Tuesday Buzz: Oh, a Wise Guy, Eh?

New research suggests a path for online communities beyond the wisdom of the crowds. Also: what happens when your brand voice loses its consistency.

Maybe the “wisdom of the crowds” isn’t so wise after all.

Sure, smart community conversation has its moments, but sometimes independent thinking is the best thinking.

That’s the finding of new research by Spain’s Cajal Institute, which notes that while the community concept has its benefits—some communities, such as Reddit, are built around the social construct—it tends to fall apart when biases are added to the mix.

The research, by neurobiologists Gabriel Madirolas and Gonzalo De Polavieja, suggests there’s a way to improve how these communities work by highlighting the most confident people in any conversation.

“Their idea is that some people are more strongly influenced by additional information than others who are confident in their own opinion,” Cornell University’s arXiv explains in a summary of the research over at MIT Technology Review. “So identifying these more strongly influenced people and separating them from the independent thinkers creates two different groups. The group of independent thinkers is then more likely to give a wise estimate.”

The two researchers, in their paper Wisdom of the Confident: Using Social Interactions to Eliminate the Bias in Wisdom of the Crowds, suggest a mathematical model that could find these moments of confident brilliance and highlight them. Their research also describes the failings of the masses, or the “Reddit hivemind,” while suggesting a path beyond it.

Maybe it won’t happen tomorrow, but someday our online communities could be so much the wiser thanks to this kind of research.

When the Tone Wavers

What makes a brand a brand is its consistency. If it suddenly takes a sharp turn, your members will notice, and eventually you’ll lose your impact. That’s not good.

How can you keep it on track?

Over at Association Marketer, interlinkONE President and CEO John Foley Jr. has a few suggestions to keep that brand voice on point. He says simple reminders for your staff are great for this.

“Posters, printouts, or a folder full of tips can all be used to remind staff how your brand voice sounds,” he writes. “A list of words that work and words to avoid, examples of how to order sentences, and even examples of how not to do it will all help your association staff to use your brand voice when communicating.”

The goal is to stay consistent, he says. What’s your take: easier said than done? (ht @AssocContent)

Other good reads

What makes a CEO different from a COO? National Fluid Power Association CEO Eric Lanke, who has held both positions, explains.

For those with noisy inboxes, the Gmail-focused CRM tool Streak has a nifty feature that might put your mind at ease: a snooze button. LifeHacker shares the details.

Your IT staff may not have to handle 6 billion clicks in a month, like Bitly does, but there are some useful takeaways from that kind of scale. High Scalability highlights them.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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