How crowd participation varies over time for a successful crowdsourcing implementation – Case of Crisis Management?

The extent of crowd participation in a crowdsourcing implementation is one of the most important determinants of its potential success. It’s widely argued that greater the crowd participation, the more likely the crowdsourcing implementation will be useful. By crowd participation I mean the number of people participating in the crowdsourcing implementation. For example – the crowd participation for Wikipedia will be the number of people who have contributed articles to it.

Some time back, I had a discussion with Anahi Ayala about the level of crowd participation for a crowdsourcing based crisis management initiative and here is a placeholder of the ideas discussed. We based our discussion on the following key points:

  1. Is there a distinct pattern to the crowd participation in crowd-sourcing implementation in crisis situations?
  2. How does the participation vary with time?
  3. Is there a definite pattern of crowd participation in successful initiatives?

The general thoughts below are based on our understanding of crowdsourcing implementations and these thoughts are expected to act as a foundation stone for the modelling of crowd participation over time. These thoughts are not based on any specific data right now. I am keen to hear comments of practitioners about this and hopefully in the future, analyse the data on crowd participation to find out the veracity of the thoughts below.

General Thoughts

The crowd participation is expected to follow the bell curve with the crowd participation increasing over time and then steadily declining. However, the spread of the curve may vary from one implementation to another, which essentially determines the success.

Broadly, the crowd participation may be generalized into three categories:

  1. Well Spreadout Bell Curve – Case of a ‘successful’ implementation

  1. It is characterized by a wider growth decline cycle.
  2. Crowd participation of a successful implementation is expected to follow this trend.
  3. In this case, crowd participation sustains itself over a larger span of time.
  4. Represents greater level of crowd participation.
  1. Thin Bell Curve – Case of a ‘not-so’ successful implementation


    1. Shows that the crowd participation grew fast, and then waned away quickly.
    2. Characterized by a narrower growth-decline cycle
    3. Not the ideal level of crowd participation for an implementation.
    4. If crowd participation shows this trend, the implementation must have done something wrong.


  2. Double Bell Curve – Case of ‘Most common’ implementations

  1. Most of the implementations tend to follow this trend.
  2. Represents the case where some factors may reduce the participation only to force revision of strategies from implementers to improve participation again.
  3. The first dip (represented by an arrow) is where the revision of strategies takes place.

About Ankit Sharma

Born in Kashmir, Alumni of London School of Economics, Currently working for the Royal Bank of Scotland, Living in London with absolute passion and hope in the user of Information Technology to solve social problems.
This entry was posted in Crisis Management, Crowdsourcing, ICT4D. Bookmark the permalink.

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