How to advertise widget contest?
May 1, 2007 11:30 AM   Subscribe

I work for an NGO that is interested in holding a contest for developers and programmers to create a social networking widget. Does anyone know of how and where to advertise such a contest?

I work for an NGO in Washington, D.C. and one of our campaigns is youth-oriented. We are trying to create new ways for young people to become involved on international and social justice issues. We came up with an idea to ask developers and programmers to create a social networking widget that students can put on their MySpace or Facebook profiles. It would be branded with our campaign, but it could do anything. It could be a newsfeed, or a world map, or anything.

Unfortunately, we do not know where we would advertise for such a contest. There is $500 cash prize for the winning widget designer.
posted by wheresdabeefy to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Happy Dave at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2007

(click the contests tab)
posted by Happy Dave at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2007

eHub announces most of the 'cool' new web 2.0ish stuff. Contact the editor and maybe they will post an article.

I think your best bet is probably to set up a contest page with all the info and submission, then contact as many bloggers as possible in the web 2.0/mash-up/whatever else category and ask them to write about the contest.
posted by dripdripdrop at 12:06 PM on May 1, 2007

Also, depending what kind of 'social justicy' goals you have, an email to Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing could get you some good press.
posted by dripdripdrop at 12:20 PM on May 1, 2007

Expect a degree of hostility from professionals and semi-pros who will take offense at the idea of being asked to submit work on spec for a chance at a small prize. (For example.)
posted by mendel at 12:41 PM on May 1, 2007

Response by poster: To mendel: Do you think our "prize" is too small? Or is it more the principle, than the amount? Tx. for your answer.
posted by wheresdabeefy at 12:59 PM on May 1, 2007

Well, multiply the number of entries by the number of hours of work you expect to go into the work, and that's the hourly rate you'll be paying your designers. Divide that by the prize and that's the effective hourly rate you're offering. Is it high enough to attract professional work that you'd want representing your organization to the public?

And yes, it's the principle, mostly -- see that open letter I linked, or this site. But the principle will also filter the sort of people who will submit work. You won't get the sort of person who would usually bill $500 for the number of hours expected, because he's better off using that time for contract work instead of a contest. So this sort of contest limits itself to people whose time and work isn't very valuable to them at all.

By the time you figure in overhead, you might be better off coming up with a more solid idea of what you want ("social networking widget" is very vague) and just hiring a local college student to do it for you.
posted by mendel at 1:27 PM on May 1, 2007

(Er, that first paragraph didn't come out right, but you see what I mean.)
posted by mendel at 1:29 PM on May 1, 2007

wheresdabeefy: mendel's comment about expecting hostility is right on. The concept is basically - to turn it around - that all of your applicants are doing the work for free, and may or may not get paid for their time. Here's one brief rant about why it's a problem for you and for your applicants. So, it's not the size of the prize, it's the fact that everyone but your winner is basically giving the work away for free. (Or, what he said while I was writing this.)

One way to get around this may be to find a local university with courses where students are advancing their skills in exactly the area you need to make your cool widget, and pitching it to the professor or department as a "real-world" project that can be done in class. Then you're still getting the low-cost work, but they're getting the credits and the experience of having a "real world" client. Project-based learning is becoming a Big Thing in universities, and especially in technical classes.

The pros to this are the still-inexpensive labor and getting a widget that actually meet the needs of your organization, since you can be there to shape everything from the objectives to the concept to the UI of the widgets. You can even set it up to work with teams that have a variety of skills, so you end up with different types of widgets. It may cost you some time in terms of interacting with the students throughout the semester, but I think you'll see the value in that time when you get resuls that actually match your organization's values and goals.
posted by whatzit at 1:39 PM on May 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, Whatzit and Mendel. These are very helpful insights. I would not want to burn bridges with the pros as we may try to do this again depending on the outcome. I will ask around local universities for their input.
posted by wheresdabeefy at 1:47 PM on May 1, 2007

What mendel and whatzit said--expect crappy submissions, because professionals won't do it. Talking to schools is a good idea, though. Even if you can't find a professor who's interested, or a course that your project could be used for, a lot of schools have mailing lists for job/internship opportunities, so you could get a lot of exposure.
posted by equalpants at 1:56 PM on May 1, 2007

Agreed that pros won't take part. But as to the question, I'd suggest some taking out some advertisements on the kind of sites you expect it to be used (myspace, etc), as then you may get the person who, as a user, already has a feature in mind that they wished existed as a widget, but until this point, has lacked sufficient motivation to have a bash at it. If the $500 prize is indicative of the budget, then advertising might cost a bit much though.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:51 PM on May 1, 2007

I would seriously suggest tech-oriented college campuses. My own Carnegie Mellon University, also, MIT, Stanford, CalTech, etc.
posted by Packy_1962 at 5:07 PM on May 1, 2007

Packy_1962 is right, if you want to make this a job. If you want it forwarded to the programming-type job lists at MIT, email me (in profile).
posted by whatzit at 8:20 PM on May 1, 2007

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