It Is Not Challenges, It Is Questions, Stupid! (?)

In yesterdays BoST Call we asked about future projects of OSCE association and also how to keep a community engaged: “What would be really valuable for YOU? What would make YOU engaged?

And I continued to think about it after the call and I think I found another break through. Here is my train of thoughs:

#1 How to Open Source Circular Solutions?
What would make me engaged as a circular hardware designer. I would look for a “stage” where I can meet other people doing similar stuff, to engage and collaborate, get inspired and so on.

It is also the question of tools: How to make our Mifactori designs open source and communicate around it. It is the well known lack of tools. There is no GitHub for open source circular solutions.

So this is something OSCEdays could be about: Something like that would keep me engaged, because it would really help me!

#2 It is Questions! Not Challenges!
Next thing I thought is again why the whole challenge area in our forum is not really working. It does not really make sense! Open Source happens in two ways:

###(1) People share their projects on THEIR websites
It is great for a decentralized movement that people share there stuff where they have full control. It is what we want.

###(2) Questions asked and answered in GO TO FORUMS
A lot of open source knowledge ends up in the web, because someone had a practical problem, asked it in a public forum and got an answer. (See random Arduino Example, See random Wordpress Example). Next person with the same problem does an internet search and finds the thread. Great! And for this centralized forums totally make sense!

Our “Challenge” concept is somewhere in the middle – in no mans land. There was always this tension with “Share YOUR challenge in OUR forum.” It just does not make sense!

The whole challenge idea is wrong (communicating it like this)! It should be Questions! It should follow the path number (2). People are working at their local evens. And we ask them to share the questions they try to answer in the forum. Here is a perfect example how this could look like.

In a good tech forum if you ask the community everyone expects that you share all the information necessary to understand the question and to answer this – tada, publish relevant info! Basically the same as a challenge.

We could communicate it to local organizers like this: Please share the questions you will work on also in our forum before the event. And when the event is through, please share the answers too. And maybe, because it is public, also other people will provide answers.

”Please post your questions, provide necessary information to understand it, and if you found a solution please let us know.

That makes so much more sense and is much easier then writing down a “challenge”. Which sounds more like writing work for others.

There are so many reasons coming to my mind why “question” is so much better then “challenge”. (I was not my idea with challenge and I always felt that there is a problem. Just think about how often people asked: “what is a challenge?” and so on.) Here are just some:

  1. We get a lot of “answered questions” afterwards – more inspiring to communicate
  2. Then it finally makes sense why we are using a forum! A forum is made for this. Not as website to present challenges.
  3. Everyone knows how to ask a question – it is quick! But “what is a challenge” and “how to post a challenge” – sounds like a hell lot of work.
  4. The forum has its place and purpose also after the events for the community to go to! A space to ask questions.
  5. The whole mentorship program we talked about yesterday – @JayKay s scientists – they could go through the questions and answer some of them. A good way to engage the community: Ask questions we make sure there are people that might answer them.
  6. Questions are much more interesting for readers (hey, I might know the answer or have the same problem) as challenges (=other peoples individual problems, sounds like work, for other people!)

With this procedure people can share their challenges wherever they want – on their websites – which is exactly the behaviour we want to encourage! But they bring their core question to the forum and share the link to their website.

The it is also ok and not counter when local organizers are not sharing everything!

And I think we’ll meet a real need then, have a real purpose: Or is there a forum out there in the web where people can ask questions about Circular Economy if they get stuck in their projects?

And the OSCE associations purpose could be to solve that questions or assist with solving them.

For me it is so obvious that this will make everything so much better. It would make the whole forum easier to understand. And it is not too much work, I would offer to do it – I estimate 4 maybe if I am slow 6 hours. It will not change to much. It is not really about restructuring. It is just about a small discursive change – a change of wording – that will make a huge difference – I am pretty convinced about it.

So, @BoST & community give me your green light and I’am happy to do it. Changes will not be so major that we can’t change it back quickly. The “Challenge” concept would still be there - no harsh change in communication. But more prominent before “challenge” would be “question.”

I really like the idea. I think it could make it easier to jump into a question than into a challenge.

Got my green light @Lars2i

To give it even more impact, I would suggest that the “Questions” follow the following structure (As in Non Violent Communication), so it is easier for anyone to get directly engaged in the problem and think of solutions:

Observation: What am I seeing that I am looking to solve?

Feelings: Why do you think it’s a problem?

Needs: What do you need the solution to do?

Request: What do you want people to help you with?

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I like the idea too. You are right, questions are easier to communicate and could lead to more engagement on the forum.
I’d say a challenge, even if not communicated as prominently anymore, still has a meaning as the umbrella term which encompasses the Questions of a project.
Let’s try it :slight_smile:

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@Jan_D on facebook:

It sounds like a good shift but in my mind, is a short term and doesn’t tap into the potential for Open Source collaboration on projects yet. Personally, I think we need something like what Timothy and I were going to work on before he left, a kind of mindmap that maps out various projects in a 2D space.

We were going to use Neo4J for this and I am still interested in developing the Neo4J solution for open source collaborations. I am investigating on my own right now as Timothy is busy with other things. This is definitely a longer term project however, but one worth pursuing.

It’s natural to use tools like Google Drive to do all the project work. Many open source projects like Stop Reset Go use Google Drive to keep their project documents on. I’m a member of many other OS project groups and they all use Google Drive to one extent or another. What OSCE Days need is a kind of metamap like Kumu (or Neo4j) to keep track of all these projects on a high level. The project content is kept in other tools like Google Drive but you need a kind of map to the existing projects. If OSCE Days hosts the map, using Kumu or Neo4j, site users can then apply filters to extract things like:

who belongs to a project?
what are the outstanding questions in that project?
what help areas do they need?
what are the resource needs?
what is the expertise within the group?
what can be shared?

OSCE Days is more of a networking hub than a content host. I think we may have been trying to be content host. So simple questions are a good step in a more interactive direction. We don’t have the resources to implement content hosting and frankly, it’s not efficient to do so with all the existing tools out there.



That’s such a good point. Networking hub vs. content hosting, or both?

But even if we go with the first, how to create clear, structured outcomes which then can be used for getting the vision out there/ getting sponsors etc.?
A map is a good idea if we don’t want to emphasize on more standardized documentation.

Hi Julia,

I think it helps to think about it from the user perspective, which is what Lars’s insight is. If WE are a user coming to this site, what is our experience of it? What is our experience of coming to the event?

We are all kind of use to OSCE Days because we have been involved with it a lot, but if we were seeing from a User’s eyes, what would make them excited or not excited by it?

There are three types of people who could potentially come:

Type 1: I have an idea for innovation
Type 2: I don’t have an innovative idea BUT I am looking to collaborate with others who do
Type 3: I have my own idea for innovation but also interested in other innovative ideas I have not developed

Depending on which type of person I am, I would be excited if:

  • I would find OSCE Days worthwhile if I can find others who help me turn the idea into a reality
  • I would find OSCE Days worthwhile if I can find others with great ideas who allow me to contribute

So from this perspective, yes, OSCE Days value is a matchmaking service. Sponsors would see value if:

  1. The ideas are actually relevant, real world problems that they themselves are concerned with.
  2. OSCE Days helps matchmake people and resources and facilitates solving the problem in a circular way

Yes Lars2i I think that s a great idea and the whole thing would me more useful then !! MAKE it questions ))

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Yes. We have been trying to be a content host although noone really liked the idea because it contradicted our mission - But due to a lack of a better idea how to connect a global community this was the way to go. The “challenge” concept somehow stood in our way to see the solution.

Just calling it “questions” from now on changes almost nothing in the structure of everything - the forum will almost be the same. But it changes a lot the way people are invited to look at it and use it. You still can post a long description of a challenge. And each challenge we got also counts as a question :slight_smile:

But it is way more natural now to just ask a question or read yourself through questions. It will be much easier to start using the forum. And then you can find the people who are asking the questions, you can find the people who are answering them, and you find a link to the projects . . . So the matchmaking/connecting/making visible part works way better.

And we encourage the people to host their own websites and structures! But the forum makes still totally sense as an Agora.

So i count this as a yes too @gien.


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Also, if it is in Question format, then it is also easy for anyone with expertise to jump in and answer questions. Could the WP page be designed so that the questions have a check box…like a WP form and mentors can go through questions and click on the ones that interest them or that they feel they can be helpful in addressing?

On another note, does anyone remember the name of that group of scientists who have agreed to mentoring? I will ask CSIR, a South African scientific research institute if they would be willing to do the same as well.

This would be good for local participants who might receive support after the event.


It’s Het Groene Brein


On green!

Thank you Lars and all.

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ok, done. It was actually quicker then expected. Only thing is, i am not happy with the new Icon for “News & Introductions” if someone got a better one or can find a suitable one on

let me know.

Good idea @Lars2i, green for me!

Okay so brief question, as I was posting on the forum today, I had difficulties not writing Challenge/ Challenges all the time.
Because a Challenge also means the activity during the event, which I was referring to.
Did I do it the right way or how could I rephrase it? (Here is my post)
Thank you!

Ah, just continue to use “challenges” as before.