Give us the Easy Ask!

Today I want to focus on the easy ask. What can you ask your users to contribute that is easy? It seems obvious, doesn’t it? It seems obvious to me, but I find myself searching for the easy ask a lot of times, so I thought I would write a short post reminding everyone to put some easy asks on their contribution pages.

The easy ask should be a five to ten minute task that helps your project and gives your contributors a sense of accomplishment. I talked about gamification in my last post, and that’s one of the ways your users can gain that sense of accomplishment. You might also just accredit them with the task – an easy and appropriate way to give contributors the recognition they deserve. For projects with a budget, small prizes or swag are pretty nice (combined with the idea of “leveling up” you can stretch your swag budget pretty far and get lots more contributions).

So what exactly is an easy ask? Asking your user to give feedback on something or to edit text springs to mind right away. Other easy asks are small bugs (for developers), image editing (for designers) or simply spreading the word. Your users would serve nicely as marketers. If you have big tasks, break them up! The more you can break up big tasks into smaller bits, the easier it will be for people to make contributions.

It’s a little bit of work, but the personalized easy ask is the best way to get a task done. Take note of the contributors who have helped you out in the past, and send them a personal note asking them to do something. Saying “Hey everyone we need feedback” is all well and good, and some engaged users might give you feedback, but more than likely, your contributors are a little gun shy about being the first on a list to vocalize their opinion. People are self conscious. They will be less so if you say something along the lines of

“Hey So-and-So, a few months ago you gave us some great feedback on “X” – we’d really like to know your opinion on “Y”, could you please send us an email about that?”

You’re asking people to volunteer their time and skills for free. Give them a variety of easy asks, and chances are more people will be apt to completing at least one of them. If a user feels valued through personal connection, they’re more likely to give their opinion.

Enhanced by Zemanta

  1 comment for “Give us the Easy Ask!

  1. September 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Today I want to focus on the easy ask. What can you ask your users to contribute that is easy? It seems obvious, doesn’t it? It seems obvious to me, but I find myself searching for the easy ask a lot of times

    Project managers are torn between several constraints. One is moving the project forward in the sense of building their product. Another is increasing participation. They would like to do both.
    When coming to a small task, the question can arise: “should i do it myself or ask someone else to do it?”.
    Most of the time, you know how to do it yourself so it would take very few time and you would have the guarantee that it’s done properly soon. It’s the good short term decision.
    If you “wait” for a contributor to do it, you have no visibility over whether it’s going to be done soon (or in time if there is a deadline) nor well when it’s “done”. However, when it’s done, the contributor can be rewarded, will have learned something and will be more likely to work on other tasks, until being autonomous. It’s the good long term decision with lower guarantee of short term outcome.

    Also, breaking up big tasks into smaller tasks takes time too and comes the same question of whether you should invest this time with no guarantee of outcome or not.

    Overall, i fully agree with you as i have myself thought the exact same thing so many times. But this short-term/long-term, guarantee/no-guarantee trade-off gets in the way most of the time and short-term is very often chosen unfortunately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.