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Best Buy Dabbles in Online Crowdsourcing

Best Buy’s a big name and, you know, it’s pretty successful. But that doesn’t mean it’s closed-minded, and won’t listen to good ideas from the public. To that end, it’s just launched an online Suggestions Box. It’s called the Best Buy Idea Exchange, or IdeaX, and you can think of it as a digital version of those old-fashioned little suggestions boxes with pre-printed cards that sit on many customer services desks in stores. Of course it’s the 21st Century now, so some kind of centralized, digitized update to this system would definitely seem to be in order.

Best Buy’s a big name and, you know, it’s pretty successful. But that doesn’t mean it’s closed-minded, and won’t listen to good ideas from the public. To that end, it’s just launched an online Suggestions Box.

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Best Buy Idea Exchange

It’s called the Best Buy Idea Exchange, or IdeaX, and you can think of it as a digital version of those old-fashioned little suggestions boxes with pre-printed cards that sit on many customer services desks in stores. Of course it’s the 21st Century now, so some kind of centralized, digitized update to this system would definitely seem to be in order.

But that’s where IdeaX gets more interesting. Instead of the digital notes disappearing into a virtual online posting box, like the in-store ones, Best Buy is choosing to post them in a dedicated blog/live stream/social network/forum hybrid system, completely on public display. You simply fill in the “my idea is…” and “It’d be great if…” boxes, add on tags, and click the “share” button. You can then comment on it, other users can comment on it, you can vote to promote what you think is a good idea. Posts get shown on a “Popular Ideas” and “Recent Ideas” board on IdeaX’s landing page, and there’s even a “Nearby Ideas” feed.

Best Buy Idea Exchange

It all sounds very positive–a huge commercial entity is so interested in public suggestions that it has built a complex system to manage them, and it’s all publicly viewable. But there’s a catch, and it’s a subtle one. In the site’s Term’s and Conditions is the phrase “By using IdeaX, you agree that any information you send to Best Buy via IdeaX … is non-confidential. Furthermore, by submitting the Materials using IdeaX, you grant Best Buy and its designees an irrevocable … license to make, use, sell, import, modify, reproduce, transmit, display, perform, create derivative works, combine with other works, and distribute such Materials for any purpose whatsoever to the extent permitted by law.” It’s inevitable. And it means if you suggest something absolutely brilliant that ends up saving the company a couple of million dollars, it’s their intellectual property, not yours–you’re probably not going to earn a dime from it.

And of course there’s the other catchall legal phrase: “Best Buy may, at its sole discretion, reject any idea submission and prevent it from being posted on IdeaX.” This may be a public forum, but if you use it to point out a glaring or embarrassing failure in something Best Buy does, it can merely choose to keep your post from going live.

That’ll be the measure of how good IdeaX turns out: How much dirty laundry Best Buys airs in public on the site.

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