If you are involved in running a crowdsourcing company (and many of you reading this column obviously are), you need to start thinking about establishing a code of conduct for your community of workers.
Because crowdsourcing by its very nature is competitive, the members of your community can easily move past friendly competition to cut-throat aggressiveness as they seek to have their work chosen over their follow participants.
This aggressiveness can take a number of forms, from disparaging or criticizing fellow participants in open forums on your site to taking their negative comments and posting them on related community forums on other sites. We’ve seen nasty comments going back-and-forth in forums toward the end of assignments as competitors seek to get “a leg up” on the other members of the community.
You cannot allow this type of negative influence to seep into your community. I recommend that you establish a code of conduct, prominently post the code on your website, and instruct all of your creative workers to read and abide by it.
Furthermore, you need to establish consequences for members who repeatedly ignore the code and disrupt your community. How far are you willing to go to protect the interests of your community?
Let’s discuss what you might want to include in your Code:
First and foremost, you should outline the positive actions and behaviors you want to see out of your community. Things like being respectful to fellow competitors; being positive and encouraging to those who are participating in the assignment or contest; and being courteous to all involved in the program are good places to start.
Once you’ve established your positive expectations, you must also list the types of behaviors that you will not tolerate on your site from your community members. These behaviors can include negative activities like taunting, belittling, bullying, and attacking fellow creatives. There can be no attempts at embarrassing, demeaning, or ridiculing these fellow competitors.
There is also an incredible opportunity to use the code to get your creatives involved in your site and organization by asking them to keep your company informed on things they’d like to see and things they’d like you to improve. Their input, involvement, and participation in the development of your business can prove invaluable.
We frequently get ideas from our own community for new site features or different approaches to consider in communicating with our creator base.
The code can also be a vehicle to manage expectations from your community. Our creators often ask us to make fixes or change features on our site “overnight”. The code is a good place to let our workers know that programming changes and site enhancements must be scheduled and worked on over time if they are going to be implemented at all, and they need “to be patient.”
Crowdsourcing companies need to have a code of conduct if they are to successfully navigate the community waters. A competitive environment can lead to many unforeseen problems from within the community. If you don’t have a code, create one. Put one in place, and then follow it. If someone breaks the rules, a code of conduct gives you the authority and justification to remove troublemakers from the community and shows the rest of the community that you are looking out for their best interests.