I have read the sitepoint article by Matthew Magain”Design contest made me a better designer” and the response of Anthony Zinni in “99design stoops to new low attempts propaganda” via Design Intellection’s 99designs and the Harmful Effects Thereof article.
I wrote a quick response on Anthony’s article, but I decided to do a proper follow up In this article.
I think Crowdsourcing is good idea for participants. I will make this case by using a simple scenario.
I have just finished (assumption just for this case only) my studies, and I am looking for a job, I want to make a career in designing(again for this case only) I know I am good (but how to prove it?), my grades are not good, I don’t have contacts to get me started.
What are my options?(I would love to here your view for this question)
Well, I will try find a contest in which nobody is interested in my experience and/or grads. I will participate and try to win it. Or, I will start posting my designs on sites like devianART. If I would have been a programmer(for this situation) I would build free plugins to popular softwares like firefox, wordpress(i have done this) and/or try to use this as leverage to show my work to client instead of my experience. I will do whatever it takes to showcase my design/programming skills.
How long I will do this?
I will continue to participate in contest for as long as it takes me to get my first Big break, which will make me a PRO like every other established person. Then I might stop participating.
Why would I take this option?
Simple, when I am a fresher with no proven background, No one will give me fair price anyway’s .Will you? If I ask for a job they will ask my experience and will try to evaluate me based on my experience which is zero(or stupid interview questions designed to test my memory), So If I get a job, I will be given stupid things to do till, things that employer doesn’t want to do himself( I am hoping I might get hired by big shot designers, as they have better chance of understanding the difference between experience and skill). Do I want this for myself? No. I want to work on real things. So when I will participate in the contest, It will be level playing field, every one will be judged on the basis of the submission and not their history.
Sure I will get paid less (anyway no one will pay me, equivalent to an established player) but I will get a chance to interact with client right from the beginning. I will see the quality of competition, I will try to improve if my last submission is not good compared to what others have submitted. I will learn, I will improve on my own terms.
If I am any good I will get my edge, and from here I can start to rise, and may be soon join the league of professionals.
That is why sites like 99designs.com are useful for me. Open Source projects are important to me. Softwares with options for creating plugins, help me. They all give me a chance to showcase my skills and not my experience(in years), hence increase my value(read price) in short duration.
What will happen if competition increases?
Quality will improve, and if I am good I will win, who cares about competitors. Anyway’s, Is their no competition in normal situations?
Actually, even established players can try and use these websites to test their wild ideas that might not be acceptable by their usual clients.
This fight against Crowdsourcing reminds me of “Microsoft vs Linux” game.
Check this slightly unrelated video “More” directed by Mark Osborne, and take some time to think.
In the end choice is yours. So what is your choice?