McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Announcements

August 23, 2013

Why you shouldn't trust Internet comments

The "wisdom of crowds" has become a mantra of the Internet age. Need to choose a new vacuum cleaner? Check out the reviews on Amazon. Is that restaurant any good? See what Yelp has to say. But a new study suggests that such online scores don't always reveal the best choice. A massive controlled experiment of Web users finds that such ratings are highly susceptible to irrational "herd behavior" — and that the herd can be manipulated.

Sometimes the crowd really is wiser than you. The classic examples are guessing the weight of a bull or the number of gumballs in a jar. Your guess is probably going to be far from the mark, whereas the average of many people's choices is remarkably close to the true number.

But what happens when the goal is to judge something less tangible, such as the quality or worth of a product? According to one theory, the wisdom of the crowd still holds — measuring the aggregate of people's opinions produces a stable, reliable value. Skeptics, however, argue that people's opinions are easily swayed by those of others. So nudging a crowd early on by presenting contrary opinions — for example, exposing them to some very good or very bad attitudes — will steer the crowd in a different direction. To test which hypothesis is true, you would need to manipulate huge numbers of people, exposing them to false information and determining how it affects their opinions.

A team led by Sinan Aral, a network scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, did exactly that. Aral has been secretly working with a popular website that aggregates news stories. (He says it is similar to Reddit, but he's keeping the identity confidential because he has another experiment under way with the same site and doesn't want it to be "tainted" by media exposure.) The website allows users to make comments about news stories and vote each other's comments up or down. The vote tallies are visible as a number next to each comment, and the position of the comments is chronological. (Stories on the site get an average of about 10 comments and about three votes per comment.) It's a follow-up to his experiment using people's ratings of movies to measure how much individual people influence each other online (answer: a lot). This time, he wanted to know how much the crowd influences the individual, and whether it can be controlled from outside.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Announcements
  • RICHARDSON 50 1.jpg Richardsons celebrate 50 years of marriage

    Haileyville High School graduates Jim and Connie Richardson, of rural Claremore, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Masonic Officers South McAlester Lodge 96 announces officers for 2014

    South McAlester Lodge 96 officers for 2014 are, from left, front row, Senior Warden Larry Ivy, Worshipful Master Chad Peery, Junior Warden Lance Hess, Senior Steward Christopher Hitchcock and Secretary Brian Engleman; and top row, Senior Deacon Matthew Box, Junior Steward Gregory Steidley, Chaplain Billy Erkin and Trustee Mike Sexton. Not pictured are Treasurer Jack Inman, Junior Deacon Jake Tannehill and Brent Yates.

    January 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • facebook.png Have teens really stopped using Facebook?

    In baseball, trend-spotting tends to be based on statistical analysis. In fashion, it's driven by runway shows. And when it comes to social networks, the ascendant paradigm for forecasting the future seems to center on first-person anecdotes and unsupported hearsay from random teen-agers.

    August 24, 2013 1 Photo

  • amazon Why you shouldn't trust Internet comments

    A new study suggests that such online scores don't always reveal the best choice. A massive controlled experiment of Web users finds that such ratings are highly susceptible to irrational "herd behavior" — and that the herd can be manipulated.

    August 23, 2013 1 Photo

  • Screen shot 2013-08-13 at 10.25.04 AM.png VIDEO: Timelapse shows Perseid meteor shower

    This CNN video, shot in Hawaii, shows dozens of meteors crossing the skies during the Perseid meteor shower.

    August 23, 2013 1 Photo

  • 0812-forged.jpg Man accused of forging divorce papers to fool new girlfriend's mom

    A Pennsylvania man is accused of forging a judge's signature on a divorce decree to fool the mother of his much-younger new girlfriend, according to court documents.

    August 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • RAV4Ext.jpg Cargazing: Toyota RAV4 gets more efficient, better looking

    If you're looking for a compact crossover these days, you've got plenty of options: the sporty kind, the luxury kind, the truck-like kind and the just plain funky kind. But what I'm checking out this week is the traditional kind. It's the 2013 Toyota RAV4, and it's the kind of middle-of-the-road crossover that's made this type of car so popular in recent years.

    August 22, 2013 2 Photos

  • AVIS12.jpg 'We try harder': The most brilliant ad slogan of the 20th century

    In 1962, Avis was in search of a new advertising campaign. So the ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach decided to embrace Avis' second-place status as a sneaky way to tout the brand's customer service. "When you're only No. 2, you try harder," went the new tagline. "Or else."

    August 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • 0812-twins.jpg 8 sets of twins enrolled in school's kindergarten

    Sixteen tiny kindergartners sat on the slide at Pipe Creek Elementary in on their first day of school, waiting for a photographer to take their picture. Those 16 children are bound together by a common thread — they are all twins.

    August 16, 2013 1 Photo

  • iStock_000018389392XSmall.jpg 10 worst password ideas and tips for picking a better one

    Are your online passwords easily hackable? Measure yours up against this list of the 10 worst password ideas as outlined by Google Apps.

    August 16, 2013 1 Photo

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
NDN Video
Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.