Consulting

Basics

I do consulting from time to time, mainly for entrepreneurs, but sometimes for non-profits as well.  Here is some basic information if you are interested in hiring me as a consultant.

My specialization, and so the reason you might want to hire me, is in the basic (especially policy) design of online collaborative communities.  I am not a computer programmer and am not the best person to ask about what the latest and greatest wiki to use is.  I am also not a businessman or economist, and I am not especially hip to everything that is going on in Silicon Valley (I moved away from there to Ohio, if that gives you any idea).  What I am is a Ph.D. philosopher with years of experience designing a variety of Internet projects, some successful and some not, and so my forte is helping you think through the fundamentals of your Internet business plans.  I combine experience and extremely careful critical thinking with an endless fount of ideas.  What I do, and it is something I like to do quite a bit, is try to understand what you want to do--and then analyze whether you're doing it the best possible way.  I will dash cold water on your plans if I think they are half-baked.  I will get excited if I think you're onto something new, interesting, and exciting.

How do we proceed?

  1. Before we start, I'd prefer it if you tell me (sanger@citizendium.org) why you are interested in involving me in your project, and how you want to do so.
  2. We will sign a simple agreement.
  3. If you pay me in advance, (a) that will get my attention (which can be difficult!), (b) I will do the work sooner rather than later, and (c) I will not cash the check until I am done with the work.
  4. I don't like to travel more than once a month, and I'm booked months in advance, so we if we can do this without me travelling, all the better.  Of course, all my travel expenses would have to be paid, and my travel time and trouble would have to be part of the fee as well.
  5. I am willing to do telephone consultations, but as I charge a substantial fee for this, your money might be better spent if I answer questions or give you my ideas in writing.
  6. I generally write and think quickly, and I prefer to write, because I can be clearer in writing than in conversation.  I can generate reports of 1-10 pages that are packed full of ideas and useful criticism.

More details

Some free advice.  Maybe you don't need me to tell you this, but most people, even very experienced and competent people, don't think their ideas through enough or do enough research.  Your venture will probably fail, because most ventures fail.  Sorry if that sounds a little too honest, but that's how I am.  In my opinion, the best way you can help ensure that your venture doesn't fail is to think it through.  Also, if you want to start an Internet community, you have to realize that it is not a matter of "if you build it, they will come."  They probably won't come unless you give them a good reason to.  The top problem for any Internet community project to solve is: how do we get people to participate?  That's what you have to understand before you put a huge amount of time and money into your project.  Here are two papers that you might find useful:

Do I partner with people?  This is difficult. I am not interested in "partnering" with a start-up if you have little money or experience with this sort of community.  Also, I am somewhat philosophically opposed to the many for-profit projects that milk "the crowd" for content and then sell advertising (such as YouTube, Digg, Mahalo, and Wikia).  Moreover, since I am extremely busy with my own projects, I simply don't have time to lead any new projects.  The very best I could do is advise and put my name behind a project the fundamentals of which are already very sound.  But I will put my name behind a project only if I really believe in it.  You may not without my permission report, for PR purposes, that I consulted on your project.  I will not announce this fact, either.

How does the Citizendium enter in?  I am working full time as Editor-in-Chief of the Citizendium, which (at present) I'm not paid for at all!  I am fortunate to be able to earn a living from part-time writing, speaking, and consulting.  Still, a donation to the non-profit Citizendium would be greatly appreciated.  But please do not think that you must partner with the Citizendium in order to get my help.  Partnering with the Citizendium is appropriate only in certain cases; you have to understand that the project is much bigger than me, and the community may (and sometimes does) overrule suggestions I make.

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