A thoughtful critique of crowd-sourced design contests?
July 19, 2011 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Looking for thoughtful essays and/or screeds on the evils of "crowd-sourced" design contests, or design by committee in general?

I'm hoping to convince some very gifted writers and journalists of the folly of commissioning a user-submitted design contest. Of course these sorts of things always generate outrage among designers when they come about, but I can't think of any sustained arguments against them to which I can link.

Do you have a favorite thoughtful critique of crowd-sourcing, spec work, or the democratization of design? Thanks, MeFites!
posted by coolhappysteve to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: NO!SPEC
posted by clearlydemon at 7:57 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Crowd sourcing isn't design by committee.
posted by devnull at 7:58 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: devnull, true enough. But, as I'm witnessing with the contest in question, once you empower a bunch of laypeople to create, they also are quite profuse in their critiques of other designs, including high-quality ones. So it feels relevant although you're right it's a separate issue.

Thanks to others for the great links already!
posted by coolhappysteve at 8:05 AM on July 19, 2011

Meetings of any sort, along with a healthy dollop of collaboration too!
posted by mfoight at 8:13 AM on July 19, 2011

Do designers also oppose things like the contest for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial? Was that considered spec work as well as since only one the of 2,573 entries was compensated? Does this apply to poetry competitions and such as well?
posted by zeikka at 8:47 AM on July 19, 2011

Not an argument against crowd-sourcing per se, but the #savejon scandal from back in 2009 is a good example of how crowd-sourcing can go bad. If you give completely random people a chance to win some sort of contest, a decent number of them are going to cheat in some way, and the end result can be that winner has passed off someone else's work as their own.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:48 AM on July 19, 2011

Best answer: Orthogonality's passionate takedown of Givewell crowd-sourcing their website design seems relevant here. I would think journalists would be especially sensitive to a perception that they do not add value.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:35 AM on July 19, 2011

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