Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

People-Powered Products

Expanding on the quick thought I posted this morning, I’m on the hunt for more examples of people-powered products. In order to qualify, a project needs to meet three key criteria:

  1. Include Community Tools
    That means community members can make stuff that’s integral to the product – not just comment on the “official” stuff.
  2. Embrace the Wisdom of Crowds
    That means members can collaborate, not just producing stuff but also editing and judging what’s been produced.
  3. Produce a Physical Object
    That means the end result of the collaboration produces a tangible product. It doesn’t necessarily have to be for sale (but it helps).

For example: In Threadless, members create the designs (#1), collaboratively vote up the best ones (#2), and then can buy the resulting products (#3).

Close but no cigar: In Lulu, members create books (#1) and can buy them (#3), but there’s no collaboration: A member can only publish their own stuff. One could argue that their Top Sellers page is a product of the wisdom of crowds, but that’s only monitoring what’s been published, not what gets published.

Also close but no cigar: In Wikipedia, members can create pages (#1) and edit each other (#2) but the project produces no output besides the website itself.

Get the idea? Can you name any projects that fit all three of the criteria for People-Powered Products?


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Hi, I’m Derek. I make awesome community-centric web stuff. I sometimes post things to Instagram and Twitter. I’m mostly harmless. More.





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