Gamification & Crowdsourcing – Large Scale Problem Solving

Gamification meets Crowdsourcing

Crowdsource the problem

When we first started reading about crowdsourcing, one thing that came to mind was the image of a huge global super-computer where the processing power came from all the different people in the world! Each person would be a little part of a huge Think Tank with the brain power to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems. In a natural way, and at a steady pace, more and more people are turning to the crowd. So it’s not much of a stretch to think about how this global problem solving will probably be a reality soon enough.

Social, political and economical problems are some of the topics that fill nowadays news agencies, but they are far from being anything really new. These are problems that have accompanied the evolution of societies since the beginning of time, for human life at least. The difference is that these problems are getting more and more complex, so they require new and more efficient ways to address them. Little adjustments to the current models probably will not do the trick, so the solution is probably the engagement of the world citizens in the solving of the world problems.

That introduces the role of crowdsourcing, but how about gamification? Well, what do you think will attract more people to fill in the ranks of the crowdsourcing team?

Gamification as a motivator

I just can imagine the way the conversation would go between two friends:

– Hey dude! Have you heard about that crowdsourcing thingy that those guys from were talking about? To solve world’s problems and stuff?
– Aaaaah cool idea, how would that work?
– Well we all get together online or whatnot and solve problems, thinking, and pointing solutions and doing some research and working collaboratively.
– Well, I don’t know… that seems a lot of work, and I have some “Game of Thrones” episodes yet to see… the kids always want to go to the park… I dunno, I guess I don’t really have the time.

Yes, it’s probably for the best to make it entertaining! Not that we believe that no one would show up to help out, but in a rather smaller scale that we would probably need.
However imagine how many people would want to play the game of “Saving the World”.

One of the most important things to consider when building a video-game is the creation of meaning. The player seeks for a purpose in his actions and that is generally achieved with a line of story that stimulates the player’s imagination and consequently emulates that purpose.

In this gamified crowdsourcing problem solving think tank that is not a requirement as long as the objective and the player’s role and importance relative to the problem solving is clear enough. However if the resolution of the problem involves an hypothetical scenario, where the crowdsourcer can’t deal with the problem directly, this may prove to be a necessity, in a way helping to frame the problem effectively.

Strength assessment

For a effective problem solving, the strengths of the crowdsourcer must be assessed in a way that makes it possible to attack all the angles of the problem according to the best input that each crowdsourcer can bring to the “table”.

So the first thing to do is to define the main classes of our players. These classes should be defined in a brainstorming initiative according the needs felt by the crowdsourcers relative to the task at hand.

From each class a representative should be elected so there’s a person making sure there is cohesion between different classes and that the information is equally distributed. The group of the representatives of all different classes have also the responsibility of defining rules and enforcing them. These rules are of course created with the input of all the classes.

Another task that must be lead by these representatives is the control of the data obtained from the crowdsourcers activities. A Hall of Fame can be created to distinguish the crowdsourcers with better performance in each period of time defined by the representatives. For this performance evaluation, the data obtained should be taken in consideration, but also the vote of the peers. The use of badges, experience points based on number of contributes, regular activity and time dedicated to the problem can lead to the establishment of different ranks which distinguishes the better players along all the process.

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  1. Hi. Do you know any sites that have implemented this? If not, Were you planning on doing so?

    • Hi Briane. First of all, thank you for your comment.

      When I wrote this I was thinking about a huge, worldwide think tank. Regarding this vision, I don’t actually know of anything that works this way. I would love to create something like that, it’s actually one of my life ambitions, but unfortunately, right now, it’s not the right time for me since I don’t have the means to build it.

      I’ve found this project ( ) and I think it really goes close to what I was thinking and maybe what you’re searching for.

      In a somewhat different approach, you have a good example of crowdsourcing in where the captcha code has been used to decode text from books that computers can’t recognize. In this example the crowdsourcing part is not really voluntary but it’s a good example nonetheless.

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