Google+, Twitter, Facebook: the new capitals of crowdsourcing?

August 16th, 2011 by

microtask_google_plusA few days ago I was instructed by our Dear Leader, Ville Miettinen, to figure out Microtask’s strategy for Google+. Luckily for me, Google hasn’t actually released any proper business profiles just yet. In fact, the Mountain View giant is actively deleting profiles of companies, websites and other commercial upstarts trying to get their brands on G+.

Denied the chance to create a wordy strategy document (don’t worry, I’ll get over it), I’ve been road-testing Google’s new social network as a personal user. Like most early adopters, my first impressions have been generally positive. The UI is clean and well thought-out (though let’s wait until GoogleAds arrive before rejoicing too much). The “circles” concept seems like a truly innovative feature and could be what distinguishes G+ from rivals Facebook and Twitter.

Spheres of influence
G+ circles allow users to divide contacts into separate “watertight” compartments. Google combines the idea of sharing with friends (as in Facebook lists) with the possibility of gaining followers (see Twitter). Of course, it can get a bit tricky when selecting who sees what but that’s easily fixed with a bit of careful contact sorting (or, failing that, a groveling apology to your boss/ spouse/ mother-in-law). The result of all this social engineering is that G+ is potentially a very interesting new crowdsourcing space: a way to crowdsource problems via both friends and unknown-but-supportive followers.

The reluctant crowdsourcer
A few months ago I came across this article in a web design magazine. Like many people in the design community, the author is very skeptical about crowdsourcing. However, after a couple of paragraphs of complaining, the tone of the article changed. Suddenly, the writer started describing a revolutionary form of “good” collaborative crowdsourcing.

So what caused this astonishing breakthrough? The author discovered that Twitter followers are often willing to help with complex problems, for free. Driven to despair by some non-functioning JavaScript and CSS sheets, our crowdsourcing detractor tried tweeting for help. The request prompted ten answers and, in a matter of minutes, the problem was solved and life was beautiful once again.

It’s clear that social networks have great potential as crowdsourcing hotspots.
With their wide networks of users, I think Twitter and G+ have an advantage over Facebook’s narrower “friends only” model (as one disillusioned user commented: “asking for advice on Facebook sometimes feels like asking my dog for an opinion on the stock market”). But there is still one nagging problem. As a Dilbert strip perfectly summarizes:

- How many Twitter followers do you have?
- None.
- The world has judged you.


  • M5

    Unfortunately, the circles aren’t separated very well. I have had professional and personal contacts being suggested to each other, which I found unacceptable. I have cancelled my google+ account.