Crowdsourcing: diversity in the crowd

15 Nov

I chose “Talking Points Memo U.S. attorneys” case since the word “left-center” which Muthukumaraswamy mentioned attracted my attention. I am curious about the credibility of the result of crowdsourcing when the website has certain ideology. Will the result be biased when the “crowds” of the website have common ideology? Or will the common ideology strengthen the users’ determination to find out the truth? In my opinion, I think that bias in crowdsourcing can sometimes be devastating. Diversity in the crowd should be important. The link addressed that diversity of opinion among crowd need to be ensured to bring the potential of the crowd into full play. The crowdsourcing way which Speechology uses may be able to reduce the biased risk because the website invites their users to provide “videos” as testimonies. Speechology becomes an “archive of videos” showing what politicians had actually said which diminish the risk of bias.

According to Muthukumaraswamy (2009), TPM “has capitalized on these services by utilizing simple reader alerts and extensive analysis by its robust audience.” And the author also mentioned that “most readers of TPM are well connected, and have expertise in specialized fields such as law, policy and national intelligence” (Muthukumaraswamy, 2009, p.53) However, I could not find any contributors requirement on TPM website when I sign up. I wonder about how they do the contributors screening process to “recruiting an expert audience” since I do not think that the TPM has the right to ask audience providing their personal information when audience contributes. If the TPM is just screening audience’s contribution by their employees, then I do not see that there is difference from other “general audience” generating website. Therefore, I do not think that the subheading “wisdom of crowds in general-interest reporting by recruiting an expert audience” is suitable. “Wisdom of crowds in general-interest reporting by recruiting generalists” may be more suitable.

Crowdsourcing is definitely a good way to supervise government. Besides the TPM provides a platform for their audiences to gather and contribute information about the government, there are more and more websites also try to supervise government. Therefore, the U.S. government started to “embrace crowdsourcing.” Besides “the President Obama’s goal to create a more transparent, participatory and collaborative government” declared by the White House. I also found many government websites such as St. Louis County Crime Incident Map and Ideas for Seattle. The crowdsourcing trend may change the old administrative way of government.

To sum up, I do not think that the TPM is a good example of crowdsourcing because I cannot be sure that the information on the website is really from “crowd.” Unlike the Ushahidi website has clear way for audiences to contribute information, I do not understand where the “open-source” of the TPM is. To me, it is more like regular news website where users can comment.


6 Responses to “Crowdsourcing: diversity in the crowd”

  1. Sadie November 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    I agree with you that TFM is not the best example of crowdsourcing because of its focus on a specific ideology. This leads to bias, which limits diversity and the varying opinions that could be contributed to solve or provide helpful solutions to a situation. I think being “left centered” polarizes TFM and limits its ability to be a pure example of crowdsourcing.

  2. Xuerui November 17, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    I am glad that you brought up the credibility issue of crowdsourcing. I was thinking about that in last minute. There is no doubt that it is effective way to gather information and also it could produce some user biases. It is brilliant that some websites invites their users to provide videos. In this way, it reduces the chance of fake news. Crowdsourcing is definitely good to supervise government. But I am concerned that if the government would let negative news published, especially in some countries where censorship is still an issue. I bet the last thing ireporters want is that FBI knock their door and invite them to talk.

  3. ltn0913 November 18, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    I think the “credibility of the result of crowdsourcing” you mentioned can be an issue. But in my opinion, it depends on different cases. In the case I chose “News-Press utilities rates”, it’s credible because it’s an investigation that related everyone’s interest in that community very closely, so people got strong motivation and lots of enthusiasm to figure the thing out and they contributed their time, effort, and knowledge etc. Besides, I agree with you that “Crowdsourcing is definitely a good way to supervise government”, but I don’t think it applys to some ones, like Burmese.

  4. fanninchen November 18, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    I agree with you that crowdsourcing is a great way to supervise the government. I went to the “speechology” website and took a look at it. Though the idea is quite clever to examine what the politicians said, but the comment were not that much influential. The highest rating video (5 stars) only got one comment!? I do not consider that is effectively enough to have an impact on the issue, or say, the validity of people’s attention shown on the website will be a problem.
    However, the crowd’s wisdom and power indeed has its strength to confront with the big fish, the government. I like your argument.

  5. Mindy McAdams December 19, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    Your sources are not about the TPM case.

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