What’s the perfect housewarming gift? The beachfront or the mountaintop restaurant? And what meal to have once you’re there? Life is full of little decisions and questions that we like to reinforce with the opinions of others. Blurtopia allows its users, or ‘Blurtopians’ to participate in an online community where they can ask and answer life’s little questions to either the wider community or just their friends.
This is an excellent example of the first core pattern of Web 2.0, being the harnessing of collective intelligence. This pattern refers to users creating content for the application and the architecture of the system which enables both implicit and explicit participation of the users. Blurtopia is a platform which holds entirely user-generated content. From the questions, to the imagery, to the answers and comments, users contribute all content. This is a powerful example of harnessing the collective intelligence of the crowd, as the application is based on the personal knowledge gained from day-to-day life.
Released in October 2012, the relatively new application is reminiscent of Quora; a website with a similar purpose, getting answers from people with first-hand experience. However, Blurtopia incorporates features seen in Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where imagery, hashtags, likes, and the concept of followers are used to enhance the user experience.
Users have the option of ‘Blurting’ one of four alternative types of questions. They can choose from either, a simple ‘thumbs up, thumbs down’ style, a rating from 1-5, a ‘this-or-that’ option where they can insert two pictures to accompany the options, or a fill in the blank, leaving the answers to endless possibilities.
The developers of Blurtopia have already expressed their intentions to expand into the Android operating system, as well as a web-based version of the application, making it more available, to a wider market. I personally cannot wait for the Android release. As for future developments in the app itself, credibility of responses, which, while encouraging, isn’t entirely necessary for a large portion of the apps users, could be attained through creating ‘Blurtopian’ profiles, which could be boosted through credibility ratings when their responses are ‘liked’.
In relation to the 7 ‘best practices’ of Harnessing Collective Intelligence, Blurtopia has arguably covered all of these.
Reward the user first: The developers are quickly moving on expanding the platforms that the application is available on, reducing the barriers which prevent users from participating the ‘Blurtopian’ community. This is complimented by the ease of the sign-up process, which can be completed through Facebook, Twitter or ‘the old-fashioned way’.
Set network effects by default: Users are able to easily share their ‘Blurts’ with their friends, even if they’ve never used or even heard of Blurtopia before. By simply sharing with friends, they can alert their friends by email of their questions, enticing new users with each question posted.
Involve users explicitly and implicitly: As all content is user-generated, the explicit involvement is quite obvious, however, as hashtagging is also utilised, the implicit involvement is also existent, while less obvious and of a lesser impact.
Provide a meaningful context for creation: Everyone has those little burning questions inside them that they are curious to hear the opinions of the crowd upon. Therefore, the context is there; it already existed. Blurtopia merely provided a means for communication.
Trust your users: It is evident that Blurtopia trusts its users, with users being free to post any non-explicit material, and discuss questions posted by users. There are no moderator accounts as such.
Design software so it improves as more people use it: Naturally, with greater participation, the application will provide speedier, more accurate responses with a greater level of discussion and sense of community.
Facilitate emergence: As previously discussed, the app will soon be available on more platforms, expanding into Android and web-based forms, allowing fast expansion of the community.
Have you used Blurtopia? Or do you now plan to?
Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave feedback!
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