Last years best April Fools Day joke had something to do with the wisdom of crowds.

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Wikipedia founder&#8217-s bold experiment

Diagnosed with cataracts, Jimmy Wales invites first 100 people who show up at his home to perform surgery. &#8220-There may be some trial and error, but I&#8217-m confident the community will make the right decisions,&#8221- Wales said.

MIDAS ORACLE&#8217-S 2008 APRIL FOOL&#8217-S DAY JOKE: BetFair-TradeFair hire Bo Cowgill in an attempt to improve their ranking in Google web search results.

Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • Play-money prediction exchange HubDub is a phenomenal success.
  • BetFair Australia’s spin doctor tells all about their payments to the horse race industry.
  • Meet Jeffrey Ma (at right on the photo), the ProTrade co-founder, and whose gambling life is the basis of the upcoming movie, 21.
  • Independent production company seeks deep throats to spill beans on online poker industry and BetFair Poker.
  • BetFair-TradeFair hire Bo Cowgill in an attempt to improve their ranking in Google web search results.

Jimmy Wales accused of editing Wikipedia for donations.

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Wiki News (Wikipedia&#8217-s twin site devoted to news edited by anyone) has a long article on that scandal, agitated by ValleyWag, and denied by TechCrunch. I&#8217-m on the side of ValleyWag&#8217-s Paul Boutin, on that one. The media should start asking the hard questions. [I’m not saying that Jimmy Wales, who has earned our respect, is a culprit. I’m just saying that the media should investigate more on that.] And blogger Mike Linksvayer, who urged us many times to contribute US dollars and French francs to Wikipedia, should do too.

UPDATE: New York Times

WordPress is a bit like WikiMedia (the software powering Wikipedia), now.

Two weeks ago, I was seeking a WordPress way to have multiple authors for a post or a page. I found 2 interesting plugins.

  1. The CO-AUTHORS plugin, which does what it says. One specific post or page can be assigned two or more co-author(s) by the blog editor. Very interesting. (I don&#8217-t get why the plugin developer forbids the co-authors to &#8220-edit&#8221- the post/page, though. Mystery, which I will try to clear up with the software architect of this plugin.)
  2. The ROLE MANAGER plugin (not listed in the official WordPress plugin directory), which changes the standard WordPress matrix of roles and capabilities. It can redefine the capabilities of one category of users (i.e., one &#8220-role&#8221-), and can change the capabilities of one individual, but won&#8217-t assign common capabilities on a post/page-by-post/page basis (unlike the CO-AUTHORS plugin). To put it in another way, the ROLE MANAGER plugin can be used to extend (or restrict) the capabilities of the blog authors. Right now, they can only publish a post, not a page. In this instance, they would be allowed to write and edit pages &#8212-without the need for the blog administrator to promote these authors as full editors (which would be tricky since those multiple editors could then edit their peers&#8217- posts &#8211-not acceptable in a big group blog with 71 blog posters).

Very interesting.

On Midas Oracle, one could have:

  • Authors Mike Giberson and Adam Siegel writing together a post on &#8220-How Great An Exchange Inkling Markets Is&#8220-.
  • Authors Chris Masse, Mike Giberson, David Pennock and Jason Ruspini writing together a page on &#8220-The Ultimate Prediction Market Definition&#8220-.
  • Etc., etc., etc.
  • If plenty of co-authors collaborate on a post/page, then my hope is that Midas Oracle could become more than just a &#8220-blog&#8221-, and be also a vertical encyclopedia on prediction markets. (Of course, participation inequality remains an issue.)

[External Reading: For the life of you, don’t miss this blog post by Tim O’Reilly on Wikipedia.]


UPDATE: The creator of the CO-AUTHORS plugin writes back to me:

Not allowing all of the co-authors the ability to edit a page is not by design- I just have to do more research on WordPress permissions to find out how to do so, if even it is possible.

I wonder whether using the two plugins together is the solution&#8230-


UPDATE: My current thought is to give each Midas Oracle author the capability to create, write up and edit his/her own page(s). And then to assign co-authors to some post(s) and page(s), on a case-by-case basis.

Amateur Journalists (Bloggers) Vs. Professional Journalists (Media) Vs. Wisdom Of Crowds & Collective Intelligence (Wikipedia)

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And the wisdom of crowds won, of course. That&#8217-s the conclusion I draw from reading Rogers Cadenhead at WorkBench, who assessed what would be the settlement of the LongBets wager on:

In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times&#8217- Web site.

Dave Winer

($1,000 each)

Martin Nisenholtz

For Rogers Cadenhead, Dave Winer will win the bet. But he also says that the overall winner is&#8230- WIKIPEDIA.

[…] So Winer wins the bet 3-2, but his premise of blog triumphalism is challenged by the fact that on all five stories, a major U.S. media outlet ranks above the leading weblog in Google search. Also, the results for the top story of the year reflect poorly on both sides. In the five years since the bet was made, a clear winner did emerge, but it was neither blogs nor the Times. Wikipedia, which was only one year old in 2002, ranks higher today on four of the five news stories: 12th for Chinese exports, fifth for oil prices, first for the Iraq war, fourth for the mortgage crisis and first for the Virginia Tech killings. Winer predicted a news environment &#8220-changed so thoroughly that informed people will look to amateurs they trust for the information they want.&#8221- Nisenholtz expected the professional media to remain the authoritative source for &#8220-unbiased, accurate, and coherent&#8221- information. Instead, our most trusted source on the biggest news stories of 2007 is a horde of nameless, faceless amateurs who are not required to prove expertise in the subjects they cover.

So the real winner is Wikipedia &#8212-a news and knowledge aggregator&#8230- using anonymous volunteers. But Wikipedia is only an information aggregator&#8230- it feeds on both media and blogs to gather the facts. Wikipedia is the common denominator of knowledge &#8212-not the primary source of reporting. Just like prediction markets feed on polls and other advanced indicators.

External Link: See a previous assessment of the bet by Jason Kottke.

NEXT: Amateur Experts (Yahoo! Answers) Vs. Wisdom Of Crowds &amp- Collective Intelligence (Wikipedia)

UPDATE: An empty comment from Read &#038- Write Web.

Please, make WordPress a bit like Wikipedia.

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Folks, here is my proposal to the WordPress developers:

Assign a great number of editors to some specific pages

Right now, if you are an editor in WordPress, you can edit any posts and pages. Hence, the administrator of a big group blog would not have many editors &#8212-because the blog posters would not like the idea that their colleagues can edit their posts.

But it would be great to be able to have a great number of editors for some specific pages. That way, any group blog powered by WordPress would be able to tap in the &#8220-wisdom of crowds&#8221- (see James Surowiecki book by the same name) &#8212-the same way Wikipedia does. For more on Wikipedia, see these two posts.

Collective intelligence (a.k.a. wisdom of crowds) is a mechanism at the heart of Google PageRank, Wikipedia, open-source software, prediction markets, etc. It is very powerful. WordPress could tap into that very easily, by allowing a page-by-page editing role.

The WP admin would set who are the editor(s) of a particular page &#8212-one registered person, two, a bunch of blog authors&#8230- or any internet citizens like in Wikipedia.

Thanks a lot for your attention. Contact me for more info, or leave a comment below.

NEXT: WordPress is a bit like WikiMedia (the software powering Wikipedia), now.

Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • The definitive proof that FOR-PROFIT prediction exchanges (like BetFair and InTrade) are the best organizers of socially valuable prediction markets (like those on global warming and climate change).
  • Fairness Doctrine prediction markets
  • 2 MILLION TRADES LATER: Inkling’s play-money prediction markets are accurate —too.
  • Web Forums on Prediction Markets
  • Jason Ruspini will answer SOME of these CFTC questions. — 12 days left, Jason.
  • QUIZZ OF THE DAY: Which blog is the most open minded?
  • Prediction Markets TV — Will the controversial but indispensable Max Keiser (ex-HSX) stay true to his purpose, or will he f*** it up?