Registration Yields a Weak Number of Solvers

As an intermediary, how can you constantly find new and interested solvers around the world (i.e. people ready to propose solutions to technological problems)? You need efficient incentives to attract them on your platform, to make them subscribe, to engage them in solving problems and to release intellectual property (IP). Registration has a direct negative impact on the number of solvers, although it may be, in principle, a nice way to select supposedly motivated solvers.

Few experts register on crowdsourcing platforms

How many experts go and register on crowdsourcing platforms? 10,000? 100,000? Most famous platforms hardly reach 300,000 solvers, which is far less than the tens of millions of experts in the world. In addition, figures claimed by many companies are unclear: how can the claims of newcomers be checked? How many subscribers really want to engage in problem solving? These systems lead to a misleading competition to get the “biggest” pool of solvers, disregarding truth[1] and quality[2].

The large majority of registered solvers does not participate

Self-registration is not the right paradigm to address global expertise. Many studies show that only 1% of subscribers are active on such platforms. The largest existing Open Innovation communities have only a few thousands of active usersiv.

Solvers are not experts

Crowdsourcing means that anybody can be a solver. This is a fashionable and demagogic argument to attract a large quantity of random solvers on a platform (the large number of subscribers being an argument to attract client companies and supposedly launch the platform). But among registered solvers, not all of them are experts. Some platforms actually use this as an advantage and claim that what matters is the solutions or the ideas brought by the solvers, and not their background. This is true to some extend (user-driven innovation etc.), but idealistic for highly critical problems (as seen on most platforms) requiring a strong expertise.


[1] Some claims of recent Open Innovation platforms can be easily refuted by the use of online website statistics analyzers, showing that there can be a factor up to 30 between the reality and the claims.

[2] The same remark applies for the pool of problems (especially regarding their formulation).

The present article is after the chapter we wrote in the book “A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing: A Compendium of Best Practice, Advice and Case Studies from Leading Thinkers, Commentators and Practitioners“.

4 thoughts on “Registration Yields a Weak Number of Solvers

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  • Saturday April 9th, 2011 at 04:26 PM

    I cannot agree with your assertion that experts are needed to solve highly critical problems. There are several indications to contradict your assertion:
    (1) in many fields amateurs outperform experts in problemsolving, just one example: the GoldCorp case described by Tapscott & Williams (2007) in Wikinomcs; (2) problem-related experts are similar to your own experst: they are myopic and can hardly think out of the box, which is one important reason why you are outsourcing the problem solving. You will have to involve people from other domains, preferably a heterogeneous set of them. The best place to find them is in a crowd; and (3) finally, ‘the wisdom of the crowd’ (Surowiecki 2004) isn’t a legend or a hoax. Up to date history is surprisingly providing evidence that crowds or mass participation improves problem solving capabilities of society.

  • Sunday April 10th, 2011 at 08:40 AM

    Dear Marcel, thank you for you comment. We know well all these books and some of the people who wrote them. You are right that there are examples contradicting our point of view. However, these examples are “just” examples that contribute to build a myth. In the facts, most solutions are brought by people know the field. While I agree that a specialist in microwaves for radio-communication can maybe design a solution for microwaves applied to the field of defense, I do not believe that this can be done by any body, ie by a crowd – unless the crowd is constituted of engineers, scientists etc. And this is what we mean. We don’t crowdsource through random internaut, but through a qualified “crowd of experts”.

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