Bad behavior Mike | June 20th, 2008

We think there are many benefits to contributing your work to projects on crowdSPRING. Not only are there cash awards to be won, community to be built and enjoyed, and clients to be found, but there is learning to be had. We understand that designers learn a great deal from watching what their peers are creating, listening to what others say about their own work, and absorbing criticism in its most glorious form: feedback.

We find ourselves faced with a serious challenge and are working hard to do something about it. The challenge is this: how can we encourage buyers to give feedback, teach them the importance of giving feedback, and convince them of the benefits that come from giving feedback? Forcing buyers to do this by creating rules is like forcing your kids not to bicker – a lost cause. It just won’t work. What works best wth kids is to convince them that benefits will accrue if they just stop bothering one another.

Sometimes buyers post rude comments or give low quality feedback or no feedback at all. This type of bad behavior not only discourages creatives, but is corrosive to the entire community we are creating. The impact on the buyer and their project is also negative. Bad buyer behavior leads to fewer entries (less choice), fewer creatives participating (less creativity), and more buyers invoking the 25 entry guarantee and asking for a refund (less satisfaction all around). There is also a negative cycle which develops and, over time, will lead to even more more bad buyer behavior. New buyers often browse to look at the projects that are posted and the work being entered. When they see low-quality feedback, or no feedback at all, they assume that it is the norm and they imitate that bad behavior in their own newly-posted project. Bad. We have to do everything we can to break this cycle quickly. We have to educate buyers; we have to “moderate” projects; and we have to teach best practices and build the best community.

The first part of the strategy is to educate buyers wherever they turn on the site. We already have several efforts underway:

  1. We have added a new “congratulations page” on which a buyer lands as soon as their project is posted. This page lays out 3 simple steps to a successful project and STRONGLY encourages feedback.
  2. We have made some changes to the notifications a buyer receives when there is new activity in their project. We encourage scoring and feedback to ALL new entries.
  3. We are carefully watching projects and, when we see one with low traffic or minimal feedback, we are proactively contacting the buyer to stress the importance of feedback.
  4. We are preparing a series of screencasts, including one on best practices in managing a project. What does it emphasize? Feedback, of course.

How can creatives help? Be vocal when you witness bad behavior: send the buyer a PM, post a comment in the Activity tab, comment on the project in the forums; send the buyer a link to the comment in the forums; submit a beautiful new entry which, instead of a concept for the buyer to consider, simply says “FEEDBACK PLEASE!” If enough of us act as volunteer “moderators” we can, in a short time, actually moderate this bad behavior, encourage the best of practices, and help to build out the community we want.

From many minds, the perfect design. Post your project today and let the crowd wow you!

  • fredK

    Good stuff Mike. I think I’ve only seen one project to date where the feedback was really bad though, that Poodle project. Other than that one, what’s mostly glaring is the lack of buyer activity – including feedback. There are brilliant exceptions though, and it shows in the number of entries. Can’t wait to see the screencasts!

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