How the Qela app captivates supporters
Trust. Everything revolves around it. Qela was born in a country where trust in civil and government institutions had been at a very low level for decades. Mistrust and unjustified expectations in their extreme manifestation provoked conflicts, and the country regularly experienced so-called Maidans. On them, people united in attempts to form a civil society. Allegedly, new political forces appeared. But they continued to interact with their supporters in the old way.
Each time they made, in particular, the same mistake: they maintained the distance between leaders and supporters, volunteers, turning it into an abyss of misunderstanding and lack of feedback. Social media solved the problem of communication only partially due to the dominance of bots, fake news, and commercial algorithms. On paper people were asked for their opinion, they supposedly expressed it, but all this was drowned in information noise, manipulations, and unobvious results.
Therefore, when one of the young Ukrainian socio-political movements began to use the new rules of the game and a technological solution for them, this did not go unnoticed and led to the constant growth of this movement.
What is the key feature of these rules? Each supporter of the movement was recognized as important, one on which the life of the organization and the achievement of its common goals depend. The organization belongs to them. And these were not just words, but concrete actions.
How did Qela contribute to this? What technological components helped to create a sense of unity, awareness, the value of each individual for the organization, real involvement in positive change?
The first and foremost is, of course, the voting functionality taking into account the participant's contribution to the organization – an unusually motivating thing. It gives rise to a new quality of work of a public organization, increases the motivation of its participants, loyalty, and life span in the organization. Moreover, it allows you to come out of internal conflicts with honor and improve the quality of decisions.
There are also many little things and components that are equally important to the overall performance of the application. All of them are dictated by 2 years of experience working with thousands of donors and community activists who have used the Qela app and created at their request.
Guaranteed transparency and reliability of voting.
At the start of the application, we used blockchain technology. Most users like the very idea of blockchain, it increases their confidence in the voting results. But practice shows that blockchain is not enough. Of course, blockchain technology itself is a strong argument for competent community members. But in any community, there will always be people who will not trust the blockchain, because for them it is a magic box that they cannot figure out on their own. Is there a way out?
The case was helped by the development of a separate service: an anonymized voting log, which shows each decision without indicating personal data (https://app.sokyra.party/voting_log/). This log contains only the address of the wallet with tokens and the transaction ID. This allows the audit committee to check the coincidence of the internal application log (it is stored for several years) with the one that is published on the website and can be downloaded by any user.
Thus, the trust in blockchain technology is complemented by the trust in the board, which can include people who are not IT-savvy. The introduction of an open voting log removed almost all the community's doubts about the reliability of voting.
Now Qela is betting on a universal solution with a vote log, and a blockchain solution is an option for those who appreciate this technology.
People, not just votes.
It is interesting for users to see not only what percentage of the vote's weight was given for a particular decision. They want to know how many people of what status voted for it. The legitimacy of the vote (and hence the satisfaction of users) directly depends on the fact that the percentage of votes is not in strong contradiction with the distribution by people.
Practice shows that this always happens. In an ideological organization united by common values, there are no strong contradictions between the "top" and participants with an insignificant weight of vote. This is a lesson to be learned from dozens of controversial votes.
It is important to have access to the news of your organization. Social media and the website are user-friendly but very inconvenient to organize. You cannot count on Facebook to deliver high-quality news and announcements (including fundraising ones) to the user. The same goes for other social networks. The application is an integrator of user activities, their profile in the organization, FAQ information (internal Wiki), and a news feed with engaging news.
Accountability and competition.
In a large organization, there are many structural divisions - regional organizations, clubs, communities. How to asses their effectiveness? The accrual of tokens for completing tasks and donations is the best summary indicator of the quality of work. It allows you to set flexible motivation for the heads of structural divisions, bring together leaderboards, and report to the community.
This, in turn, motivates regional organizations to urge activists to install an application, complete assignments, and donate funds. And users love it because it allows them to see their involvement in a large national or even international initiative.
The app must have a push notification that reminds users of important polls or events. You should not overuse it, but you cannot exclude it either. There are many cases when people who did not receive a push notification on an important vote for them were outraged and began to suspect the organization's management of manipulation. This means that participation and engagement are important to users.
It also means that communication via push notification in especially important cases (elections; resolving controversial issues; changing the rules of the application, and so on) must be duplicated. Unfortunately, you can't count on 100% push contact. At the same time, every dissatisfied user becomes a problem and can ignite a scandal.
Duplication tools can be SMS messages to a smartphone or email distribution. On the one hand, the newsletter is not free. On the other hand, for the fundraising department, such mailing can be an important opportunity to remind about interesting initiatives of the organization and ask donors for support.
Ability to withdraw a vote.
No matter how the vote is phrased, there is always a risk that it will be misunderstood by users or considered manipulative. At the same time, it is impossible to edit the text of the vote, if it has already begun, for obvious reasons. A way out?
Users suggested a solution: it is imperative to publish an option "I do not like this vote." If this option gets more votes than a certain percentage (this percentage is set by a separate general vote), then it goes to reformulation in the governing body of the organization. This option has been addressed several times in our practice, and each time it allowed the governing body to maintain the trust of the community.
Ability to complain.
Practice shows that it is not enough to indicate e-mail in the attachment. The Submit Complaint button should work easily. Otherwise, the frustration of the user, not finding an easy way out, will turn into their dissatisfaction with the organization as a whole. Of course, then you need to work with these complaints and fulfill the request of the activists. But this is a completely separate topic.
In the updated Qela, we are strengthening trust and engagement with game quest mechanics (hyperlink to another article). The activity and effectiveness of the supporter become even more evident both for traffic managers and for themselves. The dynamics of this activity can signal in time about the “wrong turn” or confirm the correctness of the chosen solutions.
Flexibility, sensitivity to feedback, clear communication about results, an educational component, relevant and feasible tasks for each supporter, as well as a clear ideological vector are the components of the success of a modern social movement and its effective campaigns. And only technology allows these components to work together.