Crowdsourcing describes the act of outsourcing a task to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call.Â Moderator is a new tool from Google that facilitates this practice by posing your question to the entirety a select portion of the Internet … almost.
What do I mean by almost? Glad you asked …
First, let’s go ahead and pose the question “What about Church Website design drives you batty?” as part of a topic that includes good examples of bad design which in turn is part of a larger series of questions on Church Website Design … documenting the steps in the process along the way.
- First we login using our gMail account – sorry no screenshots of passwords today kids.
- Then we click the “Create Series” button conveniently located near the sign in prompt – both towards the upper left of your browser screen.
- Fill in the form to create the series keeping in mind that what you’re doing is entering the title, description and ownership that will categorize and/or group one more questions we want crowdsourced.
NOTE – only OWNERS, identified by email can post a response to your questions – so I’ll add more later when I get things all-the-way figured out.
- Now change the top description from “Questions” to something else:
in this case “good examples of bad design.“
- Now write in your question:
in this case “What about Church Website design drives you batty?.“
- Then it’s a matter of sitting back and allowing others to vote you on or off the Island, that is:
Questions on the Google Moderator page are automatically ranked based on how many positive votes they have. If a question has 100 total votes of which 50 are positive and 50 are negative votes, it will be ranked lower than a question with 90 total votes, of which 85 are positive and only 5 are negative.
- Goto TinyURL and create a link (to the series, topic) you can hand-out:
In this case http://tinyurl.com/mod-church-website-design.
What’s next? Glad you asked … confusion.
Perhaps it’s just me and my 25 years experience – that includes working for a Wall Street concern in October of 2007 – but I’m thinking Moderator is not quite ready for prime time. Here are some questions and points where things break down for me:
- Step 3 – The ownership thing is tricky, it is how you invite others to “post a response” – otherwise all they can do is post a question. At least provide a mechanism whereby others can request to be “owners”; though I think it might be more useful if Moderator had a role of “participant.”
- Step 3a – Again – why can’t I use my current Google Address book to add owners?
- Step 4 – The topic description thing, meaning without knowing there is a hierarchy of Series->Topic->Questions, then the default “Questions” for the Topic is quite confusing.
- Step 6 – How do I share this question with you? That I had to goto TinyURL bugs the mess outta me. Okay, so if I make you an owner – you get notified – still, I dunno this bugs me.
- Step 6a – Also – I’m not entirely clear as to the utility of usinga “digg like” voting system for the questions as it makes more sense to me to rate and rank the answers!
- Step 6b – BBS – that is, if responses are limited to my circle of friends, why not just skip all the hassle and employ bulletin board like services via Drupal and/or phpBB? At least they have notifications and RSS already built in. Search too.
- Step 7 – Yeah, I know, there is no step 7 above, but it would be nice in a day an age of syndication if there were an RSS, or since this is Google, an ATOM feed to keep me posted of updates.
- Help – yeah, the online help, or should I say FAQ, is a bit hard to find in context of what you’re trying to do. Don’t make me hunt for it, I may never come back!
- Responses – so wait, I can let strangers vote, but I can’t let them enter responses? Sorta takes the crowd out of crowdsourcing don’t ya think? How about making uninvited responses “pending approval?”
- Search? – as part of Google, I’m thinking that it might be useful to better employ said engine to find series, topics and questions of interests … perhaps with it of mind-mapping thrown in?
Google Moderator truly earns it’s “Beta” moniker in its current incarnation, offering moderately utility for “crowdsourcing” for individuals wishing for limited results from a limited audience.
That and I’m not so sure my almost 80 year old mom could make sense of this system – nor would many senior church members I suspect.
Hopefully in time it’ll work out the above kinks and we can create a truly usable and collaborative crowdsourcing tool that doesn’t dissolve into a BBS-like magnet for trolls, nere-do-wells and spammers.