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Tech Companies Draw on 'Wisdom of the Crowds'

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the figuring-it-out dept.

Businesses 131

An anonymous reader writes "News.com is carrying an article on a 'mini-conference' held at Yahoo's HQ this past Wednesday. The get-together put representatives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and HP together to talk about their experiments with predictive networks. The 'wisdom of the crowds' allows these companies to make use of the collective knowledge their employees hold to answer important questions for the company." From the article: "David Pennock, a principal research scientist at Yahoo Research, said the company has created a currency called a Yootle. It's described as a 'scorekeeping system for favors owed.' Pennock offered as an example a programmer offering to write a piece of code for a few Yootles. Or, when organizing a dinner outing, one employee could use an internal SMS tool to bid 2 Yootles for Italian and 4 Yootles for Mexican. 'If you don't get to go to the restaurant you want to, you get compensation' in Yootles, he said. Related to Yootles is Yahoo Research's experiment with a fantasy prediction market for technology called the Tech Buzz Game. It's a modified version of software licensed from NewsFutures in conjunction with O'Reilly Media and features topics like Atlantic hurricanes and portable media devices. Winners are those who predict how popular a topic will be on Yahoo Search. "

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I think this has a name (4, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256464)

That sounds remarkably similar to the indifference vote [paulbirch.net] that Paul Birch likes to promote. You bid for your preferred option until the money you allocated toward it would make you indifferent, and if you don't get your way, you are paid that much (instead of paying that much). If you do get your way, you pay your bid. I makes you, in essence, indifferent to the outcome. His example:

Let's try a simple example. ... You and your friends want to go to a restaurant. But which one? The Peking Duck or the Spaghetti Italiano? Charles prefers Chinese, but you're a bit strapped for cash and Italian's cheaper. You bid 50p. Charles goes 60p. The girls join in. Amy is on a diet and bids 50p for the Duck, but Beth is always hungry and bids 70p for the Spaghetti; the score is now £1.20 for Italian, £1.10 for Chinese. Amy looks at Charles, who goes up 11p to 71p. You decide to bid another 2p. Charles shakes his head. Amy reluctantly adds another 2p for Chinese herself. The final bids are £1.22 for Italian, £1.23 for Chinese. So off you all trot to the Peking Duck. Amy and Charles fork out 52p and 71p respectively; Beth gets 70p and you get 52p. Amy and Charles get the fancier but less fattening fare they wanted; you get enough money to cover the higher prices, and Beth gets enough for a larger helping. The waitress gets the penny left over.

Re:I think this has a name (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257124)

I prefer the system we use at my office: We stand around coming up with suggestions for 30 minutes. Invariably, every restaurant suggested is shot down by some other member of the group ("I'm not really in the mood for Chinese today..."). Eventually, we all sort of migrate out the door, get into someone's car, and magically end up at a restaurant no one can even remember suggesting, and we eat there.

It's worse for/with me. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259786)

I'm worse because of my physical disabilities. I can't chew and have spicey food. So, it eliminates a lot of food I can have. I usually have to tell people that I need soft food that doesn't require chewing and not spicey (even a little spicey bugs me). I can eat pasta (love lasagna), meat loaf, smash potatoes, boneless fish, etc. It is even harder with restaurants when ordering because 90% of the food are texts, so I have no idea if the food is soft, not spicey, etc. It is easier with buffets so I can pick food that I can have and not waste money on food I couldn't have.

Re:I think this has a name (5, Interesting)

maomoondog (198438) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257210)

The problem with Birch's scheme is that individuals are incentivized to lie about what they want in order to get more money from the group. In the example given where Charles is willing to subsidize a trip to Chinese food, you could extract extra money from him by pretending it's a huge disappointment to you.

For a strategyproof scheme, check out the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves mechanism [wikipedia.org] . Basically, everyone gives weighted votes about something, and the winners of the tally pay a penalty equal to the imposition they caused the rest of the people. Only trouble is, this penalty has to be completely discarded to prevent hyjinx...

Re:I think this has a name (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257394)

I couldn't follow that what so ever..

What you mean is "If your choice doesn't win then you don't pay, if it wins then you pay whatever you bid".

Plain English. :)

Re:I think this has a name (1)

rhombic (140326) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257516)

Unless your choice agrees with the majority, in which case it is beneficial for you to be dishonest and disagree.

In other words, in the listed example, say you wanted Chinese. It's apparent that Chinese is going to win, so it's in your best interest to bid, say , 50p for Italian. In the end, you end up getting the Chinese dinner you wanted, and you managed to extract 50p for the privilege, rather than paying a small amount that you would if you had been honest in your desire to get Chinese.

Like many such systems, these things only work if everyone is utterly honest. And thus have no relationship whatsoever to the real world ;)

Re:I think this has a name (1)

NoOneInParticular (221808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258384)

And then Joe pays a buck for Italian, and combined with your 50p this tips the scale. Off you go, eat Italian you didn't want, and paying 50p for the privilege.
Note that in this scheme you're not going to be able to lower your bid, so this is quite a likely outcome.

Re:I think this has a name (2, Informative)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257464)

Unfortunately such a system can be 'gamed', like many board game players can tell you.

If you know someone really wants option X, but you don't care either way, you can bid against option X, hoping that person will outbid you. Then you'll get money while eating at a place you liked anyway. It's really not much different from pumping the value of your buddy's item on ebay, or proper playing on 'Princes of Florence'

I bid $10 for "eat out of a dumpster". (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257538)

Damn, it looks like I lost again. Well, looks like everyone else is paying for my lunch again.

Yes, it is an extreme example, but it shows how you can "game" that system. Not a good idea.

Re:I bid $10 for "eat out of a dumpster". (1)

Spaceman40 (565797) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259692)

An indifference vote is a technique I have invented for making decisions in which many persons have a legitimate interest. -- Paul Birch [paulbirch.net]
Your "vote" would be invalid. Do you really think that the other people in the system would pay you $10 to not eat out of a dumpster? The entire system is really set up around the assumption that participants have a legitimate interest in the result of the vote. Your "gaming the system" is just you not really having an interest in the result, so the assumptions are broken.

In other words, you can go eat out of the dumpster, we're going to Chili's (or whatever). :)

Color me a tad cynical (4, Funny)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257610)

"Or, when organizing a dinner outing, one employee could use an internal SMS tool to bid 2 Yootles for Italian and 4 Yootles for Mexican. 'If you don't get to go to the restaurant you want to, you get compensation' in Yootles"

Alex I'll take "most retarded use of the Internet for $1000".

It's amazing poeple could go out to lunch harmoniously for decades prior to this stunning reveleation.

No wonder Yahoo is not relevant these days.

Re:Color me a tad cynical (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258072)

No wonder Yahoo is not relevant these days.

MS and the Zune player comes to mind. Gee what do people want in a portable music player?

Drag and drop. Cross platform compatibility. Compatibility with online music services (more than one). Simple easy sharing. Wi-Fi connectivity to eliminate cords and enable sharing would be nice. Small lightweight form.

They kinda hit on a couple features but overall missed the boat entirely.

Wi-Fi that won't connect to your home network? What a miss. No USB drive capability? Incompatible with even the MS format Plays for Sure? What a miss. Big and bulky?

Maybe they will work with a consumer group and get feedback next time.

My system is better (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257836)

A wife who cooks + leftovers = Money in the bank, not the fast food restaurant.

Re:My system is better (2, Funny)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258388)

Hell yeah. That's what I got going on, too. Well, if you change wife to Mom.

Re:My system is better (2, Funny)

pkulak (815640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259826)

"Well, if you change wife to Mom." Good thing too, because the other way around is illegal.

Re:I think this has a name (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258354)

Your right, this system has existed for centuries. I'm not sure if this Paul Birch knows of it. The system [hawaii.edu] is actual the etymological root of the term "handicap". It's not exactly the same. But it relies on the same principle.

Re:I think this has a name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17260316)

Why bother with all this crap when capitalism works perfectly well.

I am surprised it took this long... (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256478)

I am surprised it took them this long to implement as a similar project was implemented at select federal intelligence agencies through DARPA funding back in early 2002 to evaluate possible intelligence leads and threats to national security. Unfortunately the Total Information Awareness program developed out of this work and the true benefits of predictive networks using human intelligence have not really panned out due to an almost pathological reliance and worship of technology supplanting human intelligence rather then supplementing it. Only more recently have projects based on simple, yet tremendously technologies such as wikis been gaining more traction.

Re:I am surprised it took this long... (4, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257116)

I am surprised it took them this long to implement as a similar project was implemented at select federal intelligence agencies through DARPA funding back in early 2002 to evaluate possible intelligence leads and threats to national security.

You may also recall that a particularly bad round of reporting on some related work (wherein people in the defense/intel world were "gambling" futures on which head of state, for example, would next come under attack from within, etc) resulted in headlines like "Government Officials Place Assassination Bets." They actually had to shut that one down because the media idiots got enough people to make congress creatures uncomfortable. I hope they just moved the research out of the bright lights and kept it up, but it just goes to show you that these slightly odd-seeming areas of research can be wildly misinterpreted by people who get all of their interpretation in 10-second sound bites. Um, or slashdot summaries.

Re:I am surprised it took this long... (3, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257246)

Have no fear as "betting pools" work *has* continued and they are proving themselves to be very effective. Also, you are quite correct about your assessment of "odd-seeming areas of research", as they often, particularly in a basic research sense turn out to be incredibly valuable. One classic case was a member of congress bitching about the NIH funding studies to examine bird songs without knowing or understanding some of the neuroscience implications of that work.

Re:I am surprised it took this long... (1)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259240)

I hope they just moved the research out of the bright lights and kept it up

I was actually the lead engineer on this project, and it's completely gone (or at least as far as my company is concerned). The publicity led to a number of private sector prediction markets, but it turns out that most companies, while they are enthusiastic about trying them out, don't want to pay much money for implementation. Perhaps Google et al. will be able to show their value.

Re:I am surprised it took this long... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259546)

I was actually the lead engineer on this project, and it's completely gone (or at least as far as my company is concerned). The publicity led to a number of private sector prediction markets, but it turns out that most companies, while they are enthusiastic about trying them out, don't want to pay much money for implementation.

Bummer. I can only imagine the number of quite cool projects that evaporate that way for one reason or another (and not always for a good reason!).

Re:I am surprised it took this long... (1)

lukateake (619282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259780)

*cough* data model? *cough* Let my username be your guide, Best_ID_Ever!.

Asimov's Foundation series discussed this in 1950s (2, Interesting)

ZahnRosen (1040004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256606)

'You can't predict what any one person will do but you can predict a crowd's actions.' - a rough paraphrase of Asimov

Re:Asimov's Foundation series discussed this in 19 (1)

rumplet (1034332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257048)

The intellect of individuals in a group decreases exponentially as the number of individuals in the group increases.

Re:Asimov's Foundation series discussed this in 19 (1)

ZahnRosen (1040004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257096)

'give a thousand monkeys a typewriter and a thousand years and you'll have the complete works of shakespeare'. Thanks to the internet we now know thats not true.. /. being the exception, of course.

Re:Asimov's Foundation series discussed this in 19 (1)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258192)

"You can't predict what any one person will do." - Asimov

Actually, you can start to predict what any one person will do, and sometimes even what they will say, once you get to know that person. It's a hell of a thing, this "getting to know somebody". I guess Asimov never tried it.

Re:Asimov's Foundation series discussed this in 19 (1)

ZahnRosen (1040004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258414)

There were at least 14 books for the story arc I'm talking about... he covered that base... I do suggest you read them, they are quite good.

Re:Asimov's Foundation series discussed this in 19 (1)

rezac (733345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258608)

Mod parent up.

Was just about to post something similar about Asimov and the Foundation Trilogy (ultimately his whole body of sci-fi works) when I searched for "asimov" to see if anyone felt the same.

Read those back in high school, time to head to the attic and dig them out.

Re:Asimov's Foundation series discussed this in 19 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17259298)

And go back even farther to Freud [wikipedia.org] .

Third! (1)

kirk26 (811030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256612)

Linsux users!

scorekeeping system for favors owed (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256616)

My little sister always managed to keep score in our house without the use of technology. ("I took out the trash for you one day three weeks ago.") The rest of us (even Mom and Dad) found it really annoying... bordering on petty and selfish, and we're all glad she grew out of this (mostly). Doing favors for people shouldn't involve keeping score.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (2, Insightful)

Erixxxxx (920617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257144)

On the other hand, one should never perform labor for others for free or without expecting something in return. It is entirely selfish of someone to expect others to perform labor/favors for them for nothing.

Maybe your sisters problem was that she didnt trust she would be compensated when there perhaps was no basis for that lack of trust. However, there is nothing 'selfish' about expecting and/or demanding compensation.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (1)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257782)

On the other hand, one should never perform labor for others for free or without expecting something in return.

You do get something. You get to live in an environment where the lives of the people you deal with have been made a little easier than they would have been, without your help. And that makes your own life a little easier.

However, there is nothing 'selfish' about expecting and/or demanding compensation.

Whether or not you call it "selfish" is not the point. The point is that, if you expect some quantifiable form of compensation, you leave yourself open to disappointment and feelings of resentment. And that's your problem. If you still want to be like that, though, hey, it's your choice.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257930)

On the other hand, one should never perform labor for others for free or without expecting something in return.

For many people, thanks or a sense of satisfaction are often sufficient 'something in return'. It would be a pretty unpleasant an inefficient world if the majority expected or demanded some other reward for giving directions, holding a door open or allowing a car to pull in.

However, there is nothing 'selfish' about expecting and/or demanding compensation.

From the American Heritage Dictionary:
selfish, adjective
(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure : I joined them for selfish reasons.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258660)

On the other hand, one should never perform labor for others for free or without expecting something in return.
What a cold and empty approach to life. Sounds like you don't have "friends" of even "family"... just "business associates".
However, there is nothing 'selfish' about expecting and/or demanding compensation.
No, that's pretty much the definition of it: what matters to you is yourself, not the needs or wants of others.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257252)

I agree. Keeping score means the favors aren't really favors, they're more like non-monetary loans. Personally, if I end up paying for someone's lunch, or giving them a quarter for the vending machine or whatever, I don't expect that back, and I don't even necessarily expect them to reciprocate in kind. Doing something nice for someone else is its own reward.

In the case of siblings, though, the desire to do good for its own sake is generally trumped by the desire to one-up your sibling at every opportunity. Your sister was probably doing that partly so she could be lazy, but mostly just to irritate you.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (2, Insightful)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257960)

I totally agree with you. This "yootles" idea is hyper-lame, and doomed from the start. Ohh - some idiot wants to eat supper at Denny's, but instead he has to go to Burger Basket, so he gets compensated 5 yootles? Christ. Get over it, man. Just go eat at Burger Basket already. Seriously, if I have to offer some guy "yootles" to get him to eat a meal with me, I don't want to hang out with that jackass in the first place.

The only people using this crap will be dorks with overdeveloped senses of entitlement. Eventually, they won't be able to stand each other, and they'll just stop doing things together.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (2, Interesting)

rsadelle (719824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259866)

Doing favors for people shouldn't involve keeping score.
Yep. It reminds me of something my yoga teacher told us: "There are three kinds of people in the world. The thief takes without ever giving back. The businessperson looks at everything as a transaction - equal for equal. The yogi gives without expectation of anything in return." When I do someone a favor, I'm attempting to be the yogi, not the businessperson.

Re:scorekeeping system for favors owed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17260642)

But Yogi was always taking pic-a-nic baskets!

Yootle domains: Get 'em while they're hot! (2, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256660)

A quick whois at gandi.net [gandi.net] shows that while yootle.com and yootle.net are taken, you can still get .org, .info, and several others.

That whois also reveals something else -- Yahoo! didn't get the .com and .net, as far as I can tell. You would think they'd have thought of that before announcing the name of their new online currency... checking Domain Tools' whois [domaintools.com] shows that the .com has been registered since 1999, and the .net since 2005. Neither is an active site.

Re:Yootle domains: Get 'em while they're hot! (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256882)

Yahoo! didn't get the .com and .net, as far as I can tell. You would think they'd have thought of that before announcing the name of their new online currency...
Yahoo! isn't announcing a new online currency. You'd think that people would bother to read TFS (or TFA, but who am I kidding?) before posting something like that.

It's an internal currency used to represent favors owed. It's used to enhance collaboration, and to help resolve differences between people who lack the social skills, desire, or time to compromise within a group.

Brilliant (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256684)

For an example of the wisdom of the masses, just look here [slashdot.org] . If that doesn't convince you, I do not know what will.

Photo of said crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17257118)

I think this is the crowd [flickr.com] you are looking for.

Sounds like it would would work really well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17256706)

...until the Chinese Yootle farming industry takes off.

Unlike US currency, Yootles have real backing valu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17256708)

Yahoo built a big vault where they store one flooz for each yootle issued. The Federal Reserve should take note.

ooo yay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17256716)

real life dragon kill points

"Yootles?" (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256738)

Who came up with that name, My Cousin Vinny? [indiana.edu] "Two yoots..."

Re:"Yootles?" (2, Informative)

EVil Lawyer (947367) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257064)

It's like "util" -- the economics/philosophy term... but closer to "Yahoo". Get it?

Re:"Yootles?" (1)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257194)

Mod parent up - good point on "util"!

I bid 500 Quatloos... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258736)

I bid 500 Quatloos that they change the name to something more meaningful.

Gaming the system (4, Insightful)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256758)

So you just always bid for a restuarant that nobody, under any circumstances, will ever actually want to go to. When you actually *want* to go somewhere in particular, you can outbid anybody else.

Anyway, my point is...this is great, except human nature will always win out. The system only works if people participate. To get maximum participation, you need some sort of incentive. As soon as there's incentive, people will figure out a way to game the system.

Re:Gaming the system (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257306)

In small groups ( ie: a carful ) if this strategy works, it will be quickly imitated by others. Then all of the participants will eat horrible food.

This looks like a prisoner's dilemma. Iterative prisoners dilemmas force such behavior to stop.

Re:Gaming the system (1)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258494)

I agree it'll be gamed, sadly the restaurant choice loophole is what struck me as obvious, too.

'Gaming' food ordering example: The group used to order a bunch of pizzas, then there was a typical college 'food frenzy' of consuming slices 'til all the pizza was gone. If you didn't eat quick, you didn't get as much pizza. Unless...

A friend of mine and I would make sure there was an anchovy pizza in the order. We didn't like anchovies per se, but unlike the rest of the group, we didn't hate 'em.

So the pizzas would arrive, we'd eat the non-anchovy pizzas like the rest, but didn't have to gorge ourselves. Once the 'desirable' pizzas were gone, we still had a full anchovy pizza to share (that no one else wanted).

Never underestimate techies trying to score free food.

Re:Gaming the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17260490)

. Once the 'desirable' pizzas were gone, we still had a full anchovy pizza to share (that no one else wanted).

So you're reward is being fat and having bad breath?

Good work :)

Yootle is a lame name (5, Funny)

badzilla (50355) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256794)

I think Yootle is a stupid name for a unit of fake currency. How about... hmm... hey I know, "Flooz"! No wait, even better, "Beanz"!

Re:Yootle is a lame name (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256992)

Stupid obscure tech bubble 2.0 reference win you nothing. :\

Re:Yootle is a lame name (1)

lottameez (816335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257678)

Uh. Google. Yahoo! Woot! That is Web 2.0 or Web Two - O! HA! [choking noise as dragged from desk and beaten by coworkers]

Re:Yootle is a lame name (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258978)

"I wager 400 yahootles on the newcomer" just doesn't sound right. They should have listened to their inner geeks and used 'quatloos'.

More info on prediction markets (4, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256900)

Prediction markets are a major interest of mine. I'm in a bit of a rush at the moment, so I'll have to make some more extensive comments later, but in the meantime here's some neat links on prediction markets:

* Tradesports, a real-money prediction market on political and news events. The 2008 president market [tradesports.com] currently gives a Democratic a 50% probability of winning the White House in 2008, Hillary Clinton a 55% probability of getting the Democratic nomination, and John McCain a 49% probability of getting the Republican nomination.

* Futarchy [gmu.edu] , a system of government semi-seriously proposed by Robin Hanson which would use prediction markets as a means of government decision-making. People would vote on values, and use a prediction market to determine the optimal government policies to achieve those values, which would help get around some of the godawful stupid things democracies tend to do.

* Storage Markets [storagemarkets.com] , a real-money (but limited access?) market on the computer storage industry

* The Policy Analysis Market [wikipedia.org] , a proposed prediction market for policies in the Middle East. It was IMHO a great idea, and could have potentially prevented some of the stupid decisions which have been made in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the government ended the project after it was the media (including slashdot [slashdot.org] ) had a knee-jerk reaction to it and demonized it. The funny thing is, after the project was cancelled and the media learned more about it, coverage of the project became much more positive.

Re:More info on prediction markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17257440)

i like this blogger

http://www.chrisfmasse.com/ [chrisfmasse.com]

and he has another blog like site with some other leading thinkers....

http://www.midasoracle.org/ [midasoracle.org]

i think an rss feed is worthy of the latter, its good stuff and keeps you well informed...

I predict this story will be.. (1)

browman1 (993559) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256902)

.. 23 popular

Wisdom of The Crowds (3, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256926)

Indeed...

The companies mentioned have some very smart people working for them. It's a shame the PHB's pretty much kill whatever innovation is happening in the belly of those beasts.

The wisdom of the crowds is frequently spoiled by individuals that game the system. Microsoft astroturfers on /. is a good example. So-called climate science coming from the U.S. Gov't that doubts global warming is another. As a former Tech Buzz Game player I can tell you from personal experience the game was stopped and restarted with new rules because of cheating.

The end result is the wisdom a crowd was supposed to provide essentially evaporates.

Re:Wisdom of The Crowds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17257084)

The wisdom of the crowds is frequently spoiled by individuals that game the system. Microsoft astroturfers on /. is a good example.

Errr, yeah. People who think that anything short of drooling Linux fanboyism must be coming from Microsoft employees have "wisdom" that could possibly be diluted.

The crowd is suddenly not so wise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17257482)

...when they fail to agree with your lefty worldview. Doesn't make them wrong though.

Yootles? (3, Interesting)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257004)

I'm sorry, but I fail to see the wisdom in a name as gawd-awful as "yootles"! I mean, you wouldn't expect to see some guru walking around and complaining that his/her existential theory of quantum physics and intracellular electromechanical equilibrium & interstellar space travel (IANAG - I am not a guru in those regards) was upset by not having enough "yootles" to buy a cup of coffee. Yootles are yet another substitute for good old hard cash?

Ok, maybe it's a little bit interesting, but seriously folks..

-6d

Re:Yootles? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258212)

Yootles are yet another substitute for good old hard cash?
No. RTFA -- or even TFS.

I'm sorry, but I fail to see the wisdom in a name as gawd-awful as "yootles"!
Your failure to see the wisdom does not mean there is no wisdom present. See other posters for a history of the term (hint: it's Y + utils).

In essence, yootles are a way for Yahoo! employees to communicate to others how important something is to them.

You don't like Yootles? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259526)

You should try Euros. WTF thought that up? It's the classic politicial compromise and as such is crap, it's like the inspirational equivalent of grey sludge.
 

It's pretty clear... (3, Funny)

hikerhat (678157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257006)

that yahoo is going down the shitter at top speed. Get out now before you pay check comes in yootels (or whatever) rather than dollars!

Re:It's pretty clear... (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259320)

The last company I worked at decided it wanted to pay people in "GoJos," which stood for "Good Job." They were essentially big blue marbles they would dole out as a pat on the head whenever you kissed ass well enough. They even gave us Crown Royal bags to hold them all. After 200 GoJos you could redeemed them for prizes like stereos and plasma screen TVs.

This was in lieu of paychecks.

I was out of there by nightfall.

Wisdom of the crowds = part of the long tail? (4, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257018)

I've been playing with a collaborative filter engine called CRITEO [criteo.com] that is completely blowing my mind in how it opens opportunities to gain that "wisdom of the crowds" bit for the average user -- not just huge companies like Amazon or these emergent venture capitalized corporations. Over the past 2 weeks I've been working on some Wordpress code to actually integrate this relevancy predictor (my results should be forthcoming by the first week of January) and it really seems like you NEED a predictive filtering engine to utilize the crowds to give each individual within the crowd relevant results as compared to just generic "ratings."

This Yootle system is interesting, but it doesn't go far enough. Just because the crowds skew towards a majority opinion doesn't mean that opinion is relevant to the majority (I know it sounds weird). Each individual will have certain likes and dislikes within that majority opinion. Without some sort of relevancy predictor, the "majority vote" is useless.

Hopefully we will see more people utilizing systems such as CRITEO's to actually take the input of the masses (thousands, millions, or even billions of decisions and ratings) and run them through a real-time engine to give everyone a unique view of what they might want/need/like/hate/etc. As I spent more time beating on trying to come up with my own quick/real-time solution, the more I realized that using someone else's services let me focus on what is best for my customer -- my content, generally.

The prediction system to rank Yahoo searches is very 2005 -- it really just capitalizes on the likes of the masses, which means it is hitting the top head of the long tail rather than the more important remaining 80%. I'd love to see a search engine that allows you to "rate" your search results or even individual search results in real time, maybe in collaboration with a system like CRITEO. Anyone interested in working on one? I'd be willing to bet that such an investment of time would give many of us a better search engine that actually returns results that are relevant to the individual's tastes rather than the masses' collective "favorites" which are usually way off base. It would also reduce the spam results greatly and open the door to the wisdom of the masses actually making a difference for each individual. What I like about collaborative filter is that 5 seconds per user can mean days or weeks saved for that user in the long run because of the 5 seconds "donated" by the million others.

Foresight Exchange (1)

mathx (988938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257088)

Just a reminder, as posted in many many slashdot posts before (see http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Aslashd ot.org+ideosphere [google.com] ), the http://ideosphere.com/ [ideosphere.com] site has been running a (non monetary) experiment in freemarket intelligence for a long time. The more players the more fun (and better information extractable from the market). Go play. -math

Wisdom (2, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257186)

As several authors have put it - the intelligence of a crowd equals the IQ of the least intelligent member divided by the number of people.

Beware: there's another phrase (2, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257192)

The madness of mobs.

Yahoo Yootle... (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257196)

Maybe they should learn Yiddish [wikipedia.org] to find more colorful words?

Wisdom (1)

addsalt (985163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257204)

What does the Yootle have to do with a wisdom of the crowd concept? It has no predictive aspect, only a petty score keeping of how much work you do and how little you get your way.

Re:Wisdom (1)

seb249 (603325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259622)

Sounds like a human resources department trying to justify their existence by putting in place a warm and fuzzy voting scheme. You dont get what you voted for but you still feel loved cos you got some cute named currency type thing

Not a new concept, but loads of new applications (3, Interesting)

Lord Puppet (300347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257230)

I've always been interested in ways of tapping into the crowd as a resource.

Slashdot and Digg [digg.com] got a lot of attention as news filters, but these things are now being used everywhere. Trusted Places [trustedplaces.com] for restaurant reviews, Crowdstorm [crowdstorm.com] for shopping recommendations, wine sites, health sites, etc., etc. I can't wait to see where this is all headed. What's the next logical step?

The next logical step (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259464)

Is filtering out the idiots. You know, the ones who have no clue what they're talking about but who are very keen to inform you of the fact.

You have to remember that for every person with an IQ above average, there's one with an IQ below average. That democracy doesn't take this into account is it's largest failing.

 

I can't be the only one (2, Interesting)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257236)

who reads that and immediately concocts a plan to rig the system.
Take for example the restaurant example. I may not be too bothered which one of those two we go to, but if I do choose the most vile restaurant I can think of and make that my choice, then I'll still get to eat where the most yootles wanted to go, but I get given Yootles as well.
This works for a while, until more people twig and junk on the bandwaggon - eventually nobody'll come out with a net-yootle amount - and you'll all end up eating in the foul restaurant.

Also... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257260)

Is that Yootles with stars or Yootles without stars?

Was Dr. Seuss the keynote speaker?

Wisdom of the Crowds? (2, Funny)

mediocubano (801656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257510)

Obligatory demotivator reference: "None of us is as dumb as all of us" http://despair.com/meetings.html [despair.com]

Re:Wisdom of the Crowds? (1)

mediocubano (801656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257672)

Oh yeah and this one too: "Never understimate the power of stupid people in large groups" http://despair.com/idiocy.html [despair.com]

Microsoft believes in community efforts? (0, Flamebait)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257540)

Isn't this the same company that scoffs at similar situations that result in source code being written, re-written, etc For example, open source which results in Linux? It's a bit of an irony.

Although, they've done this many times before. Take part of something well respected and has community involvement (Java, etc) and then consume their efforts later. I'd be very careful what I share with Microsoft. Not because I don't like them, but because of a very long track record.

Other than that little tidbit, it sounds like a great idea. I try and get my sister companies to help out each other, but everyone is always so focused on their own piece of the pie. Harvard Business Review (December 06) had an interesting write up ( Managing the Right Tension) which talks about the competing priorities of making collaborative efforts that help the community but hurt your individual unit. They use it in the sense of cross-organizational groups, but it's still a concept you could apply to industries. How often do you seen companies move on an opportunity to help the whole industry at their own expense?

"Bidding" system is kindof silly (1)

KimJongSick (954027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257676)

What if there's a tie? Say my mother, who has horrible musical taste, wants to listen to Mike Reid. Say I want to listen to Pink Floyd. We both bid the exact same on each artist/group, and so we end up listening to Iris DeMent. Who wins? Nobody, 'cause now we have to listen to utterly crap music. Besides, calling your currency the "Yootle" is just _begging_ for 4chan or Fark to turn it into some kind of horribly unpleasant sexual innuendo.

Wisdom in signatures (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257810)

My signature defines the true wisdom found in crowds. Moo

I prefer Quatloos (1)

WalletBoy (555942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257922)

Right now the exchange rate is much more favorable for Quatloos. Most places that take the Yootle also take Quatloos anyways so it's not much of a problem.

Crowds do not possess wisdom... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258530)

They only possess mob crew behavior.

An humble suggestion... (1)

LoyalOpposition (168041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258584)

I don't know; I think stupidity is a much more powerful force. Is there some way we could draw on the stupidity of crowds? In warfare, for example, you could draw on the stupidity of crowds, and when you "bomb somebody back into the stone age" you might do it without loss of life or property.

-Loyal

Hmmm (1)

Jalestra (1009473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258694)

You know who would take this over? Prostitutes. As far as I know it's perfectly legal to exchange sex for Yootles...Not to mention improving the exchange rate by throwing in a little *coughs*something extra....and as no money is exchanging hands, that would get them out of entrapment. Where did that come from you ask?I don't know, but there it is.

Extrapoling this + DRM (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17258740)

and in the future all of our choices will be similar to, "choose whatever you want, as long as it's vanilla."

I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17258768)

that if this becomes popular, we'll end up making decisions using self-fulfilling software.

F/RISt STOP (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17258826)

If I remain JuliEt Are tog3ther

What's the value of a yootle? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259170)

I ask because it takes a certain amount of physical time and work to perform a favour.

Anyway, who destroys the yootles? If you keep creating them but they're never destroyed, they'll become worthless very quickly indeed. The yootle inflation will be huge.

 

Whuffie (3, Informative)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259172)

Sort of like Whuffie [wikipedia.org] from Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom [craphound.com] although that was based on general goodwill and esteem, not specific favors per se. Wiki's definition is probably better:

Whuffie is the ephemeral, reputation-based currency of Cory Doctorow's sci-fi novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. This future history book describes a post-scarcity economy: All the necessities (and most of the luxuries) of life are free for the taking. A person's current Whuffie is instantly viewable to anyone, as everybody has a brain-implant giving them an interface with the Net.

Wisdom of Crowds (4, Funny)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17259250)

Whenever I hear the phrase, "Wisdom of Crowds," I think of lemmings.

Predictive networks and markets reflect consensus (1)

wintermute42 (710554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17260132)

Predictive networks and markets may reflect the "wisdom of crowds", but this "wisdom" is just the current consensus view. There are times when the consensus view is very wrong, even when it comes to predicting what masses of people will do.

For some time leading up to the 2006 mid-term elections in the United States I followed the Intrade and Iowa Electronic markets which were real money futures markets for, among other things, the US House and Senate races. The idea is that because these markets attract thousands of people and because they trade real money futures, they may be accurate predictors of future political events. This speculation has been born out in the past.

Leading up to the mid-term elections the Intrade and Iowa Electronic markets had more or less the same prediction: that the Democrats would talk control of the House. But the chance given for the Democrats taking the Senate was only about 33%. There were a couple of close elections (Webb in Virginia and Tester in Montana), but the Democrats ended with with a very thin majority in the Senate. In retrospect the political markets seem to have underestimated the wave of discontent among voters.

The "wisdom" of crowds can be useful, but it is not always accurate, as the last election showed. People naturally tend to think that tomorrow will be like today, which was like yesterday. In general this view is correct. But extreme events take place (market crashes and extreme economic declines or bubbles or even wars). The "wisdom of crowds" is very bad at predicting drastic change. The "crowd" just goes along placidly while extreme events lurk on the horizon. In fact, if anything crowds tend to ignore evidence that change is coming, until the change is upon them.

Yootles? (1)

revery (456516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17260260)

Yootles? I thought it was called Whuffie [wikipedia.org] ?!

What's Whuffie you ask? Well, click the link, and if it sounds interesting, go here [craphound.com] and download the book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. (it's free)

Yootle Compensation Fairness Critical (2, Interesting)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17260912)

Yootle based exchanges had best be fair, or else expect problems as demonstrated by scientific research [upliftprogram.com] .

Community currencies and 'yootles' (1)

hughbar (579555) | more than 7 years ago | (#17261166)

We've had one of the proponents of yootles (I'm not going to embarrass him by name) on the International Journal of Community Currencies (ijccr) mailing list (on Yahoo).

All I see was/is an attempt to create a currency to monetize favours, which (IMHO) ought to be freely given in an elightened society anyway. This is probably an attempt to talk up something that is not to do with the 'wisdom of crowds' anyway.

For anyone interested in community currencies and with a little patience, I'd suggest the above list and http://www.le.ac.uk/ulmc/ijccr/ [le.ac.uk] the journal itself.
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