Friday, December 29, 2006

More Debatable Crowd Behavior

I just took another peek at the Z-List on Squidoo: 449 entries, 36 with positive votes, 10 with zero votes, 403 with negative votes. That’s 89.8% of the list with one or more negative votes; that’s just a little better than yesterday’s 93.2%. If you go look at the Z-List and scroll to the bottom, you’ll notice The Leadership Epidemic at #448 the 2nd worst on the list.

On a more interesting note, the list has a new header, the gist of which is "Stop Being So Mean, Quit Voting People Down and Play Nice." Good luck on that one; the mob has already voted.

However, the message isn’t what caught my attention. Rather, it’s the title, sub-header and first line.

The Wisdom of Crowds?
How anonymity can lead to bad
...and what you can do about it.

If you’ve read much of anything that Seth Godin has written, you know his thoughts regarding the perils of anonymity and how it leads to bad behavior. If you didn’t know better, you would think that the Plexo, Squidoo, Z-List experiment was an attempt to show just that; anonymity leads to bad behavior.

But this started me thinking that maybe it’s not the bad behavior that matters here. For all it matters, everyone could vote the list up and the result would be the same, a worthless list full of worthless ratings.

Maybe the problem isn’t that anonymity leads to bad behavior so much as anonymity leads to worthless behavior. Better yet, maybe the measure of anonymous behavior leads to worthless metric; at least in terms of the quality of recommendations.

What are your thoughts?

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