Sunday, December 2, 2012

Civic Crowdfunding - Encouraging Participation

Sacrifice will always be distinguished from the pure gift (if there is any). The sacrifice proposes an offering but only in the form of a destruction against which it exchanges, hopes for, or counts on a benefit, namely, a surplus-value or at least an amortization, a protection, and a security. - Jacques Derrida
In my post on civic crowdfunding...I shed a few tears because I can't take any credit for setting us on the path to pragmatarianism.  In my last post...which was on peer progressivism...I shared this passage by  Steven Johnson...
If you look at Wikipedia for's extraordinary that it works. It's extraordinary that so many people are willing to contribute to this thing without even the kind of social prestige of some of these systems really doesn't exist in Wikipedia in the sense that it is very hard to get credit. It's very hard to kind of approach somebody and say, "hey, these three sentences in that Charles Dickens entry I wrote a couple years ago". That doesn't get you a free drink in the bar. But somehow it works...this miraculous thing keeps happening.
In my post...I shared the economic concepts which explain this "miracle"...but now I'd like to offer an insight that challenges the assumption that a system of credit does not exist.

Recently I created a stub for a popular business adage...the customer is king.  As you can see...another editor nominated it for deletion.  In the discussion on whether or not it should be deleted...the following exchange took place...
Sue Rangell:  Delete.  Wikipedia is not the urban dictionary. I have a feeling that someone is literally going through the urban dictionary and creating wikipedia pages to boost their creation count. I wish there was a speedy delete tag that we could use for these.
Xerographica: You mean we get credit for every page we create? Where can I go to see how many pages that somebody has created? How many pages have I created?
Xerographica: Woah, you have way more credit than I do! *runs over to browse the urban dictionary* 
If you click on that link you can see a list of all the pages that I can take credit for having created.  Personally...while I didn't know for certain that such a tool existed...I strongly suspected that it did exist.  My suspicion turned out to be correct...and we can surmise that all the seasoned editors of Wikipedia know of its existence.  Therefore...a system of prestige does exist...but it's usually hidden behind the scenes.

When it comes to encouraging participation in civic seems fairly intuitive that we would want a well developed and highly visible system of prestige.  Hopefully it should go without saying that people should have the option to make anonymous donations...but the standard operating procedure should be to give credit where credit is due.  

In his post...No Tax Increase Without Recompense...Miles Kimball referred to an earlier post of his...Scott Adams’s Finest Hour: How to Tax the Rich...where he discussed Scott Adam's post How to Tax the Rich.

There's a ton of great ideas in those posts that civic crowdfunding organizations can utilize to help encourage people to contribute to public projects.  

My suggestion is to allow contributors to share a link of their choice.  Consider these successfully funded projects...

Out of those three...Spacehive has the best format because it displays the top funders, sorted by contributions, right next to the project. is not as effective because you have to click on a tab in order to see the doesn't display how much each funder contributed.  The least effective is Citizinvestor because it doesn't even show who helped fund the project. and Citizinvestor should follow Spacehive's lead and display the top funders on the landing page.   But rather than only linking to each funder's profile page...each funder should have the option to display a link to any webpage of their choice.

For example...if I contributed to a project then I'd have the option to include a link.  Perhaps I'd choose to share a link to my blog.  That would allow me to track exactly how many visitors were being referred to me by that specific project.  Business owners would be able to share links to their businesses and non-profits would be able to share links to their non-profits.

This would help add value for the contributors.  Not only would they be contributing to a good cause but they would also be receiving "free" publicity for other projects that they wanted to help support.

The more money that somebody contributes...the higher up they'd be displayed on the list...and the more exposure their own projects would receive.  So in essence...each public project would function as a publicity auction where contributors could bid against each other for the top slots.

Would this idea also work for tax choice?  Sure...I don't see why not.  If you gave your taxes to the Environmental Protection Agency...then I don't see why you shouldn't have the option to include a link to a webpage of your choice.

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