Huuhkaja had a moment of terror on 25th of May. We were out with topics for two pilot stories. Would people come and participate? Would anybody share opinions, knowledge and insights with us? What if no one did!
Huuhkaja’s plan is to search ways of using crowdsourcing as a tool for journalism and share the results with Finnish media and audience. In these pilot projects, we asked people to report rotten chapters in school books and tell their experience of quality of Finnish products and service – especially good experience.
The moment of terror passed. Both stories are now written and waiting to be published, quality workers in Kotiliesi on 26th of July, school books in Tiede on 9th of August. In less than a month we received 130 comments on Huuhkaja.fi and Tiede.fi where the school book story was also promoted. We were able to pick to our story an electrician and a public health service nurse, both praised by their customers in Huuhkaja.fi, and a sewer of Nanso clothes which, according to Huuhkaja users, have maintained what once was called Finnish quality.
For the school books story we did not get what we first ordered. No cases of clear errors or outdated facts were reported. However, a slightly provocative post initiated a lively discussion about the tradition of teaching physics. We learned a lot about thinking behind that tradition. This helped us to ask relevant questions in interviews with professors who evaluated books for the story.
Half of the comments came to Tiede.fi blog where the topic was also promoted. These participants were not eager to move to Huuhkaja.fi though they were invited to. They prefered to discuss their ideas where they felt at home.
We must anticipate this in our future projects, too. We will try and learn what kind of questions are answered and which are not. And in case we manage to encourage discussion, it probably will disperse. We have to live with it. And we can.