Crowd Doing: Fostering participation in commons-based peer production (CBPP) communities

(This post is by the UCM (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) team: Samer HassanPablo Ojanguren, Antonio Tapiador and Antonio Tenorio)

The P2Pvalue project is happy to introduce its app concept to help commons-based peer production (CBPP) communities: Pear2Pear.

Pear2Pear is a mobile-first, responsive web and app. At the moment it’s only available for Android, but accessible from the other platforms as well. It supports the following strategic objectives:

  • To support the research objectives of the P2Pvalue projects (communication, collaboration, value metrics, rewards).

  • To allow flexibility, supporting different types of communities (free software, social centers, makerspaces, etc.) and a changing scope.

To be a community-centered design; that is, based on actual users and actual community needs.

In addition to these strategic objectives, the concept tackles the major issues of community roles according to the power-law segmentation (as introduced in this previous post):

  • Issues for users lurkers or consumers (90%)

    • Checking if she is aligned with the principles/values/aims of the community.

    • Exploring what is happening and what is consumed.

    • Helping meet new people and matching profiles.

  • Issues for active members (9%)

    • To help others, to lead initiatives (e.g. perform modifications, make progress, etc.).

    • To get recognition from others.

  • Issues for core members (1%)

    • To support community sustainability.

    • To delegate and share responsibilities.

    • To assess the community by knowing what is happening and getting feedback on new proposals.


Searching for communities in the P2Pvalue platform

Firstly, the app is an exploratory place for community initiatives inspired by the “crowdfunding” concept: it seeks to link community needs to potential helper/contributor users, highlighting pending work. This way, a bidirectional flow is implemented:

  • from initiatives to the rest of the community: displaying what they need to make progress.

  • from the community to the initiatives, people can express what initiatives they like, which ones they can contribute to, and how.

Of course, any person can easily propose and start initiatives, reducing the friction as much as possible. We think this approach helps build a unified community vision, as long as it is an easy and encouraging way to start participating in the community.


A crowddoing view of a community

We must remark that the term “initiative” is used here as a liquid concept. This concept refers to several types of entities:

  • Projects: referring to a collective effort with a clear purpose, schedule and tasks, but in which resources might not yet have been allocated.

  • Initiatives: referring to a set of ideas already supported by the community, but which has not yet been defined as a project.

  • Proposals: referring to a inchoate set of ideas under discussion. They could come from any user who wants support or feedback.


The collaboration space of the community in the P2Pvalue Platform


Secondly, the platform provides a collaboration workspace for each initiative with three main tools:

A collaborative real-time editing tool, like an Etherpad or Google Drive Document. These are “living” documents, in which special types of contents could be deployed (widgets), hence allowing the extension of the platform’s functionalities.

A flexible needs-list to track an initiative’s work as well as communication with an initiative’s non-members. This list of needs is shown for non-members and periphery of the communities in the “CrowdDoing” view, where they can find a need they can help with and start contributing.

Social features are not left out of the P2Pvalue app. Users will be able to check out other’s profiles and start relationships across initiatives. Also, a mobile instant chat is provided where initiative members can have discussions as well as get updates from notes and “needs” in real-time. The app includes notifications for your smartphone reporting new messages in the chat.

Next steps on the platform will be to provide a dashboard of participation and progress. In that sense, the 1% role users could assess the progress of the community, and take decisions about where help is needed, or when to delegate. Although this is a feature typically intended for the 1% user role, it could also benefit the rest of the participants by making them aware of the community’s status.

In-detail design and development will be done according to the evolution of the use of the platform during the forthcoming months.

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