Crowdsourcing Information is Bad
The rise of the Internet has brought with it the rise of crowdsourcing information, the practice of general people generating knowledge from their homes. Previously information resources were more likely to be appraised and sorted by word-of-mouth or information professionals such as librarians and educators. However, with the mixture of Google’s popularity-based sorting algorithms and information resources such as Wikipedia, crowd-sourcing information has become the norm. There are a great many problems with this, many of which will be explored herein.
Invalidity of Information
The great advantage traditional information resources have, particularly in the education sector, is that there is a filter that collects and prevents absolute nonsense being published. While this is not always the case, in the reputable journals and newspapers information without a source is not considered information at all. However, with sites like Yahoo Answers it seems to largely be the case that anything goes. Take for example the following Yahoo Answers discussion concerning Milla Jovovich getting angry on Television in France:
The answer by Harvis Potter is simply wrong. It had nothing to do with whether or not Milla Jovovich is a lesbian, bi-sexual or heterosexual. Rather, the host of the program was asking her about her father that had been imprisoned. This is a great example of crowd-sourcing simply providing terrible and incorrect information. In fact, any Information Source that does not distinguish between experts and people who simply do not know what they are talking about is a bad information source. Afterall, how much faith can you put in a source of information that lumps experts in on equal footing with these people:
This is not to say that these people are bad, they are simply bad sources of information given too strong a voice by a source of information that does not adequately take into account expertise. Consider that any Wikipedia article you might read could easily be created by or even edited by the very same people and it is easy to see why Crowd-sourcing Information is a poor idea given unfair credence by a modern age obsessed with gadgets regardless of the lack of legitimate content they contributed to people’s lives.
Many proponents of crowd-sourcing would disagree with much of the points raised herein and argue that the strength of the information on Wikipedia shows that crowd-sourcing can work. The problem is that it is not a fair example of crowd-sourcing because the original researchers and authors that created that information content are not generally those contributing. Rather, people are acquiring that information and ‘spinning’ it. Wikipedia does this under the guise of fair-use, the argument being that it is fair to use information for the sake of making a point. The problem here is two-fold:
- It does not result in the people who generated the content getting paid, meaning they cannot generate more content
- Fair use is meant to allow information to be used for the sake of commenting on it. Wikipedia does not have authorship or a voice so violates this fair use.
In essence, Wikipedia is basically the world’s most successful content spinning website that Google is too afraid to crack down on because they are too concerned what will happen to their bank account and popularity for doing so.