A new “Community Solution” section at New Scientist aims to solve the problem of crowdsourcing solutions to problems.
It’s a good start, says Chris Hoggart, founder of the website, but it’s not a full-fledged solution.
“There’s not really a good solution that we can show you right now, that’s for sure,” he tells TechCrunch.
“We want to make sure that we give people a clear idea of what they can expect to be able to do with our platform, and that’s going to take a little bit more time and a little more work.”
He’s quick to add, “There are a lot of really great solutions out there, but they’re all still in the beta phase.
There are a bunch of really big ideas that have been put in the wild for a long time, and they’re still a long way off.”
The team has made it easy to get involved with the project.
Anyone can start with a simple survey asking for their feedback on how the site could be improved, then join the community by answering questions and submitting your ideas.
The project has so far generated over 2,000 answers, and the site says it will be sharing them with developers to help make sure they get the right response.
The first round of submissions is being handled by Hoggard’s team, which includes a community consultant, a technical writer, a journalist and a content writer.
It won’t be easy, Hoggas says, and he’s confident that they will eventually get the community to the point where it’s possible to create a better solution.
But as a community, there’s always room for improvement.
“I think what you’ll see is a very small percentage of the people that are submitting will be really interested in solving it, and it’s going be interesting to see how that plays out,” he says.
“It’s a community solution, but if we can get that down to maybe a couple people that actually have a real need to do this, we’ll see a lot more people that will actually take the time to do it.”
For the time being, though, New Scientist is focusing on creating a great user experience.
“One of the things that we have really been focused on in the last year or two is to make the experience of doing research easier for people,” Hoggs says.
That includes making it easier to take notes, and making it easy for people to share their ideas and contribute to a solution.
And as the site has become more and more popular, the team has been trying to make its product even more useful.
“People can see a list of the suggestions that we’ve made and see what other people are doing with it, to make it more relevant,” Hogs says.
So far, the company is also experimenting with new ways of managing content and making sure it’s easy to share.
Hoggards’ team is currently working on a new version of the site, which will be fully redesigned, which should be ready to go soon.
That means a lot less time spent on the site and a much more focused focus on improving its user experience, and Hogg’s team is looking forward to seeing how that changes over time.
“With the new site, we’ve got the tools in place now to make this a lot easier, and also really focus on the user experience,” he explains.
“So we’re hoping to be a little less distracted by trying to be the best user experience site that we possibly can be.”
The New Scientist Community Solution will be launched in March, and you can sign up for early access here.