Motivating volunteers

Crowdsourcing projects like OpenStreetMap, Google Map Maker or Building Maker without compensation for contributors rely on volunteers’ efforts. There are various studies which try to shed light on the motivational factors of such volunteers. One way to motivate people to contribute their time and effort can be to make them feel that they are part of a substantial and meaningful movement.

From OpenStreetMap (OSM) we know depictions (for example graphs showing the number of nodes digitised over time, or maps) of mapping efforts. Rather famous are the videos A Year of Edits and OSM Haiti Project by Ito World showing OSM contributors’ efforts in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake near Port-au-Prince (go watch both, if you don’t know them!).

Google has also jumped on the train of visualising volunteers’ efforts: On Mapmaker Pulse they show the most recent edits on Google Mapmaker. Every edit is shown as a geometry being traced on the satellite imagery map along with its type, associated user name and location on a globe map.

Google Mapmaker Pulse showing a recent edit

While Mapmaker Pulse has its appeal, I like the afore-mentioned OSM visualisations and think they are more effective for showing contributors that they are part of a big (A Year of Edits) as well as a substantial and sensible endeavour (Haiti Project). They thus make a good job of showing the size of the project and motivating the people (about to be) involved.


One thought on “Motivating volunteers

  1. Pingback: All the edits, deletions and insertions of Wikipedia in real time? – Voilà! | visurus

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