The designed methodology was developed into an application prototype that returns crowdfunding projects run by BTR organisations from Crowdfunder and Spacehive. The basic output is a list of projects. Moreover, the app provides the option to create and export the data files needed to build a network visualisation of Crowdfunder projects with Gephi and a histogram for each of the project returned from both platforms with Google Charts.
The app can be downloaded from its repository on GitHub, accessible through the ‘star’ button on the right-hand side panel.
Information on how to install the app is provided on the README.md file in the GitHub repository.
It should be noted that the app does not used platform APIs to collect the data. As a result, future changes on the data structure of the platform graphical user interface will result in the app returning an error. In such an event, the application source code should be modified to account for those changes.
The fact that we were allowed to perform data collection on these platforms does not imply that permission is granted to other people too. Therefore, if someone else went to use the application, it would be advisable for them to ask for consent to the platforms teams again.
The section under the title ‘Crowdfunder crawler’ presents firstly an input box for the user to enter the whole URL of a project on the platform. This project will be used by the app as the seed to deploy co-link analysis.
The second feature on the Crowdfunder crawler comprises a check box that allows the user to deactivate the keywords filter in order to get results that include registered organisations along with BTR ones. When enabled, an input box appears that contains the selected keywords mentioned above. The user can add more keywords to the box or use the default ones.
Under the keywords feature, there are another two checkboxes. Provided both of them are unchecked, the app merely returns a list with the name and URL of the resulting projects. When the checkbox ‘Create network files’ is checked, the program will return also two exportable files in the appropriate format for Gephi, an open-source network analysis and visualization software package.
When imported into Gephi, these two csv – comma-separated values - files are used to create a network visualisation: nodes on the network represent the projects returned by the app and the edges, the relations between them based on their common contributors. In fact, one of the files will contain the information about the nodes, such as the name of the project, its URL on the platform or its category on the platform, and the other file the information of the edges, such as the id of the two nodes the specific edge is connecting, the number of connections or common contributors to both projects and the username on the platforms of those contributors.
By leaving also checked the box ‘Create Statistics file’, an addition file is created that contains the username of the contributors of the resulting projects, the money they pledged and so on. This file can be used to create a histogram with Google Charts for each of those projects, which will show the distribution of the total amount pledged by its backers. These histograms are intended to be used in combination with Google Maps to create an interactive visualisation showing the location of crowdfunding projects on a UK map. When clicking on a marker on the map, the histogram for that specific project will be display.
The Spacehive crawler is based on a simpler development and accordingly presents less features. On the one hand, it does not deploy co-link analysis, and therefore, there is no need for the user to provide a seed. On the other hand, the option to create the files for Gephi does not feature due to the same reason that co-link analysis is not used: in Spacehive is not usual to find funders who had contributed to more than one project. Thus, it makes no sense to create a network with few or no relations at all.
Moreover, even though the app displays the input box for the keywords, this restriction can not be deactivated for the Spacehive crawler. However, it does present the option to create the statistics file for the interactive map.