A key issue, whenever people work together to solve a complex problem, is how to divide the problem into parts done by different people and combine the parts into a solution for the whole problem. This paper presents a novel way of doing this with groups of contests called contest webs. Based on the analogy of supply chains for physical products, the method provides incentives for people to (a) reuse work done by themselves and others, (b) simultaneously explore multiple ways of combining interchangeable parts, and (c) work on parts of the problem where they can contribute the most.
The paper also describes a field test of this method in an online community of over 50,000 people who are developing proposals for what to do about global climate change. The early results suggest that the method can, indeed, work at scale as intended.