Crowdsourcing: Why It Doesn't Work - The UpStream

Crowdsourcing: Why It Doesn't Work

posted Sunday Aug 12, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Crowdsourcing: Why It Doesn't Work

When you source a project on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or one of 450 other international crowdsourcing websites, how do you know that anything the person is saying is possible? Sure, most of these sites provide certain securities to protect the funders from being tricked, but it doesn't protect against everything. For example, take a man who knows no practical skills about what might work on Kickstarter and have him offer to write a book about what might work on Kickstarter and launch a project to fund it on Kickstarter. That seems to be exactly what happened.

Glenn Fleishman, a freelance tech writer, decided he had covered crowdsourcing enough in his articles to write a book, so he launched Crowdfunding: a Guide to What Works and Why, a project for him to write a book about the topic he thought he knew. He produced his sales pitch video where he came across like he had just enough information to make the video and not quite write a book and put the project up on July 6th. On July 23rd, he canceled the project with no warning. He wrote on his blog,

I've opted today to suspend my book's crowdfunding campaign at Kickstarter. The project is only a bit over 10% funded and unlikely to succeed. But I'm happy about it. Why? Have I gone crazy? No. I learned an enormous amount through this effort.

You certainly read that right. There's a lot more to read after the break, and I'm not asking for $25 to continue.

Yes, he suspended a book about what works in crowdsourcing because it wasn't going to be funded. You couldn't make a story like that up if you were Aaron Sorkin. This story is a lot less about one man with dreams of grandeur and more about many men and women with dreams of grandeur, all funded by anonymous people who, in their minds, will throw money at their monitors for any stupid idea or concept that you are not intimately familiar with.

As crowdcourcing for technology products becomes more popular, there are a lot of concerns for me. A couple of employees at our sister company have been excited about an open-source videogame console that is just wrapping up its funding, but I cannot get excited about it, even if you were to remove the open-source aspect from the project. These people who are running the project have no real-world experience in this industry, instead want to make money off of a lot of other people's work. Unfortunately, what projects like this usually forget is that manufacturing of a product, especially a tech product, is a complex project that will likely sink their endeavor.

If a man with writing experience who has covered crowdsourcing news for a couple of years cannot be successful writing a book about crowdsourcing, how can anyone expect to be successful with a physical technology product with no experience? For the sake of the people who have thrown money (and A LOT of it, $8,596,475 in fact) at their monitors for this product, I hope it comes to fruition, but I would be wary of scams, like a book about crowdsourcing success that doesn't succeed at being crowd funded.


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