Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quick Note: Community Sites & Advice

I've ranted in great length before about the disadvantages of crowdsourcing your bullshit filter; this is just a footnote to that. In this thread from Hacker News, a programmer asks for advice on how to pay the rent without writing code, so he doesn't have to write code for other people, only for his own projects. I've achieved exactly that, but leave that aside for now. Take a look at the answers.

They are, as always in sites that follow this terrible model, sorted by upvotes, which is to say, sorted by explicit voting to determine popularity. There is no filter on the voting which requires that a voter test the advice before voting for or against it. There is likewise no filter on the contributing which requires that a contributor base their advice on experience of any kind.

The community-upvoting model of news sites encourages groupthink, and the effect on advice is especially bad. If you're looking for an answer to an unconventional challenge, you want your responses sorted not by community popularity, but by likelihood of success and appropriateness to your situation.