A quick look at devpost projects will show you how a huge majority of projects are way too similar & try to solve a set of standard problems in not very significantly different ways. As students of developed nations, we are equipped with the technical know-how and eagerness to create impactful solutions but, at the same time, it is very difficult (and hardly likely) that we would have experienced the most pressing problems of the world first-hand & know what exactly are the intricacies to these real-world problems. This hampers the development of a solution that actually makes a difference.
A short survey at this hackathon itself proves our point. Although ~64% hackers want to make projects that have a good social impact, ~69% has not experienced the problems they are trying to solve first-hand and ~19% could not come up with ideas to implement within 24 hrs. This depicts a standard demand-supply problem and we decided to connect and supply technologists(academicians, hackers, non-profits) with each other and pressing problems around the world.
What it does
PROBLEM OVERFlow is a community-driven social-network that gathers experiences of problems faced by people from around the world and tags them for experts. Experts in different domains then formulate a clear and concise problem statement that will be presented backed by real-life examples and data. They can also update the level to which the solution has been solved and point out deliverables. The curated problem statement list is then released to the relevant audience(eager and talented hackers & non-profits) who are looking to solve real-world problems and make an impactful project.
It connects hackers, non-profit organizations, and academia to real-life people struggling with problems that need attention. We want to break the cycle of re-inventing the wheel(replication), the waste of hours and hours(~1111 years) of technological talent and work put in by hackers worldwide & direct their efforts in solving well-defined problems that will help them make a difference by contributing to solving problems worldwide. When a hacker solves or contributes significantly to a problem statement, he can submit his updates as solutions on the site and the progress bar for the particular problem statement can then be updated on the platform.
Challenges We ran into
Coming up with the problem statement PROBLEM OVERFlow is the paragon for “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” We took our biggest challenge and turned it into a product by carefully understanding why we were facing the challenge in the first place.
One of the biggest challenges was understanding the ideation process of hackers. When we were brainstorming our own ideas, we had a certain procedure that essentially led us to believe that coming up with a good problem statement is a bigger and legit problem. But in order to solidify that opinion, we needed to hear from others. Hence, we surveyed.
To define how PROBLEM OVERFlow is different from other knowledge sharing platforms. There are various knowledge sharing platforms like Stack Exchange and Quora that connect questions with answers. These forums are existing from quite some time and have made a huge dent in the knowledge sharing space. It took quite some time to convince ourselves to create a new platform. One reason was that these platforms are quite generalized with respect to topics and things like these get lost because of the other more interesting things to follow. Hence a dedicated platform with an elite force of subject matter experts is required.
Content Moderation One of the biggest problems with collaborative platforms is to maintain content quality. While the decentralized system can theoretically maintain it, we needed some filtering mechanism until the community is big. Hence, as a starting step, we decided to allow only academicians (users with .edu email) to create and edit the problem statements. While the read-only view of the problem statement (along with its lifecycle) is available to the entire world, the curation is only allowed by academia.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Presenting a working solution.
Solving a major problem for our hacker community by providing a reliable problem repository.
What we learned
Learned how to implement and deploy a new tech-stack. A couple of us also learned how to wireframe using JustInMind and use the tool PowToons.
What's next for PROBLEM OVERFlow
Including contributors outside academia We understand that knowledge does not have to always come from academia. There are independent researchers out there who care about the world and would want to contribute. Hence, we plan to have a nomination system where the current top contributors are allowed to nominate non-academic candidates.
Solution repository As the world gets access to these problems, major league hackathons, non-profits, and other researchers will be allowed to submit potential solutions which will also be vetted by the experts and included in the repository. This prevents re-invention of the wheel and allows new researchers and hackers to learn from others experiences.