When the crowd trolls

Source: https://t3hwin.com/level-10-net-troll/

There are crowdsourcing campaigns that are conscientiously prepared. They are planned and designed with care. The Internet crowd is called waiting for them to participate honestly, thus obtaining valuable results … but sometimes the crowd (or an important part of it) does not agree.

With crowdsourcing, happens as with technology. In the book entitled “The Labyrinths of Information: Challenging the Wisdom of Systems“, Claudio Ciborra explains that, sometimes, a technology that is designed to perform a function, ends up being used by users to do a different thing, leaving the original function as accessory or circumstantial (Internet was never thought to sell shoes).

This happens in many crowdsourcing initiatives that seek to involve customers or potential customers/users of a brand by asking, for example, a name for a particular product or service.

There is currently an ongoing initiative carried out by SEAT (until June 22) in which the car company asks the crowd for a name of a spanish place for its next car model of 7 seats. In this way the new model name will follow the same structure of its predecesors like SEAT Ibiza (a spanish island) or SEAT Toledo (a spanish city). However, SEAT has learned from the experience of many other companies and has launched the initiative by covering their backs:

  1. The names proposed are limited to names of spanish places (cities, monuments, geographic elements …). This measure avoids many (not all) of the absurd/personal names that could be proposed (although he did not get rid of proposals like “SEAT Guarromán” o “SEAT Aveinte“) [guarroman could be literally as “dirty-man” and Aveinte as “up to twenty”).
  2. It will be SEAT itself the first one to filter all the proposals, discarding those that do not fit the criteria they have marked in the bases of the initiative: it doesn’t imply any legal problem, it’s easy to pronounce, it passes for a checkup with potential clients, etc. With this measure they avoid any trolling with the names proposed discarding the non-serious names within the spanish places.
  3. The filtered proposals and with the approval of the company, will be proposed to the crowd for a voting process in early September. Each participant will have to vote at least 3 proposals. The most voted proposal will be the winner. Here they get a good number of votes getting at least 3 for each participant.
  4. They reserve the right to “take whatever reasonable measures are necessary” in the case of any anomalous vote or after the detections of any type of fraud: cancel certain participations, delete a specific name (even if it passed the filter…) or even cancel the initiative (this would be the worst situation: there is nothing worse than asking people to participate and then not making them any case). With this measure they have an “emergency exit” in the case of total disaster.

With all these measures, SEAT ensures that the final result of the contest will not be a great FAIL. And the point is that there is a long history of initiatives in which asking the crowd’s contribution without applying a minimum “security” measures has implied the sunk of the initiative. Durex company launched a crowdsourcing initiative in 2013 asking the crowd from which locality (anyone) they wanted a new condom delivery service to be launched. The crowd chose the town of Batman (in clear allusion to the superhero). In addition to the joke with the name, it turns out that Batman is a conservative and mostly Muslim Turkish town. Maybe not the best place.

Usually, the crowd gets organized around forums (4Chan, forocoches, etc.) and social networks. From there they coordinate to boycott this type of initiatives or competitions. So they have been able to send Pitbull to promote the Kodiak WalMart (Kodiak is a small Alaska island), or to send Taylor Swift to sing in a scholl for deaf children (finally she didn’t sang, but gave them an important donation).

Both cases where in 2012, altough this kind of things still happens.

Pitbull went to the Kodiak Walmart

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