Analysing Volunteer Engagement in Humanitarian Mapping: Building Contributor Communities at Large Scale
Organisers of large-scale crowdsourcing initiatives need to consider how to produce outcomes with their projects, but also how to build volunteer capacity. The initial project experience of contributors plays an important role in this, particularly when the contribution process requires some degree of expertise. We propose three analytical dimensions to assess first-time contributor engagement based on readily available public data: cohort analysis, task analysis, and observation of contributor performance. We apply these to a large-scale study of remote mapping activities coordinated by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, a global volunteer effort with thousands of contributors. Our study shows that different coordination practices can have a marked impact on contributor retention, and that complex task designs can be a deterrent for certain contributor groups. We close by providing recommendations about how to build and sustain volunteer capacity in these and comparable crowdsourcing systems.