How Not to Handle Crowdsourcing

ONNED logo

If you are going to engage in crowdsourcing or social design, make sure you follow etiquette and take the project seriously.

The advice came from Evangelos Kapros as he told of the mess the youth wing of the Greek Conservative Party (ONNED) got itself in to with a logo competition.

What started as someone’s idea of a “cool” way to crowdsource a new logo soon turned to farce when the political group antagonized the Greek Graphic Designers Association, drew ridicule, became a mocking meme, and launched a public campaign to saddle the young conservatives with the crappiest logo in town (shown above).

A native of Greece and a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, Kapros (@ekapros) was speaking at this month’s Refresh Dublin (@refreshdublin) in the Science Gallery (@sciencegallery). His talk was called Social Design as Social Reponsibility.

The conservative youth group made a number of funamental errors in its campaign, Kapros said. The first was timing by planning the competition as the 20-year anniversary of the political murder of school teacher Nikos Temponeras approached. Kapros said the killing is a sensitive issue in Greece and newspapers were preparing retrospective articles on an event that conservative youth at the time were implicated in.

Another problem was the organization of the competition, Kapros said. It should have been a straight-forward matter of taking nominations and votes. Instead it was shambolic. It was not clear who the judges were. Application of the youth group’s own rules were suspect. For example, logos too similar in appearance to existing ones were banned, but some stayed in the competition while others were ejected.

“They managed to make a joke of the whole thing,” Kapros said. “They didn’t play by the rules but the people who voted in the competition did play by their rules.”

With enough people antagonized and political opponents ready to have some fun, people decided to log on to the competition in an effort to make the worst logo win. They found one (shown above) in the “so bad it’s good caterogory,” Kapros said.

After organizing a vote to make it win, the young conservatives saw something was afoot and pulled the logo from the competition.

Countermoves were launced to find the next worst logo, and the cat-and-mouse game led to the birth of the Logo 31 Movement. Online petitions, Twitter and Facebook campaigns, websites, and organized voting characterized the fight back, Kapros said. Such was the level of interest that the campaign trended on Twitter in Greece for months.

But a crowdsourcing effort that did not play by the rules drew even more negative publicity and ridicule, Kapros said.

After the dust had settled, he decided to investigate the protesters’ motivation by setting up an online survey. He asked why people took part. Kapros showed some pie charts at the talk. A rough estimate on the result are: Around 10% of respondents said they believed in the cause, around 30% said they wanted their digital actions to have an impact on the real world, 30% wanted to ridicule the party and 30% did it for the hell of it.

Asked why they thought others did it: 70% guessed others were having fun, over 10% supported the cause, while a little under 10% each cited digital actions and ridicule. Kapros said he was surprised at the difference in opinions.

Interpreting the results, he said people may claim not to care. Or they may claim to be cynical. But ultimately, “I think we care more than we think we do.”