have to be temporarily hidden until the deadline for submission has passed. This, in turn, makes it impossible for people to build upon each other's contributions until the time is up. It defeats the main purpose of such platforms, but it does incentivize high-quality contributions and helps the platforms survive.

Aim of this brainstorming session:

Can we come up with an incentive model, that meets all of the following criteria:
  • retain intellectual collaboration at the core
  • retain open-information at every step of the process
  • financially incentivize high-quality contributors
  • avoid making it a workload nightmare for reviewers
Creative contributions

Crowd-sourced rewards for collaboration

Michelle Christine Feb 18, 2021
To promote collaboration over competition and reduce the burden on the reviewer --

-Pass the burden onto the competitor/collaborators to reference/group eachother's ideas into a "final submission" which is what the reviewer would be responsible to review. Criteria defined up front based on what the reviewer wants to / is willing to actually review.
-This would also be incentivized by increasing the total reward with the number of ideas collected and incorporated along the way (there could be a certain set minimum and/or maximum)
-Reward is shared among all contributors whose ideas are incorporated into the final winning submission
-Maybe separate rewards for the number of times your idea is picked up
-Combined analytical approach to reward ideas that likely contributed to final submission but weren't explicitly referenced
-Incorporating someone's idea could mean combining it with your own, changing it a bit, or even completely disagreeing with it if it still helped lead to a better idea
-You can build on any idea or group of ideas or groups of ideas up until the submission deadline
-You don't even need any of your own new ideas if your best value is connecting, combining, simplifying, explaining others or posing new challenges (emphasis on "that could only work if..." or "what would work better than?" over "that would never work")

Ideally the challenges and solutions are useful and democratic and accessible so that any unrewarded contributions will not have been wasted time or energy anyway. A bit of a shift in mindset in that you "want" your idea to be stolen, it's a good thing if it's stolen, and the goal is to share the ideas that will help yourself and others assuming they will be stolen. You contribute not just for the potential financial reward (that does help too!) but because you want your ideas (or something even better) to exist.

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
Hi Michelle Christine đź––

Great insight. I borrowed some of your words for a tweet:) I will take some time to think about how this could be translated into software. These are some of the problems I don't yet see solved:

- the more we leave to personal interpretation, the more we increase the potential for conflict (followed by resentment towards peers, the platform, the sponsors)
- the more people are involved in the decision, the more we increase the potential for conflict
- leaving things up to people's honesty ends badly when sociopathy and various other personality disorders enter the equation

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Psychology of money

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Mar 06, 2021
Priming is a technique in which the introduction of one stimulus influences how people respond to a subsequent stimulus. Priming works by activating an association or representation in memory just before another stimulus or task is introduced.

Money priming experiments (totaling 165 to date, from 18 countries) point to at least 2 major effects.
  1. Compared to neutral primes, people reminded of money are less interpersonally attuned. They are not prosocial, caring, or warm. They eschew interdependence.
  2. People reminded of money shift into professional, business, and work mentality. They exert effort on challenging tasks, demonstrate good performance, and feel efficacious.
Introducing a bounty primes people to start competing rather than collaborating. Yet we are aiming to overcome this.



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Person-to-person "thank you" tips

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Jan 25, 2021
Provide the ability for people to tip each-other as a sign of appreciation for amazing help/insight

  • Bounty = promise of potential future reward for quality contribution
  • Tip = gratitude for voluntered quality contribution
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Nightmare for reviewers

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Jan 25, 2021
Since every submission and comment is timestamped we could let people post openly and bounce off each other's ideas. Then a panel of reviewers would sift through all the content, consider who said what first, and nominate winners based on that.

In practice, this could turn out to be very difficult since a high-interest session could end up creating books worth of content. To be fair, all the reviewers would have to read every submission and every comment. Doing this for many sessions might be infeasible.

Sure, whoever decides on the winners would have to actually read the submissions anyway.
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A side-bounty for the most valuable supporting ideator

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Mar 01, 2021
To reward and incentivize collaboration, every bounty could have a fixed portion set aside for "the most valuable player" (MVP) - the person who maximally helps advance the thought process of others. The kind of person that goes out of their way to help improve other people's ideas rather than just their own.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
I like the idea. But I think we need to make it objective. Here are some objective criteria to help define a "valuable player":
1. The player replies to other people's suggestions/ comments, which makes the player a good collaborator. The number of words a person writes on other's suggestions/ comments can be the measure. A cumulative collaborative writing score can be calculated.
2. Improves other's ideas more than criticizing them: The number of comments spent in the improvement of other's ideas divided by those spent in just criticizing them.

Any other measures?
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni a well-meaning criticism can be just as valuable. The next person can use it as inspiration to solve whatever the criticism defines as the problem.

The value of MVP's contributions would probably have to be judged in a similar manner as the main bounty. Someone might post encouraging spam and wiki articles all over the place while someone else can add a single sentence to an "almost perfect" idea to make it an amazing/winning entry.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
Darko Savic So you are suggesting that the decision should lie with the panel and/ or the sponsor?
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"Time-bom"... khmm "Time-bounty"

jnikola Feb 01, 2022
The bounty is given in the full amount to all members of the working group but eventually gets divided among members based on the individual input. Oh yes, and it reduces by time :)
Let me tell you a story. The scientists divided the people of one company into 3 groups. The first group was the control and didn't get a bonus. The second group was promised a bonus at the end of the project if all the goals were reached. The last group was given a bonus at the beginning and said that they will have to return it if the goals were not reached. The first two groups performed the same, while the third group performed significantly better. That phenomenon is used in marketing too. Sellers encourage customers to make an impulse purchase if they think they're in direct competition with other people for a product that has limited availability. It's called loss aversion and it's scientifically proven it's a much stronger driver and motivator than acquiring the equivalent gain. We could use this to encourage people to put some effort and find solutions in bounty-defined time period.
How would it work?
The sponsor would set up a bounty of, e.g. 5000 USD for everyone that comes up with solution to a problem in the next 24 hours. People apply and, after the application period, the working group forms. The bounty gets equally distributed to each member of the working group and the clock starts ticking. Each member gives its own input through the predefined platform. Sponsor checks the progress every 6 hours and changes the coefficients of contributions for each members based on their inputs, which results in different allocation of money on members accounts (the best contributor gets the most money). After 24 hours, if the goal is reached, bounty gets distributed among members based on their contribution coefficients. If the goal was not reached, the users get another 24 hours but the bounty reduces 200 USD per hour until either the goal is reached, or the bounty falls to 0 USD.
What do you think? Would this help people engage more into finding solutions? How would it affect team work? Would members prefer to do it all by themselves, even though they could lose everything (if the goal was not reached), or they would work as a team and share the money equally, because then they all have higher chances of getting that money?
Additionally, this model could work well for this and this idea, too (Darko Savic).
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