My talk for State of the Map 2016: Building large-scale crowdsourcing communities with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap TeamPosted by dekstop on 21 November 2016 in English (English)
I just saw that the video for my SotM16 talk has already been online for a month… many thanks to the organisers and video team in Brussels for making this happen so quickly, and in such a high quality! You can find some summary notes further below, along with recommendations to HOT organisers.
(This was recorded at the tail end of an unusually busy summer, after a couple of weeks of deadlines on little sleep, in a morning slot, with little time for rehearsal… throughout these short 30 mins I really, really wanted to go back to bed. If you know me a little you might notice it in the recording, everyone else may simply think I’m a little slow :)
Among the key observations to date
The talk summarises much of my research to date. It includes updated statistics and visualisations, and the results of three studies of HOT community engagement.
Over the course of this work, I’ve stopped thinking about community engagement as a process of “converting” people. Instead I now also think of it as a process of discovering and activating the right people: many of our most prolific contributors were already prepared to be engaged. Maybe they were looking for community, for a spare-time activity that has a bigger impact than just watching TV; maybe they already had some GIS experience and didn’t know they can use it for a social purpose. In this sense, fostering community engagement is as much about the initial recruiting process as it is about the actual contribution process.
Among the key observations to date:
- HOT is now a key source of community growth for OSM: among the 32,000 HOT contributors to date, 80% are newcomers to OpenStreetMap! (I have not yet investigated whether they then also contribute to other parts of the map.)
- Over their contributor lifetime, 50% of HOT mappers dedicate at least 65 minutes to their contributions. This may sound like a small average for a volunteering organisation, but for an online platform it’s a massive achievement.
- Emergency response events can also be key recruiting moments: during HOT activations for Typhoon Haiyan, the Nepal earthquake in 2015, the earthquake in Ecuador in 2016, and others, many new volunteers joined HOT.
- … and much, much more.
Recommendations to organisers
In the talk I also make some recommendations to HOT organisers, based on study findings, and informed by my interactions with the wider community:
- During large disaster events, carefully manage the tasking manager task listing. People who join during these events don’t tend to stay active for long, and their contributions tend to have a lower quality. Point them towards newcomer-friendly projects where they can make some early experiences.
- At the same time, HOT can likely benefit greatly from a notification mechanism for contributors who are interested in future campaigns. Currently there is no good means of reactivating mappers who have already made some early experiences. Instead we rely on our volunteers to discover new campaigns on the mailing list or on social media. While this may work for the core community, there is likely a larger number of mappers who may be willing to help out again. How can we best inform them when they’re needed?
- Generally, try to connect newcomers to the existing community as soon as possible, and do so in a setting that is appropriate for absolute beginners. The mailing list works well for a few hundred core contributors. Yet as we grow, is it still the best default location for a newcomer who has a question for an expert?