Join The Community By Working For Free!

Are you a creative professional who likes to give your ideas away for free? Would you like to do so for an organization with a $60 billion a year budget? Then I’ve got an opportunity for you.

Join other hardworking designers, information architects, UXers, and developers for the opportunity to help redesign one of the biggest websites in the country. Yes, that’s right! They’re letting you help for free. Isn’t that nice of them?

An unprecedented community event at General Assembly to kick off the reinvention of New York City’s primary web presence. Civic participation meets the digital age.

On July 30-31, teams of designers, engineers, copywriters, photographers and product managers will come together at General Assembly in New York City to spend a full weekend designing, developing, and launching their visions for a re-imagined

I caught a lot of flak on Twitter for this, but I stand by my statement – this is robbery disguised as community engagement. All too often, creative professionals – an actual community – get taken advantage of in this way.

“Well, come share some ideas with us and maybe we’ll contract with you.”

“A portfolio isn’t enough, we need to see concepts in advance.”

“Where do you think our strategy should be headed?”

The list could go on and on and on – every single one of us has been burned by it.

Design, product management, engineering, copywriting, and professional photography aren’t hobbies for the people who will show up at this event – they’re careers.

Creative professionals devote their working lives to bringing ideas to fruition, and asking them to work for free by providing a $60 billion corporation with concepts is absolutely insulting. So for NYC to ask them to show up for free and provide concepts that are a reflection of all of their education and prior work is worse than insulting – it’s stealing.

So sure, help reinvent – I bet they’ll even throw in free pizza. But remember that at some point they’ll hire an agency that takes your ideas and brings them to life – and for well into the 6 figure range, at least. And you won’t be any better off for it. Welcome to the community.

One thought on “Join The Community By Working For Free!

  1. Hi, Greg

    I teach design, and I survived in a small design business for many years, so I have no trouble understanding your argument. A better way to enable civic engagement would be to ensure people had real jobs. We recently had a devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand (5 hr drive North from where I live). Everyone was invited to send in idead for the rebuild of the city centre, but I don’t think they are expecting the community to pick up tools and do the actual construction – which seems to be what you are describing here. I’ll visit Keystone Politics.


    Twitter: mark_mcguire


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