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Why the wisdom of crowds is bunk and what Web 3.0 really is. Also, some of Fark's favorite Headlines of the Week for 6/27 - 7/3 
Posted by Drew at 2010-07-06 2:12:19 PM (49 comments) | Permalink
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5974 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Jul 2010 at 2:17 PM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



The "wisdom of crowds" is the most ridiculous statement I've heard in my life.

Yeah I said it.

Crowds are not wise. There is wisdom in crowds but you have to search to find it. If you ask an obscure question to a million people, odds are at least one person knows the answer to it. This however does not make the crowd wise.

Crowds don't make decisions very well. Try asking 10 friends where they want to go to dinner, see how long it takes to reach a decision. Eventually someone just decides and everyone goes. That's how social media works too.

The decisions crowds make aren't necessarily right. Just because everyone wants something doesn't mean it's a good idea. Such as the crusades, slavery, the holocaust, and Everybody Loves Raymond.

Digg has a porn filter. Why? Because they needed it. Consider the ramifications that one fact has for crowdsourced news. My local newspaper website tells me what the most popular stories of the day are but they might as well just replace that with every article they write about Kentucky Basketball because it's the same list of stories. One day UK Coach John Calipari cut down a tree in his front yard, it became the most popular article on their website. Does that mean it's also the most important? Absolutely not.

Crowds don't generally participate. Maybe 5% percent of everyone posts content online, the other 95% of us read it.

For some damn reason or other there's this lingering idea out there that the Internet is somehow fostering a global utopian democracy where everyone participates, no one is left out, and the right decision is always reached through reasoned debate and consensus.

Seriously?

The real question should be why no one else is calling bullshiat on this.

Fark isn't legacy media and we don't have shareholders. So I can say it. I don't have venture capitalists who can tell me to stop.

I've said it before too, and whenever I say it to a room full of journalists I get smiles and nodding heads. They all know it. It's probably the worst kept secret on the Internet.

The real power in social media happens when that one person in a million comes up with an awesome idea, and those who can do so kick it to the front of the line. Speeding up this process is the next great advance in social media. Some will probably call this Web 3.0.

I call it editing.

To read the article based on the Poynter discussion, click here

To read the thoughtful and measured Fark response, click here


Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2010-06-27 to Sat 2010-07-03:

img1.fark.net  O N E D E A D A F T E R B A N N E R P L Α N E C R A S H E S I N S A L T L A K E C I T Y    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Huge wildfire spreads in northern Manitoba, grows by 20,000 acres overnight. Resident worried    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Not news: Hottie gets to pick her own 19th birthday present from parents. Fark: She chooses botox treatments. TotalFark: Parents get them for her. Now 27, she still looks surprised at their answer    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Jenna Bush's "Today Show" segment about her visit to Yellowstone proves that the apple doesn't fall far from the whatever it is that apples come from    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Pregnant drinking "affects sperm." Well then, spit it out    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Buddhist monk films naked woman bathing in holy water. Temple tantrum ensues    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Toronto police say they attacked a G20 crowd singing the national anthem because of the Maple Leafs; once you hear "O Canada", you know the locals are about to get beaten    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  US officials say they were tipped off to the Russian "sleeper" agents after learning that hot women had been spotted at parties appearing actually interested in talking to scientists and engineers about their jobs    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  A computer program has deciphered a dead language that has mystified even the most cunning linguists for years. "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine." Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a biatch    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Fox News asks: Is libraries necessary, or are them a waste of money our?    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Woman killed after portable toilet crashes through her windshield. Bet she never saw that shiat coming    img.fark.net


Sports:

img1.fark.net  Golfer finishes 612 holes in 16 hours. No, it's not Tiger    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Today's Fark-ready headline brought to you by MLB: "Fister set to make return to mound"    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  FIFA to consider instant replay, other technologies to improve game. By "other technologies" we can only assume they mean some device that puts helmets on players, allows tackling and converts ball into a sort of lozenge-shaped object    img.fark.net


Geek:

img1.fark.net  Shopping could make men impotent, claim scientists who've obviously been forced to sit outside fitting rooms holding a purse    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  "Virginity test" helps free three in rape cases. In other news, TotalFark subscriptions are now admissible in court    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  I like small feet and I cannot lie, you other human behavior researchers can't deny    img.fark.net


Showbiz:

img1.fark.net  The divorce of Jesse James by the coward Sandra Bullock is finalized    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Madame Tussauds to unveil Kim Kardashian wax figure. They had to melt down two Marx Brothers and Jonathan Winters to make her ass, but they figure it's worth it    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Back to the Future is 25 years old today. Michael J Fox, Lea Thompson steal a Delorean, Parkinson's garage    img.fark.net


Politics:

img1.fark.net  Robert Byrd will be respected in death the same way he lived his life, lying in the Senate    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  In the last week, the GOP has screwed the unemployed, protected bankers, trashed Thurgood Marshall, suggested rape is part of God's plan, defended BP, screwed unemployed veterans, and threatened to stiff 20 million Americans. The Aristocrats  

img1.fark.net  Schwarzenegger not too keen on the idea of digital license plates being driven before him    img.fark.net


Music:

img1.fark.net  41 years later, Jake Holmes takes Led Zeppelin to court for ripping off his version of "Dazed And Confused." Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Spirit, Bobby Parker and Howlin' Wolf want to know where the line forms    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Beta Band's Steve Mason angry at Damon Albarn for "dominating" Glastonbury's main stage two years in a row, with Blur and Gorillaz. Mason would've said more, but shift manager was upset at the length of the drive-thru line    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  XTC to re-release 1986's "Skylarking" on double vinyl because Andy Partridge says they reversed the sound polarity on the first record. Dear God    img.fark.net


Business:

img1.fark.net  When capitalism meets cannabis, or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the bong    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Swatch creator dies. Family will spread his remains in a series of cheap plastic urns which they can switch around depending on their mood    img.fark.net

img1.fark.net  Company denies liability for defective railroad ties on grounds of "unreasonable misuse." Apparently they were left outside in bad weather and heavy trains rolled over them    img.fark.net
· · ·
(view entire blog)


49 Comments   (+0 »)
   
 
2010-07-06 02:19:59 PM
95% of us like Boobies.
 
2010-07-06 02:23:20 PM
To quote my 10th grade geometry teacher -- "the mass is an ass."

Good luck with the editors -- legacy publishing is still undervaluing and firing them. They figure that it is good enough for outsourcers to copy edit the typos of any manuscript that comes in, hope it is relevant and go.
 
2010-07-06 02:23:52 PM
Crowds rule, you drool!!
 
2010-07-06 02:25:03 PM
tl;dr
 
2010-07-06 02:26:40 PM
Isn't Fark basically crowdsourcing, with editors? I think stuff like wikipedia has worked quite well, if not astoundingly well. Look at any scientific article on wiki, and it flat out beats the shiat out of the science 'journalism' in the NYT/ect. Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean it's not 100% better than the alternative...
 
2010-07-06 02:26:43 PM
For some damn reason or other there's this lingering idea out there that the Internet is somehow fostering a global utopian democracy where everyone participates, no one is left out, and the right decision is always reached through reasoned debate and consensus.

Politics tab asplodes.
 
2010-07-06 02:29:02 PM
i149.photobucket.com
He dun insulted us! Grab a rail, a bucket of tar and some feathers!
 
2010-07-06 02:29:21 PM
www.balistes.com

olivercowdery.com

Agrees.


/also, this (might be NSFW) came up on a GIS for "madness of crowds" for some reason
 
2010-07-06 02:30:35 PM
[insert clever web 3.0 / Jeff/ "get over it" joke here]

i need more coffee before i can think of the funny
 
2010-07-06 02:31:57 PM
"wisdom of crowds" is about the fact that knowledge is generally dispersed. Drew seems to be conflating this with public opinion.
 
2010-07-06 02:32:53 PM
the thoughtful and measured Fark response

That thread was beautiful.
 
2010-07-06 02:33:48 PM
The view that crowds are wise has the same validity and intellectual honesty applied to it as the Efficient Market Hypothesis (new window).

Just because a group of people is large and hard to measure and understand does not mean it's always right. In fact, most of the time it's the exact opposite (new window)...

Anyone remember the Salem Witch Trials? Or the Satanism-child-abuse-rings craze a few decades ago? Or any financial crisis in history?

Crowds are made up of individuals. Crowds tend to follow the first individual to make a move (or the most influential) -- and those leaders are just as likely to fark up as anyone.
 
2010-07-06 02:33:49 PM
Nice to know Thomas Hobbes is still around after all these years.
 
2010-07-06 02:34:21 PM

The decisions crowds make aren't necessarily right. Just because everyone wants something doesn't mean it's a good idea. Such as the crusades, slavery, the holocaust, and Everybody Loves Raymond.


homepage.mac.com
 
2010-07-06 02:38:07 PM
The biggest reason the "wisdom of crowds" is shiat is because most of the human race is retarded compared to people like me. Remember how Forrest Gump was a bumbling dumb-ass who didn't really understand anything? That's what I see surrounding me every single farking day and it's enough to make me weep.
 
2010-07-06 02:39:22 PM
+1
 
2010-07-06 02:40:22 PM
"Some will probably call this Web 3.0.

I call it editing."

Exactly.
 
2010-07-06 02:41:42 PM
I'd like to know why there's a really lame headline like this almost every week, and it always gets insta-greenlit. If I tried to submit this, it would go red before I could even hit the submit button.
 
2010-07-06 02:42:33 PM
Molavian: The biggest reason the "wisdom of crowds" is shiat is because most of the human race is retarded compared to people like me. Remember how Forrest Gump was a bumbling dumb-ass who didn't really understand anything? That's what I see surrounding me every single farking day and it's enough to make me weep.

I'll have to say that the second biggest one, then, is the diffusion of responsibility that crowds offer themselves, leaving little or no accountability for individual actions.
 
2010-07-06 02:44:06 PM
Woman killed after portable toilet crashes through her windshield. Bet she never saw that shiat coming

+10..... hilarious. I missed that one.
 
2010-07-06 02:45:17 PM
The "wisdom of crowds" is the most ridiculous statement I've heard in my life.

You have never listened to Sara Palin?
 
2010-07-06 02:45:21 PM
For some damn reason or other there's this lingering idea out there that the Internet is somehow fostering a global utopian democracy where everyone participates, no one is left out, and the right decision is always reached through reasoned debate and consensus.

i counter this argument with 4chan and rule 34

now matter what there is somewhere on the internet for everyone
 
2010-07-06 02:47:19 PM
Molavian: The biggest reason the "wisdom of crowds" is shiat is because most of the human race is retarded compared to people like me. Remember how Forrest Gump was a bumbling dumb-ass who didn't really understand anything? That's what I see surrounding me every single farking day and it's enough to make me weep.

imgs.xkcd.com
 
2010-07-06 02:50:08 PM
You'll get no argument from me.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it."

- Kay to Jay, MIB
 
2010-07-06 02:52:52 PM
I thought the wisdom of crowds was bunk just because Drew said so.
 
2010-07-06 02:55:22 PM
Drew is right, of course. Millions of people are morons. What needs to happen is someone to step up, take charge, and put things in order exactly the way they see fit. All people are good for is promoting the ideas of the leader to the rest of the sheep.

I think Drew would join me in saying that what the internet needs, indeed what this entire generation needs, is another Adolph Hitler.

www.topnews.in
 
2010-07-06 03:07:13 PM
 
2010-07-06 03:15:07 PM
lolwut
 
2010-07-06 03:17:50 PM
The important thing is that I am okay.
 
2010-07-06 03:46:32 PM
It takes a crowd to raze a village.

/Hi Drew, sorry I scared you in the Gannett lobby last week
 
2010-07-06 03:50:39 PM
The wisdom of crowds is not what you think it is.

What the wisdom of crowds is supposed to mean is that in some cases non-expert crowds collective decisions are often more accurte than single-individual expert-driven decisions. This is not valid for lots of things but is surprisingly effective for other things.

There is a decent summary of this on the Wikipedia, including criticisms of the method and its limitations - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_crowds
 
2010-07-06 04:03:59 PM
The masses are asses.
 
2010-07-06 04:12:20 PM
11 people like this.
 
2010-07-06 04:39:25 PM
damageddude: To quote my 10th grade geometry teacher -- "the mass is an ass."

Good luck with the editors -- legacy publishing is still undervaluing and firing them. They figure that it is good enough for outsourcers to copy edit the typos of any manuscript that comes in, hope it is relevant and go.


Wow, you got Drew's comments and the Kim K wax figure thing in one line. +1 for you and your geo teacher.
 
2010-07-06 04:41:49 PM
sxeflapjack: The view that crowds are wise has the same validity and intellectual honesty applied to it as the Efficient Market Hypothesis (new window).


capital markets may not be perfectly effecient but can you tell me what the correct price should be for every stock in nyse? can you name anyone who can?

as eugene fama says if you are so smart why aren't you rich?


crowd wisdom does not have to be right every time to validate the premise it just has to be right more often than any single expert.
 
2010-07-06 05:08:54 PM
i happen to like everybody loves raymond

i also submitted this with a better headline.
 
2010-07-06 05:44:46 PM
Radiolab on NPR did a segment on the intelligence of crowds. If you get a bunch of people to, say, guess how many jelly beans are in a jar, the average of the guesses is always more accurate than any individual guess. The first guy to study this phenomenon was the same guy who founded the eugenics movement. It didn't groove with his theory that common people are dumb, but he published his results anyways.

Here's the episode: Emergence (new window)
 
2010-07-06 05:58:55 PM
It depends on how the wisdom is aggregated. If you have ten friends deciding on a place for dinner, nine of whom are shy and one with a voice like a foghorn, then Mr. Foghorn will win. In that case, it isn't the wisdom of crowds, it's the wisdom of loud people.

If instead you get a million people, each of whom anonymously ranks restaurants in order of preference in the privacy of their own home, with appropriate safeguards against ballot stuffing, then you can get pretty good results by looking at the Kemeny/Condorcet order, Borda score, or Range score.
 
2010-07-06 06:14:08 PM
Molavian: The biggest reason the "wisdom of crowds" is shiat is because most of the human race is retarded compared to people like me. Remember how Forrest Gump was a bumbling dumb-ass who didn't really understand anything? That's what I see surrounding me every single farking day and it's enough to make me weep.

Wow. You sound really smart.
 
2010-07-06 06:36:40 PM
sharp and to the point

What would you call about 30 people running bot-nets to harass two gaming companies, a film studio and eight different web sites which contain forums for the game common to all?

Jon Smedley called it market research and destroyed a two hundred thousand player community. We refer to such assholes as 1%ers, however they're more commonly less than 1/100th of a percent.

In the near future we're going to see a second example, an aftershock if you will, of what happens when you listen to groups who insist they are the only opinion that matters. The Old Republic is starting to show exactly what those 30 people demanded over and over by spam bot and ragepost. Inept narrow design and a game too easy to play.

As to "editing"... The one thing largely missing from the internet in general is true emotion, displayed in forms of writing and seen also in how disturbed from baseline a person's accuracy in punctuation and spelling becomes. With editing you lose a great deal of contact with the intent of many posts and also commonly gain too much emotional feel from very poorly written posts that rely on spell checkers. There are times when a statement must be made in the heat of emotion in order for it to gain validity.
 
2010-07-06 06:38:43 PM
Yes, I ended in an incomplete and splattered thought and it was intentional.
 
2010-07-06 06:42:49 PM
None of us are as stupid as all of us.
 
2010-07-06 07:17:11 PM
"The real question should be why no one else is calling bullshiat on this."

Do you really want to stick with that claim?

Really?
 
2010-07-06 07:45:26 PM
Two things:
- Crowds are good solving specific styles of problems.
- The effectiveness of crowds in solving these problems is directly related to the tools given to them.

/ for example, the fark interface sucks arse
// no greenlights for MachineHead in nine years! really?!?!
/// bitter

(otoh, my submissions did suck)
 
2010-07-07 01:06:53 AM
I was told there would be pie.
 
2010-07-07 01:16:39 AM
Nice, I got another HOTW.

/Libraries.
 
2010-07-07 01:25:03 AM
Crowds may be dumb, but all evidence (and the music and politics threads in particular) suggest that Fark's moderators, hand-picked by Drew, are considerably dumber.
 
2010-07-07 10:04:00 AM
woah, two HOTW in two weeks' time.

/now showing my surprised look.
 
2010-07-07 11:01:16 AM
JeffBarea: I was told there would be pie.

Wrong thread (new window).
 
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