Scientific Prank Methodology

That's the term I just learned from an article in the latest issue of WIRED. The article explains how Annalee Newitz paid a service to get her incoherent, experimental blog a top rating on Digg. This, according to Newitz, was after Digg CEO Jay Adelson claimed "all the groups trying to manipulate Digg 'have failed,' and that Digg 'can tell when there are paid users.'"

It must sting to be Digg right now. But that's not the only reason I'm blogging about the article. The "cultural engineer" side of me picked up something other than the debunking of a CEO's claims.

It's interesting to read about the lemming effect that ensues once a few paid ratings are imitated by other Digg users. At a time when a lot of attention is given to the alleged usefulness of user recommendations, this is a reminder that the herd instinct is still in effect online.

Since most of us don't have the time to check the reputation of every user name we encounter ourselves, my gut tells me that we should expect to very soon see a service that recommends the best recommendations. Or, at the very least, some new sort of validation layer added to the experience of Digg. Surely, the folks at Digg must be all over it by now...

Read: "I Bought Votes On Digg"

1 comment:

Destructor of Soil said...

The Wired story is interesting. I've definitely followed the herd on different sites because the number of hits something gets can be as useful as title and a photo when making that split second user decision to click on the story/photo/video or not. In this case though, it's interesting how many positive user comments the incoherent blog got.