Often, it does not. That's why we developed the corroboration engine to more effectively mine collective knowledge and experience for reliable information.
KnowledgeFilter has developed a new approach to tapping collective knowledge and wisdom. By asking people to post evidence for and against a given viewpoint, and then tracking the reactions to individual pro and con comments, the KnowledgeCenter system is able to do two important things:
First, it allows people to sort large volumes of information, not only by multi-criteria ratings, but by the level of comment support as measured by the ratio of supporting to non-supporting information.
Then, it pushes the most highly agreed upon positions from both viewpoint to the top, allowing each user to evaluate the best arguments on both sides for themselves.
This is, in effect, a large scale "peer review" process. "Peer-review" is the process used by the most reputable scientific journals to determine the credibility of articles that are allowed to be published. In the web-based KnowledgeFilter system, many more articles can be published, but only the most valuable ones rise to the top of the visibility hierarchy.
In this way, information is brought to the attention of others by the preponderance of evidence and anecdotal data, but all viewpoints remain available for consideration. After all, it is often the minority positions that turn out to provide the "out of the box" framework for new understandings.
KnowledgeFilter keeps track of the IP addresses of participants and will not register more than one vote per IP number.
The system has two types of controls to filter content:
The first, is the basic process of group-moderation. This is where the ratings and other feedback from users causes the most valuable content to rise to the top. Inappropriate content is quickly sent to the visibility dungeons the bottom of the list of postings or comments.
The second control is the moderator alert. The moderator alert link on the bottom of each page provides a form that sends the page in question, along with the complaint to a moderator who can remove it if it is offense, blatantly commercial or needs to be moved to a more appropriate category.
Postings can be sorted in a variety of ways. One of the most valuable ways to sort information is by corroboration level - that is, the number of supporting comments and links. When the user sorts by corroboration level, the software finds the total number of positive or supporting comments for each posting on a subject, subtracts the number of opposing or dissenting comments, and then brings the most highly supported postings to the top. Both types of comments are available at all times for review below each posting. Users can read supporting and opposing comments and then decide for themselves what to believe.
Information can also be sorted by the author's reputation rating. In the cookbook, for example, recipes can be sorted to favor authors of other popular recipes. In more expertise-dependent fields such as medicine and finance, there are two types of users, casual users and "registered experts". In these forums, users can chose to sort opinions by registered expert feedback or by casual user opinion and personal experience.
Community forums are co-located on Web sites that are frequented by hobbyists and enthusiasts who are particularly interested in sharing knowledge on their favorite subject. This sense of participatory community has motivated millions of people to generate millions of pages of information and opinion in blogs and Usenet newsgroup forums despite their low signal-to-noise ratio and complete lack of incentive programs.
We expect most forums to be seeded with an initial body of content by or for the sponsoring partner. In many cases, a large body of knowledge is already available on topic-specific sites. This knowledge-base can easily be imported to the KnowledgeFilter system. In the case of a wine or investment site, for example, the online reviews or opinions already buried within a sponsoring site could form the core of an interactive KnowledgeFilter Forum which would then grow by user participation.
A moderator can remove inappropriate postings and prevent troublesome users from re-entering the system.
Most forums include the opportunity for any user to post opposing views, or links to opposing views. Users are encouraged to review both favorable and opposing comments that accompany postings. Some postings will be accompanied by numerous opinions on both sides of the issue, thereby identifying them as controversial by nature.