Staff crowdsourcing pilot using Spigit

My last post talked about my experiences as a moderator of a public crowdsourcing site and included a quick usability analysis.

I’ve also been involved in an internal pilot project to evaluate the Spigit platform as a method of harvesting ideas from staff.

Most of the platforms that I have looked at use a voting/rating mechanism, combined with comments and discussion in order to bubble ideas to the top.  I’ve been using the Spigit platform for the past month and it immediately stands out as wildly different from the other platforms.  It has the same voting/rating mechanisms plus comments and discussion.  But Spigit uses more sophisticated  techniques to sift out the best ideas.

Algorithms based on human behavioural science, not only track ideas but also people.  It is similar to the Google PageRank method where influential websites add weight to other websites by linking to them.  In this crowdsourcing space, influential people add weight to others’ ideas.  You become influential by posting ideas and comments, being voted for and becoming an expert in certain fields.  This method helps separate the masses who vote for an idea (but who individually have little influence and do not support the idea any further) from the singleton influencers, innovators and collaborators who are actively constructive in creating, promoting and nurturing ideas.

On Spigit, ideas must pass through a series of phases before they are considered viable and emerge at the other end of the funnel process.  The phases span from having to hit simple pageview targets and creating buzz, to recruiting people into a virtual idea team and then “floating” your idea on the internal virtual stock market.  And it’s possible to upload documents and videos to support ideas and discussion.

Sounds complex?  Compared to the other platforms where you just vote and comment, it is.  Yet, having used it, other theories along the lines of “most popular idea wins” start to reek of the playground.  It becomes clear that “idea quality” and “influential backing” are more important factors in sifting the intelligence and elevating the good, rather than popular, ideas.

To use the Spigit system, you must signup and create a user account, which comes pre-loaded with virtual currency.  There is also a viral flavour to the system allowing teams and idea makers to recruit additional staff into the mix.  As ideas progress through the funnel, top ideas are floated on the virtual market and this adds a competitive element to the platform through gaming/trading.  You can buy and sell shares in ideas.  And you could use your virtual currency to convert into prizes, time in lieu etc.  It’s a technique that encourages you to come back to the site.

Our pilot has yielded enough response to warrant wider roll-out.  Out of all the ideas during the pilot, three made it through all the required phases, getting enough buzz and backing to be ready for review at board level.

Further information

Engagement and crowdsourcing

“Uservoice” screenshot
“Uservoice” screenshot
Engagement and innovation are the buzzwords at work at the moment. The message from the top is “go forth and engage.” Engage with the public. Engage with the staff. And come up with ideas. Help us save money. How can we be more efficient? Which laws can we repeal:?

I have never seen so many sites canvassing for our input. And they appear to be working. People are contributing and interacting. Voting and rating.  Commenting and arguing. These idea collection sites are not barren. Sure, there’s a load of rubbish on them. But alongside the jokes and profanity there are some golden nuggets.

And on the intranet, finally, we are getting requests to be able to comment on news articles and share stories with work colleagues. And a need, more than ever in this time of austerity, for a crowdsourcing tool to collect, vote and comment on ideas from staff.

Having been a  moderator for a crowdsourcing project, I thought I’d put my usability hat on and take a look at some of the products available on the market at the moment, from both the moderation point of view and the end user.

A major problem on crowdsourcing sites is duplicated ideas and comments. Duplication happens when lots of people enter the same idea (lots of people, one idea) and also when people hit the submit button again and again (one person, repeated idea). Uservoice has cracked this problem using type-ahead functionality when people enter ideas. As they type, it shows similar ideas that other people have already entered. They can then view, comment and vote on an existing idea rather than creating a duplicate by entering a new one. And a clever system shouldn’t let you hit the submit button again.

It’s often possible to flag an idea or comment as inappropriate. But in my experience of this people have tended to flag ideas that they don’t like, rather than because there is something in the idea that breaks the moderation policy. If people are able to flag up content as inappropriate then there should be some mechanism to question their action. Otherwise moderators end up with an inbox filled with *thumbs down* messages instead of the correctly flagged content that they need to moderate.

Site owners should spend their time harvesting the good ideas rather than moderating them.

The calculations that are used to *bubble* content up to the top of the list need to be fair. If one idea gets 80 fourstar ratings and another gets 1 fivestar vote, then which sits on top?

How do you stop people going vote crazy or getting idea diarrhea? Uservoice adds a nice touch by limiting the amount of votes that any one person can use. Votes can be used to promote existing ideas.  And adding an idea of your own costs you a vote. Votes get refunded if your idea is used or closed. This helps to limit the number of fanatical posts.

In addition to comments and a little light discussion, site owners should have some method to communicate back to let people know what is happening with ideas. People shouldn’t be left thinking “what happened to my idea?”

Here’s a selection of platforms that I looked at:

Any success stories out there?