Is Crowdsourcing Evil?
I’m sure most of you are aware of this debate - it’s been raging for quite a while now. For many the question of whether or not to produce work to spec is something they feel very passionately about, and for good reason. The "No Spec Movement", which is largely driven by the design industry, defines Spec work in the following way:
" “Spec” has become the short form for any work done on a speculative basis. In other words, any requested work for which a fair and reasonable fee has not been agreed upon, preferably in writing."
The debate clearly comes down to what is considered fair and reasonable when requesting ideas from our community. This is an important topic for us - Idea Bounty is a crowdsourcing site and thus the debate directly influences who we are.
Take a look at this video filmed at the 2009 SXSW conference which nicely lays out the arguments for and against crowdsourcing.
Clearly the argument positions brands, amateur contributors and professional designers on a spectrum of costs and benefits.
Some of the most often cited arguments are the following:
- The separation between the creative and the brand means the subtleties of the brand communications process is lost and results in sub-standard work.
- Some have suggested that the best of the best wouldn’t spend time on crowdsourcing, and that it's something for amateurs. Resulting in sub standard work that damages the industry as a whole.
- That crowdsourcing gets free and unremunerated work from a large pool of people, which is only in the brand’s interest.
We thought long and hard about all these points of view before setting up Idea Bounty. Here is our viewpoint on the issues and how we have tackled them:
Firstly, the briefs are developed and refined by the brand involved as well as the planners (with plenty of industry experience) here at Idea Bounty – they are carefully considered in order to ensure the briefs communicate clearly and accurately what is needed by the brand. Sure,some people just dont read the brief properly, but thats the nature of asking thousands of people to contribute :)
We will only host briefs asking for ideas and not finished designs/crafted work. While there is merit in the argument that a strategic idea can take time to be developed and it's long term financial value cannot be evaluated until its realised, we think that as long as the incentive is clear upfront it becomes an economic decision of 'how much is my time worth'. Chantelle - the winner of the Levis brief - walked away with $3000 for an idea she spent one hour on. While you may spend more, your time investment is entirely up to you.
We believe that anyone can have a good idea – while excellent implementation may be restricted to skilled professionals – conceptual idea creation can be carried out by anyone from any field (which we actually see as a strength of this model). When it comes to implementation, whoever is the expert in the medium best suited to the idea can be brought in by the brand in question. Idea Bounty is not a creative agency, rather a place to cultivate great ideas that the clients can implement as they choose.
To answer the last point, just incase you thought we weren't thinking about the creatives - we do everything in our power to make sure the ideas remain the intellectual property of the person who submitted it.
While we don’t guarantee remuneration, if your idea isn’t chosen your idea is not used without you getting payment for it. In other words if there is a brief with a bounty of $3000 and there are two ideas a client wants to purchase they have to pay $3000 for each idea. We think this is great - it means that an idea is yours until it is bought from you - our terms and conditions prohibit a client from using an idea unless they have paid for it, and yes we have the necessary legal documents for the creatives to have a leg to stand on. Our most valuable asset are the over 2000 creatives that trust Idea Bounty - if you weren't happy using the site and submitting ideas where would we be?
So we wanted to give our opinion on things. Tell us what you think. Comment or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org