OK so let’s talk about project collaboration.
What Is Project Collaboration
In its most simple form a project collaboration is where two or more people work together on a project to meet one common goal. A collaboration can find no bounds and can sometimes include thousands if not millions of people contributing to the cause of the project. Some of those collaborators may only contribute one thing, and some may contribute large percentages of the project. Collaborations don’t always have to have strict rules or a single leader, but guidelines are usually established to ensure the goal is met and kept on topic.
A project collaboration (to me) is effectively the same as a community project.
Examples of Project Collaboration
The internet is built on the idea that we can all share our knowledge (be that through study, research or experience) with each other freely, easily and with greater accessibility than writing a book, creating a film or taking part in a seminar. Now of course I’m not stuck in 1998, although I wouldn’t blame anyone if they thought I was, and I understand that with the introduction of social media platforms and multimedia streaming services that the purpose of the internet has been somewhat lost but there are still a lot of people out there who are still trying to keep that ethos alive. Sure there are parts of the internet that are akin to a busy bar with a lot of people talking about inconsequential stuff or about information that only applies to their immediate world (such as what kind of eggs that had for breakfast that morning) but there are still a lot of individuals and organisations out there trying to spread information (be it correct or not) using the medium that is the internet. That is why I made this website, because I like doing research on things that interest me and I like to share those results with the world.
A big part of this knowledge sharing comes in the form of collaborations. One of the worlds most popular websites, Wikipedia, is pretty much a giant project collaboration. All of the content you see on Wikipedia is generated, edited and curated by humans who have a passion in sharing information with other humans for the purpose of education. Discogs is also another example of a very big collaboration project where all the information about physical music media (and later covering digital releases) is being submitted, edited and curated by humans (like me!).
I think that out of everything that the internet has brought us, these massive projects are one of the most impressive. Anyone can join in and start helping out in some way or form – from adding new information, updating out of date information or simply creating new links or relationships between existing information.
Reasons for Project Collaboration
(In the scope of dans-things.com)
I run this website off my own back 100%. OK the web hosting is dutifully taken care of by Krystal, but the management of the CMS, the creation of the web pages and blog posts, designing and creating images – is all done by one man, me. Also at the moment this website brings in zero revenue, hopefully that will one day change but at the moment I am honestly running this website at a loss. Don’t take that the wrong way, I love this website as it is a portal for me to dump all my crazy thoughts and interests in the hopes that some of that information may one day help someone else.
That last part has been core to all of the projects that have preceded dans-things.com. Computer Legacy, Advertopia, IsItStillOnline, Cars on UK TV – these projects were all started with the intention to share sourced, researched information online for free so that it could benefit someone else who might be doing some research for their own project or maybe some general curiosity browsing. The problem is I always dream of the final result – I look at sites like Wikipedia and Discogs and think I want to be like that. Forgetting that those two websites have had millions of contributors over the years, I stress myself out trying to reach their lofty heights and usually run out of steam.
A solution to that issue would be opening up many of my projects to become collaborations. I get to meet like-minded people who may or may not be a little nutty about things that other people may not care for, they get to help me reach my dreams and we come together make a beautiful repository of information on a particular topic. Perfect right? Hmm not so…
Reasons for Not Collaborating
I guess you could say I am a bit of a control freak. Even when I started those other projects I tried to make sure they were not overly personal, whereas dans-things.com is inherently personal to me. However I could never really get comfortable with letting other people in. See when I come into any new collaborative project such as helping out on a wiki or assisting with a new database of things (like Filmogs) I always do my upmost to make sure the data I am adding is correct and fits the format that the project has already adopted. Now I know from spending any amount of time on such projects not everyone always approaches things this way. You get two kinds of people who fit into this category. The first group are stubborn and think that their way is the best way and any other way (even if it has already been widely adopted by the community) is not correct and will proceed to input their data how they see is correct and will throw a digital tantrum when they are told off for doing so. The second group simply don’t care, they either want to help and don’t know how to, or have other intentions that do not align with the projects final goal – these individuals will often never respond in any way to being criticised or advised but instead will blindly go forth and continue on their journey until they have reached whatever personal goal they have and then will often leave the project leaving existing collaborators to clean up.
For me those parties drive me potty. But I understand that whenever you have any kind of public project you’re going to face these issues – hopefully there are enough collaborators on the project to outweigh those who are effectively ruining it. Another third group of “people” (of which I use quotation marks as these individuals are more often than not bots these days) are vandals – their intention is to sabotage the project anyway they can.
There are 100% ways to deal with all three sets of these people, and plenty of current collaborative projects have the means to do so – but when it comes to starting a project on your own, building it from scratch it is hard to think and design these fail-safes when all you (as in me) want to do is start collaborating. Now that mostly all of those old projects have been retired and merged into dans-things, I am slightly more reluctant to open them up to public collaboration because this website project itself means a lot to me personally and I’m not so sure how I’d feel having effectively strangers wondering about the walls of my digital house.
If you are interested in helping me with any part of my projects please use the contact form and let me know your thoughts, ideas or feedback. I’m a rather chatty person so I’ll probably respond to you and begin a dialogue – no promises on anything though, and it would really depend on the project and how you wish to assist before I would begin to open it up.
I will also keep an eye out on how certain projects are doing for gaining attention – if I find that some projects are more interesting than others then I may once again entertain the idea of splitting them out.
In the meantime, if you are itching to create a project then I honestly recommend starting one yourself – what is there really to lose? Creating and running your own website is great fun because it truly is your own sandbox to do what you please with it.