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Can You Trust Crowd Wisdom?

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minority opinion

Credit: Technology Review

A researcher who studied the voting patterns on, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), and the book review site BookCrossings says a small group of users can easily affect online recommendations. In examining hundreds of thousands of items and millions of votes across the three sites, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) professor Vassilis Kostakos discovered that a small number of people were responsible for most of the ratings.

Kostakos' team found that only five percent of active Amazon users voted on more than 10 products, and a handful made recommendations for hundreds of items. Kostakos believes such voting patterns may not reveal views that represent the overall community, and notes that the results help explain why reviews are often overly negative or overly positive. He believes Web sites could get more users to participate by making it easier to offer reviews.

CMU professor Niki Kittur, who was not involved in the project, believes Web sites should summarize a user's review and other contributions so others could see any obvious biases.

From MIT Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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