The wisdow of the few: web sites eye vast number of users to identify experts

PicksPal
“A small number of Web sites seeking to turn the wisdom of the Internet on its head by sifting through its vast number of users to identify a handful of experts,” writes Alan Sipress in the San Francisco Chronicle. “If this novel approach withstands scrutiny, the reverberations could extend well beyond sports betting to include stock trading, popular culture and other realms.”

“For the past decade, much of the Internet has been animated by the “wisdom of crowds,” the notion that the tremendous masses drawn to the Web can together provide collective knowledge that outperforms even that of experts. By marshaling the knowledge and tastes of millions of people, the Web has fundamentally changed the way people can gain knowledge about their world.”

“But this wisdom of the crowd could be outsmarted by what Michael Arrington, editor of the TechCrunch blog, recently dubbed the “wisdom of the few.” Sites like PicksPal rely on input from the masses chiefly as a venue for auditioning prospective experts, on the theory that these virtuosos could provide more accurate information and predictions than the crowd.”

“If you figure out which ones did the best and get rid of the ones who have no idea, you’d do even better. Distill it down to the people who really know,” Arrington said.

“[…] As more Web sites try to find ways to tap the expertise of smart people, a great debate is shaping up between two competing models for harnessing the human mind.”

Featured sites: PicksPal, Marketocracy and SocialPicks.

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  1. As it was highlighted in a post from Jakob Nielsen on Participation Inequality: “In most online communities […] 1% of the users account for almost all the action”. It seems then that “group wisdom” online is a very elusive concept as anyway only few users account for most of the content. In this context identifying and leveraging expert or intensive users can bring much more benefits to these Web sites.

    There is one important caveat highlighted in the article. How do you get these experts to stick to your Web site and not go solo?