Credit: By Rocio Lara on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Collaborative, crowdfunded journalism platform Contributoria, now at its 10th issue, reported 727 collaborators this month, up from 516 in September.

It unveiled its prototype a little over a year ago, and since its first issue in January 2014 it has published 292 articles and crowdfunded over £120,000 for its writers.

Editor Sarah Hartley told "This is not just about the funding, it's about joining people together to make these stories better, to actually support the writers in ways other than just financially, with ideas and suggestions and help."

Contributoria was "always going to be an international project", but Hartley was surprised by the global spread of stories in October's issue, tackling subjects like 'Kalashnikovs and cameras on the road to Syrian freedom' or 'Income inequality: how big is the gap between Ireland's rich and poor?'.

Image by Dean Vipond, from

While Contributoria has published themed issues in the past, like 'the press freedom issue' in April and 'the world we want' in conjunction with the UN in June, October's issue was open to submissions on any subject.

"As all the proposals came in," said Hartley, "I was looking at it and thinking 'is there a linking theme here that we could say this issue is mostly about...' and the thing that struck me most was how global they all were."

The process from proposal to published article runs over three months at Contributoria, starting from pitches for funding in the first month, moving on to writing the 'backed' articles, and publishing the finished stories in the final month.

But what is it like running a collaborative journalism platform? Learning how writers like to work and translating that into new tools for the site plays a big part, said Hartley.

She said Contributoria invited some of its writers to a session similar to a "UX [user experience] lab" to find out more about "how people actually go about their writing and what's important to them".

"We're trying to build as many things as we can that help them [writers] in their day to day work," she said.

"Money is one part of it, but also how to build the system that really suits them so Contributoria becomes the place where they come to work every day."

The team behind Contributoria is currently looking at developing more features for writers to be able to connect with each other. This is possible at present through comments before a story is published, but these comment threads "can get a bit clunky", she said.

Hartley said that while the team was blogging and spreading the word through social media, getting Contributoria's name out there was an "ongoing task". As such, more options for sharing stories and tools for writers to tell a wider audience about their projects are also in the works.

"It's challenging for everybody to be a start-up, particularly in the news environment," she said. "It's always going to be challenging to get known, to get that voice out which is another reason why it's great to see all these global things."

While funding is not its sole point of focus when it comes to helping writers see their stories published, Contributoria is also planning to add more ways for journalists to earn money through the platform.

Writers set their own fees, and Hartley said Contributoria is "very strict on that" to allow journalists to earn what they need to finance projects that can involve travel or the purchase of specialised equipment.

"Obviously the community provides money to them," said Hartley, "but we also do offer re-licensing of the articles so they get a chance to basically syndicate their copy elsewhere as well.

"We're looking at more ideas like that which will actually add up to pounds and pennies for people."

While Contributoria also has a print magazine and an e-reader version available to its subscribers, there are no other plans to move the platform's output further in this direction.

"Print is a nice thing for our members to be able to enjoy, but really we are an online entity so we're concentrating most on developing the features that are actually on the platform," she said.

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