Mob Rule or Sage Counsel?

March 5, 2009 2 By archshrk
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I admire Google’s efforts to gather information and share it with the world in an organized, relevant manner. That’s what makes them such a good search engine. They are always looking for ways to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, they don’t always get it right.

Official Google Blog: Tipping points
Tip Jar (www.google.com/tipjar), an experiment powered by Google Moderator that we hope will help you discover the most effective ways to save money. There are lots of money-saving tips scattered across the web, but even if you found them, it would be hard to know which ones were worth trying. Tip Jar gathers tips in one place and invites people ? i.e., you, me and everyone else ? to rank them in order of usefulness and even add their own tips to the list. Over time, the best and most useful tips will rise to the top.

On the surface this sounds great. Gather the resources under one roof, let the masses sort out the value of the tips and let the cream rise to the top – just like on YouTube and Digg. Just like it. You see, the problem is that when you let people make decisions like this, they will be motivated by different goals/agendas. For example, some will simply vote for what they think is a good tip while others will vote to get their tip promoted to the top. The other factor is, how many of these tips are already common knowledge and we simply choose to ignore. Everyone probably already knows – don’t shop hungry, filter your own water, and buy generic. But at the same time, we need to be reminded of the obvious on occasion.

In the end, I think this will mostly benefit those who are in the business of being frugal (coupon bloggers, columnists, etc.) as they make their own “Top 10” savings tip lists. These lists will be a better, more honest, measure of a tips value as traffic and duplication rise. I will say this – I do like the interface of the new Tip Jar site, and I think that’s where Google is going to be truly successful. I bet you’ll see this format used in future Google tools. Go check it out and tell me what you think.