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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why Digg might Diee

"The problem with the whole concept of taking advantage of the 'wisdom of crowds' is that crowds have no wisdom," writes Jason Clarke.

Well, the wisdom of crowds applies only when the crowds in question have a certain level of diversity in them. I have no idea if this is so at Digg, but it is not the case in most Digg clones that I have seen, especially the local ones. If sites that depend on the wisdom of crowds do not reach critical mass quickly enough, they tend to get homogenous, with a dominant group repelling all others. In that sense, Clarke's analysis is spot on.

Also, as is obvious in Rediff's message boards, people who administer community sites face an issue of how to control the noise-to-signal ratio. Too much crud, and the serious participants decide not to waste their time there. Quality dips massively. Thus, sensible moderation, or sensible modes of moderation, are a must. For large sites, editorial interaction is often not scalable, and leaving such moderation to the wisdom of crowds themselves works only after a critical mass is reached.

I'm not as pessimistic about social media sites as Clarke is, but one thing I do know: getting a crowd that is diverse enough and keeping the noise-to-signal ratio down are both incredibly hard. Many entrepreneurs seem to be looking at Web 2.0 as a way to make some quick money, but most of them, inevitably, are bound to fail.

(Clarke link via email from MadMan.)
amit varma, 10:27 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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