Archives for posts with tag: crowdsourcing

John De Leon was a graduate student in engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology, and he kept finding typographical errors in his textbooks. “Who hasn’t?” you academics might be thinking to yourselves. Well, De Leon — and colleagues Hiro Sasaki, Brandon Kim and Albert Ko — decided to do something about it. After contacting a few publishers to report the errors they were finding, they discovered that most publishers have no systematic way to collect error reports from readers. The inspiration for was in place.

Unlike Show Me the Errors at the Missourian, Typoze isn’t attached to any one publisher, and the errors that are reported there aren’t automatically corrected (or rejected). Instead, it’s a surrogate for missing error reporting systems at publishers’ websites, and it’s a social network with its own rewards. As a Typoze user, you can find any published book in Typoze’s Google Books-powered database, you report the error you found, you can comment on other users’ reports, and you can get feedback on your own. Over time, you build an official ranking and social capital within the community.

That last bit might be a nice feature to add to Show Me the Errors. Is there a way we could have on site an automated ranking that creates a bit of a horse race for users? Is there a way readers could report the errors on the site so that other readers could see them, and we could comment there too? It could then become a real community and a shared learning experience.

The Washington Post this month entered the arena of crowdsourcing accuracy — and in a big way.

Like the Missourian’s “Show Me the Errors,” the Post has reached out to its readers by asking for fixes. Every article includes a box that says: “Corrections? Suggestions?”

It’s more work to report an error. At the Missourian, you fill in the box and send (if you’re registered). At the Post, the linked page asks you to copy and paste in the URL of the article. You also must check one box for the section the story ran in and another for the kind of mistake: factual, grammatical, punctuation or spelling.

Then you can describe the error.

That’s the awkward part.

The cool part — the one we should consider at the Missourian — asks:

“What do we need to know to improve future stories on this topic?”

Well, that’s just great.

I wouldn’t want to clutter up the Missourian article page much more. Perhaps, though, it could be an invitation added somewhere else (on the “Preview Correction” page?)

What’s so swell about it? To me, it feels more like an invitation to describe the parts that aren’t wrong but aren’t in the article at all — to get at those things that are accurate but incomplete.

Matt DiRienzo of The Register Citizen in Connecticut said these errors of omission are far more extensive. “We don’t go deep enough into a story, or we miss pieces of information and perspective that would change readers’ perception of an issue.” His newspaper also was one of the first to crowdsource corrections.

But wait. There’s more at the Post.

DiRienzo says the paper may be building a new Rolodex of sources:

The Washington Post corrections/fact check page even has a “yes/no” opt-in to the question, “Would you be willing to help with other stories?”, suggesting that the paper is building a foundation for future crowdsourcing efforts, perhaps by specific topic.

This is a huge symbolic shift, I hope, away from the “fortress journalism” that traditional media has clung to even as the web and social media have completely changed the audience dynamic out from under them.

I’m sure there are other examples out there. Show Me the Errors has been a great success since its launch last semester. (It was first formally proposed by a team of students in the Journalism & Democracy course.)

How can we make it even better?

Here’s what WikiFactCheck says it is:

This WikiFactCheck wiki is for brainstorming and prototyping how a WikiFactCheck project could provide rapid, crowd-sourced fact checking of news events, such as:

  • US Sunday morning talk shows such as Meet The Press, This Week and Face the Nation (a target of noted critics such as Jay Rosen [1])
  • Political speeches and debates
  • Corporate press conferences
  • Election campaign advertisements

It’s not the same thing as the green eyeshades project. But both carry the same central premise: that there have to be ways to harness the power of the crowd.

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