While interviewing with Fabrice Florin of NewTrust for newassignment.net, I asked him the following question:
Why does socially driven media fail to regulate inaccuracy and bias? If we are to believe in the wisdom of the crowds, than a site like digg, with its army of 600,000 users, should be able to create a truly wise community which would only promote the best content, no?
He answered me as
aving myself encountered both these problems, and having written about inaccuracy and bias in social meda, I wanted to get his opinion on these problems and allow him to present a potential solution.
Although Fabrice was perhaps a little too brutal, he had the following to say:
There is one simple reason. Digg has no discipline! It has no code of ethics, or a very minor code of ethics, to flag a story that appears to be inaccurate. But they don’t have discipline. They only ask one question. “Do you like this story?”
What ends up happening is that Digg becomes a measure of popularity rather than quality. And of course popularity is an important metric to be used when judging journalism, but it is one many things that should be taken into account.
Digg is a game. It is entertainment, where people go in, and part of the game is to put in things that you like and hope that they make it to the top, and then your name gets associated with it. I have been in the industry for a while, and I can recognize a game when I see one. Digg has everything, it has the scoring (ranking) and the fun payoffs. It is first and foremost an entertainment experience.
However, Florin also recognizes the importance of Digg. Although it may seem like it is just an entertainment experience, it serves other purposes as well.
As a secondary outcome, it provides a valuable service. Because 1) it gets citizens engaged, and 2) it does provide a filter, based on popularity. And popularity does have some value. It is one of the data points that you can look at. But it is not sufficient by itself. Popularity is not the same as quality, and by measuring popularity, you are someways deceiving the public, by giving the impression that those are good quality pieces. But they are not, they are just popular pieces. There is a big difference.
NewsTrust tries to differentiate itself with a focus on quality rather than popularity. They do ask the readers if they would recommend a story, but at the same time they also ask 11 other questions when judging the merits of an article.
What we try to do is focus on quality. We help you, as a reader, go beyond your gut instinct. We actually help you look at the story on its own merits.
NewsTrust helps you get past that gut reaction. I don’t care wether you agree or disagree with Bush policies. We are only interested in knowing if it is good journalism or not. And the way to do this is to look at the methodology:
1. Is this report presenting opinions as facts?
2. Are they presenting a balanced viewpoint?
3. Do they give you the context?
And by asking you a few extra questions, we take you beyond your initial reactions and beliefs, and into the realm where you are actually analyzing the story based on its own merits.
However, he doesn’t think that Digg is completely useless.
Every morning, we go to Digg, and we go to delicious, and we pluck all the gems that are floating amongst the questionable material. There is actually only 5%-10% of the material that has a chance of getting a good rating on our site. And we pluck these pieces and move them to our site. And then we submit them to a more rigorous quality review.
As parting advice, Fabrice mentioned that he doesn’t think that it is a zero-sum game. The readers don’t have to choose between NewTrust, or social media sites such as Digg, Netscape, Reddit. His recommendation to socially driven news and content websites is to go beyond just using popularity as the metric.
He is careful to make a distinction between the wisdom that can be gotten from an intelligent and disciplined crowd, and the popularity-based content promotion we get on social media sites from an indisciplined mob.
Please, we will show you how to do it. If they want to use NewsTrust on Digg, we will work with them. It’s not us versus them. There is value in the mob, but the mob needs to have principles. They need to be disciplined before they can really lead to intelligent choices.
Update 1, December 15, 2006 at 4:47 pm
Fabrice pointed out several important differences between socially driven news and content sites such as Digg and his current project, NewsTrust:
HOW IS NEWSTRUST DIFFERENT FROM DIGG?
A number of folks have asked us how we are different from first-generation social networks like Digg and Del.icio.us.
Here are some key differences between our sites:
* we rate journalistic quality, not just popularity
* we track ratings for each publication in our source reputation database
* stories from our most trusted publication are featured in our daily picks
* our review forms with multiple ratings are more accurate than single-rating systems in assessing content quality
* our research shows that citizens using our review forms can evaluate the quality of news stories reliably - and as effectively as professionals
To discourage gaming, we offer these preventive measures:
* reviewers are identified by their real names, not pseudonyms
* we rate our reviewers, and their ratings are weighed based on member level
* member levels are based on activity, experience, ratings and transparency
* reviewers are rewarded for disclosing political viewpoints
* your ratings count more if you have a higher member level
Check our research on the reliability of our review tools:
Dear reader if you have any Questions and Suggesstion, Please Freely mail me.
Internetional Seo Specialist.