We’ve applied to the Knight Foundation’s 2011 News Challenge for seed funding. Now, help us improve our pitch. Would you use it? What’s really cool? What’s missing? Our comment forum beckons.
CrowdTrust is a web-based service to help small newsrooms and independent reporters improve their investigative reporting with a “brain trust” of interested community members, subject experts and crowdsourcing pros.
We offer three essential products: experienced project management support, an innovative user-centric architecture and one-stop access to open-source technological tools, leveraging many News Challenge winners:
• Ushahidi/Swift River text, web, mobile and voice data collection systems
• Data visualization programs including Vidi, MapBox, CrowdMap, ManyEyes, and Google chart APIs
• Searchable, online document storage through DocumentCloud
• Data verification programs like Swift River’s new trusted reporter and analysis apps
• Curation and contextual tools, such as Storify, Qrait, Publish2 and Qwiki
• Multi-platform tools that integrate real time search, mobile, audio and video newsgathering apps/software such as those featured in MobileActive’s media toolkit.
CrowdTrust uses an innovative research-based approach to the human needs intrinsic to effective participation: social connections, game mechanics and user experience.
Interviews with a broad range of multi-platform newsrooms and independent reporters (journalists and bloggers) point to four primary challenges facing participatory journalism: work flow, data authenticity/veracity, workforce management and community building. In contrast, community members who have participated in news crowdsourcing complain about a lack of communication, social isolation, and task/goal ambiguity.
(see CrowdTrust needs PDF)
By embedding a behavioral framework into CrowdTrust, we minimize the friction points that create unnecessary havoc in managing the process and cause users to become frustrated.
We’ve created a system that allows reporters to launch and manage a crowdsourcing project in eight steps:
1: Upload project request: The reporter is guided through a confidential survey to unpack the data/information needs.
2: Consultation: The CrowdTrust pro team generates a suggested project plan, tool recommendations and microtask list. The reporter always retains control over the project.
3: Make the pitch: Post an open call to recruit a specified number of helpers via our volunteer corps and/or an embedded invite button to encourage the news site’s readers to register through FacebookConnect, Twitter or OpenID.
4: Hit the goal: The pitch is akin to that used by Spot.us for crowdfunding stories with a twist — instead of funding reporters seek volunteers.
5: Go!: Once a crowd signs onto the project, game mechanics, like leveling and group cooperation are activated.
6: Get busy: The project page displays a sequential list of microtasks alongside volunteer names, performance incentives and deadlines. As tasks are completed, more complex work is added, such as audio/video reports or document analysis, with higher-order rewards until the project is completed.
7: Stay connected: The behavioral framework responds to the crowd’s need for social interaction and feedback. Users can create custom profiles, linked to their social media accounts, to boost authenticity and promote community. Personal and project leaderboards based on performance points provide social proof and build community status.
8: A story is born. Users can also organize their own investigations to create a sense of community ownership and social change.
(see CrowdTrust process PDF).
Intrigued? Read the rest of our proposal at the Knight News Challenge site and add your comments. Ratings gratefully accepted too.