Remaining Balance


Share your thoughts: Leveraging monetary incentives for crowdsourcing creative work




Discussion Context

During the Bounties x Rimble workshop on Day 1 of DevconV, a discussion was ignited by a number of attendees about the innate problems surrounding monetary incentivization of creative work (specifically design) executed in a "competition" style format with a large number of participants.

The problems discussed are not new, and have existed for years in instances where the crowdsourcing of creative work often assumes this form. When the relationship between "client" and worker in these contexts is not 1 to 1, but 1 to many, a host of challenges present themselves.

Primary challenges include:

  • The "client" not having the budget to pay a typical rate to every participant, especially in instances where the pool of participants is large. This often results in the majority of participants not receiving what they would consider fair compensation for the time spent on their work.

  • When a "client" sets a price on a creative endeavor without the input of the individuals that will be completing the work, it is common for the worker to feel that their skills and expertise are undervalued before work even begins: a serious deterrent from particpation.

  • The common lack of intrinsic motivation: If the primary incentive in a format such as the one described above is monetary, individuals who are typically able to earn x amount for their time and effort will not work for less than x unless there is intrinsic motivation for them to do so. This results in decreased interest in general, and lower quality work from the individuals that do decide to participate at the risk of not receiving a payout that would typically be considered fair by industry standard.

Let's continue the discussion.

  • What other innate problems exist in these scenarios?
  • Is it possible to maintain the 1 to many client-worker format for crowdsourcing creative work without the result of participants falling victim or being deterred?
  • Is it possible to facilitate these types of engagements in a manner that would be considered "fair" with the absence of intrinsic motivation? What does this look like?

The purpose of this bounty is to provide a space for continued open discussion about these difficult problems. As we and others in the space explore the many opportunities that exist to leverage crypto-economic incentives to motivate individuals across the globe to act in different ways, we acknowledge the importance of having critical discussions like this so that the platforms and products we build using these structures and mechanisms stray away from the use of patterns that take advantage of users.

Since this bounty itself could be considered a crowdsourced creative endeavor, let's allow it to act as an experiment:

As per the suggestion of a certain workshop attendee, the payout for this bounty will be an absolute minimum in order to still host it on The Bounties Network. There is no value being placed on the ideas that you decide to share. There are no minimum or ideal requirements. There are no prizes. The goal is that the intrinsic motivation to participate in the collective identification of the problems and solutions surrounding this topic will act as the incentive for those who are interested to participate.

I'm excited to hear what you all have to share 💜

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Here's a few of my thoughts:

  • I think we can't get rid of this contest style thing for creative work because it's creative work - comes down to preference rather than "expertise"
  • What we can do is narrow it down. Make a wide contest for portfolio submissions, have micro rewards for anyone picked for the next round.
  • Simply pick the one whose style you like the most
  • If there's multiple, make it a contest for 1 simple thing between them - something that only takes, say, half an hour of work, and pay each one of them fairly regardless of whether you picked them or not.
  • There will be Intrinsic motivation for the ones that have no portfolio they can showcase


Creative Contest / Bounties:

I think the conversation here can become quite convoluted if specific use-cases and perimeters are not used to ground the problem space. A bounty that is trying to source user-research or low level input should be categorically separated from one that is seeking actual production of work, in which case the approach to how the bounty is run should be completely different [perhaps that exact lack of clear separation within the breakout session caused people to be confused as to what was expected out of them and how to cognitively align the value of their input] (more on that below).

The conversation will focus mainly only creative production bounties:

Re: "Purpose" - Let's be real, Contest sites will always exist and for good reason. There is a clear market for them both from the supply and the demand side. More important is to understand why should bounties for creative work exist in the first place? If the purpose of Bounties network is to become another contest platform for creative work it can do so with ease. If the purpose of the network is to make it easy to find high quality production from specialized experts in the field, then the current mechanisms implemented are not geared for that objective.

Re: "Budget / Fair compensation" - I personally do not think fair compensation is the underlying issue, but more so the systems design considerations required for competition to exist without wasted effort. The variances on what is considered fair compensation based on demographics is understandably quite broad. So it becomes imperative to understand the demographic you are targeting with each bounty and what the intended outcome is.

Re: "Intrinsic motivations" - Intrinsic motivations are great for efforts that help individuals align to their self-schema and connect to a larger purpose. Finding and leveraging those key motivators for each task at hand is not an easy undertaking for the uninitiated individuals and projects creating the bounties in the first place.

Re: "Wasted Effort" - The main concern with the competition model is the wasted effort and lack of guarantee for payout for the labor. One way to combat this is to assign each "creative bounty" to only one individual at a time based on their existing portfolio of work. However, the challenge here becomes that the platforms that do facilitate this rely on a reputation system, which is great in theory but makes it extremely difficult for new entrants to thrive and earn the same wages regardless of their skills causing a downward spiral of both quality and prices.

Moving forward: The exciting opportunity here is the ability to go back to first principles and rethink how cryptographic and Web3 technology can actually help overcome these challenges by designing a mechanism that obfuscates certain signals in a manner that puts matching work based on the bounty claimers portfolio in front of the bounty maker to be selected based strictly on the best fit / merit of the work being presented to them. I am sure this provides enough context for you understand what this system ends up looking like and what problems it overcomes in the long-term as the network scales.

Now just let me know to which Consensys office address I should send the invoice for the consultation?