How to: Expert talent for 25 cents an hour

More and more firms have cottoned onto a way to get expert talent almost for free.  How?  Running a contest and talk about community.  If you draw in the right talent you can also pump up brand awareness.

Here is a nice straight forward  critique, Moleskin running a contest to get a new logo,  of one attempt of this kind.  The author estimates that the firm will payout $7,000 dollars for 28,000 hours of designer-labor or 25 cents and hour.

The context matters.  Here is discussion of an almost identical contest, the Obama campaign’s contest for a new logo.    But in this case I agree with the author; the is contest is entirely appropriate.  And, the extremely small prize is symptomatic of that.

Here’s a third example contest, a trading firm looking for some C code.  This one is finished.  What stood out to me when I first saw this one was the care they had taken to assure they captured the IP rights and the limitation to students, so as to avoid the risk of conflicts arising from the contestant’s employment agreement:  “11. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: As between … and the Participant, the Participant transfers ownership of all intellectual and industrial property rights in and to the Entry that Participant had before submission, ….”

Actually there are entire firms who’s business model is running contests like these for their clients.

I wish we, expert talent that is, had a larger pool to techniques, regulation, and institutions it can use to undermine this pernicious activity.  For example in  the open source community licenses and project governance work together to temper the problem.  In standards bodies the patent pools and poison pills help a little.  Raising awareness helps.

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