The Code for America brigade effect

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Harnessing citizen participation via social media and open source tools

Have you ever seen results from your community engagement and realized the impact of your efforts? We recently told you about the LocalWiki project and shared some of the results from the Triangle Wiki day event. But then our friends at Code for America took it a step further.

The co-founders of LocalWiki were in the Code for America offices last week to see how they could build on the success of the Code Across America event. They took the data--633 page edits, 100 maps, and 138 new photos--and amplified it.

The enthusiasm from the event is captured in a simple graph that tracks edits since the start of the TriangleWiki project in October 2011. You’ll notice a significant spike on February 25. It graphically shows the impact of  engaging community members with multiple talents—citizens, writers, historians, photographers, and yes, developers. As a result, the impact has been dubbed 'the brigade effect.'

Edits over time

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Kevin Curry contributed to this post.

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications.


I'm glad to see these results quantified, as it's sometimes hard to gauge results of a good group of people coming together to do work, what you're referring to as the brigade effect.

Morale of the story: Spend a good amount of time building your tribe, and you will be handsomely rewarded with great collaboration while possibly having a lot of fun.

Agreed! It's all about community building and allowing people to take their passion and do great things with it. It's our job as civic geeks to help them focus their passion and give them a platform to have a voice.


Great article, awesome way to demonstrate how opening up to the community, showing them they have a voice and can be heard brings that community together.

Thanks David. It's also nice to have results to show them. Being able to visually see the impact they have provide additional inspiration and also helps other to get involved. I think the Triangle Wiki is going to be a game changer for the Research Triangle. Once people see the value, light bulbs go off and wiki pages get created, edited, and improved.


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