User participation is now an established feature of the economy, spreading from product development and software to a much broader base of activities, such as marketing and manufacturing, and sectors, including social media, automotives and cosmetics, among others. Early analyses of user participation pointed to the importance of building large communities, creating effective incentives for participation and implementing more flexible forms of organization. Looking back a few years later, the good news is that active participation continues to spread. The bad news is that harnessing participation is more difficult than we thought. Stimulating a continuous flow of high-quality contributions should be the focus of companies that want to take advantage of user participation.
Well, actually, if you’ve been hanging around knowledge management and collaboration for a while you wouldn’t expect it to be easy 🙂
I still think Clay Shirky sums this up best – you need:
“a successful fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users”