I wrote an article a while ago that talked about groupthink on Digg, and how it was a very bad thing. Of course it was inevitable that my article made it to the front page of Digg, only to be buried by people who didn’t agree with me.
Google recently rolled out a service called ‘search wiki‘. It allows you to manipulate your search results. You can push sites up to the top, or remove them altogether. Why they call it a wiki is beyond me, because for now, this manipulation only affects the results you see. If I push my blog to the top of the list when I search for blogs, Google will not push that link up to the top of your list. What does manipulating your own search results have to do with a wiki?
But that is not the point of this post. It worries me a little that they call it a wiki. Does this mean they will eventually use this data to give some pages a higher page ranking than others? I’m as big of a fan of ‘crowds‘ as the next person, but the unfortunate truth is sometimes crowds get it wrong. If we turn search results into a democratic process, we’re only going to get what other people are seeing. I hate this enough on Digg, please don’t bring this to my search engine!
When you’re looking for information you need information from all sides, not just the popular side, or even the ‘agreed upon’ side. One only needs to look at the entire history of science to realize that sometimes we should listen to the quack who is preaching against the norm (from Copernicus to Harry Hess), because that person just might have something of value to add to our understanding. If these people are ‘voted down’ or silences by the uninformed masses, it will be very bad day indeed.