Sunday, October 13, 2013

Does Cuusoo Need Target Deadlines?

I am a firm believer that every project should get a shot at getting to 10k but there are now 5000 of them on Cuusoo.  Every quarter, less than 10 projects have reached 10,000, but in the last three months over 750 projects have been published.  It is easy to see that the problems people already have with Cuusoo will only get worse with time if this trend is not addressed.
What follows is my proposal for a method that could be implemented to identify and remove 80% of the low performing projects while still giving every project a chance: Target Deadlines.

Under the paradigm of Target deadlines, any project can be published, but it has to meet target support levels at given intervals or become archived.  This paradigm thus integrates project velocity as a factor in the overall success of the project.

Proposed Model
  • 25 support within 30 days of publication
  • 50 support within 60 days of publication
  • 100 support within 90 days of publication
  • 200 support within 365 days of publication
These might sound startling low goals to some, but it would actually have a very significant impact.  If these deadlines were put into place today, 4170 projects would be retired.

Benefits to Cuusoo

This would have several, potentially beneficial impacts:
  1. It gives a pressing goal to the project creators
    First impressions are critical for project support and many project publishers do not understand this.  If publishers went into Cuusoo knowing they had goals that had to be met, this would hopefully result in more thoughtful implementations.  This idea of a deadline will also encourage project creators (and serious fans) to take a much more active role in promoting their project.
     
  2. People (Supporters) are inspired to action by deadlines
    People are always more willing to vote and spread the word when there are consequences to not voting.  I hope this statement is self evident, but it has proven effective on getting Cuusoo projects to 10k just prior to the review deadlines.  I have found that online sites are more likely to give a shout-out when there are consequences to not doing so.  Additionally Cuusoo could develop a page that emphasizes projects in their last days to help get the word out.
     
  3. Cuusoo would look better.
    If you remove 80% of the poor performing projects on Cuusoo, then what remains, by definition is the 20% that perform well.  So, any random project you encounter on Cuusoo is much more likely to be impressive.  The suggestion and search systems will "work better" because the content they bring back will be from a healthier collection of projects.
     
  4. The Combination of all the above
    With projects getting promoted more by their creators (1), and people coming in to support before the deadline (2), that means more traffic coming in to Cuusoo.  With the suggested projects looking better (3), there is likely to be more draft Support for projects from new visitors and more chains of support occurring.
     
  5. Broken Window theory
    If you are not familiar with this, well, that is why the link is there.  But basically, if people see "junk" they make more "junk."  So, if Cuusoo is cleared out of much of its "junk" people will be less likely to introduce more.  I don't expect this to work miracles, but it very well could change people's opinions on what you need to have a successful project.
     
  6. Automatically Cleans up Abandoned and Timely Projects
    It is evident that many of the older projects on Cuusoo are neither being supported by fans or even tended by their creators.  In more extreme cases these projects are based on events, like the 2012 Olympics, where the timeliness of the project is a critical aspect.  Putting these deadlines on all projects will give Cuusoo a method to clear out these abandoned ideas and make room for the new and impressive ones to shine.
But what about the archived projects?

If the project creator so chooses, they can be reposted.  There is no reason to burden the Cuusoo staff with trying to decide if a project is "new" enough to get posted.  All they need to do is evaluate a re-submitted project on the current merits for publication and put it up if it meets them.

People who are serious about their ideas will lick their wounds, assess what went wrong, and try again.  The really good ideas that have gotten lost in the shuffle the first time around will even have a better shot at finding its audience in this slimmed down Cuusoo.

Regardless, I think many projects suffer from jumping the gun on publication.  They publish a weak presentation while they have the "new project audience" and then develop a strong presentation when nobody is looking.  Starting over is the best thing for many projects.
There is one caveat I would put on this however (I realize this is a digression).  I would allow anyone to put anything up on Cuusoo (that meets the standards), but I would limit how many low performing projects they can put on Cuusoo.  I would bar people from posting a new project on Cuusoo until their least supported project reaches a threshold of support, perhaps 25 or even 50.

With the new limitation project creators would either have to wait for their weakest project to get up to 25, actively promote their project until it is 25 support, or delete their weakest project to launch a new one.

Many of you might question the need for such a rule, but those who turn a more critical eye on Cuusoo will see that many poorly supported projects are from chronic project creators.  I myself am guilty of this...I have several projects that I "plan to upgrade later" but while that is true, these relatively poor projects are taking up space on Cuusoo and I should probably delete them now and repost them if I do make improvements later.  There is no incentive for me (or anyone else) to actually do this though and this would be a very compelling one that still gives the Cuusoo publisher control of their projects.

Are the cutoffs set for best effect?

That is a great question.  The model I am proposing is based on my personal review of Cuusoo projects.  I imagine if Cuusoo instituted such a model, that it would need to get re-evaluated from time to time.   If streamlining helps the projects that have a real chance at production get more support, then the bars could get moved around quite a bit.

Wouldn't this system favor IP based projects?

I will start off by saying, personally, I don't have a problem with the fact that IP projects are more prevalent on Cuusoo.  I might feel different about this if there was evidence that non-IP projects would get more support if there were less IP themed projects but I have seen that the really good non-IP projects can easily reach 100+ support.

That being said, the initial thresholds are not difficult to meet for a quality project of any variety.  That can be difficult to see by just going to Cuusoo so I have provided this view of Cuusoo.  This shows all projects from the last thirty days sorted by their support level.  Of course this is a moving target, but at the time of publication, 15 No IP projects have reached 25 support in the last 30 days, 5 of these have even reached 50 support in 30 days, and 1 has reached 100 in 30 days.

So...what would this look like?

Well, you can see for yourself.  I have created two new sort order views for Cuusoo projects.  Here is a page displaying all Cuusoo projects sorted by their "lifetime" support rate and here is the same sort but with projects that have not met the proposed deadlines removed.  Additionally, as it is important to many FOLs, I have added a rate view that is exclusive to non-IP projects which can be found here.

This method of sorting does have an interesting quality in that new projects show up high in the sort (5 per day for ONE day is pretty easy) but the low supported new projects do tend to drop off quickly as their support level tops off but the number of days continues to increase, quickly bringing down their average.

So, what do you think...
Should Cuusoo implement Project Support Deadlines:

What can you do?
Well, obviously most of the people reading this article are not Lego employees and have nothing to do with Cuusoo.  But you can make a difference by telling Cuusoo what your opinion is.  The easiest thing you can do of course is respond to the survey above.  If you feel stronger about this subject, for or against, you can do so by emailing Cuusoo at: LEGOsupport@CUUSOO.com or you can use the "Contact Support" link on Cuusoo's Knowledge Base.