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Smart Mobs » Blog Archive » Assignment Zero: Valuable Lessons

Nice cliff notes form Smartmobs on Assignment Zero lessons. I love the key lesson takes an organizer to make an online organizing system first. I can not believe how many web2.0 companies that want to work with organizing people never include organizers and activists in the short list of folks to test things.

* Assignment Zero Lesson #1: Figure out a way to engage participants as soon as they show up.
"rebuilt each topic page to include social networking features. The relevant editor’s picture and contact e-mail were placed at the top of each page, and each topic area now included a forum. The idea was to make each topic a sort of home page, a community gathering-place. The effect of this reorganization was felt immediately, as contributors could now collaborate openly with each other and review one another’s reporting. This certainly reinforced one of the lessons that was learned from reporting on various crowdsourcing projects: Essentially, it’s all about the community.

This demonstrated another lesson: The community controls the scope and direction of the project. “We had to jettison most of the topics we’d started off with,” says Cohn. “Instead, we concentrated on the topics that people were most clearly interested in.”

* Assignment Zero Lesson #2: Test tools, technology and processes in real world conditions prior to launching project
Another note from the quote above, is that subject matter for AssignmentZero was pre-selected in a mostly top-down way. Consequently, contributors ended up selecting the topics they were interested in, and ignoring those they weren’t. There are some different possible ways this might have been approached in hindsight. Contributors might have been given the opportunity to vote on content choices during the first week or so of the project. Or, group selection by vote on potential content could have been a “phase” of the project, prior to launching the actual writing phase.

* AssingmentZero Lesson #3: Give contributors more direct input and control over the subject matter of content, allowing them to self-select as a group the subjects they are most interested in writing about.