How do you make the web reliable?

Andrew and I were talking this morning about how we can count on the New York Times to be accurate, but an article linked to by Reddit is often horribly biased.  We began thinking about how to hold the web accountable, and we came up with a nifty idea.  Make it a wiki/competition/social network.  Here’s our plan:

You download a Firefox extension that puts  a little “+/- comments” in the corner of your screen.  If you’re on a page you like, you click the “+”.  If you don’t like the page, you click the “-“.  If you have more to say, click “comments” and type in a comment about the page, and anyone visiting the site after you will be able to see it.  Clicking “comments” will show you all the comments other people have made about this page, too.

Let’s take an example.  Recently, Microsoft put up a page comparing IE8 to other browsers.  It was… a bit biased.  But there’s no comments section!  So, using my handy-dandy extension, I click on “-” because I think it’s a dumb page.  Then I click on “comments” and type “biased much?” (clever, eh?).  Then I see that someone else made a truly intelligent comment and linked to an impartial comparison.  I click on the “+” next to their name, upvoting their comment.  Oh, also, I see that the page has been rated -923 by users overall.

Now, I’m totally riffing off of Stack Overflow here, which had the brilliant idea of attaching karma to users. When I upvote a user’s comment, they get 10 karma points.  When I downvote, they lose a karma point, and so do I.  More karma gives you more privileges.  

I’m really psyched about this.  It seems like it would be easy to develop the basic idea (basically a user system and a blog system) and there are a zillion features we can add later. Benefits for users:

  • Ability to comment on web sites with no comments section (cool ones I’ve thought of are Twitter pages, ftp:// (downloads), and pay sites’ logins (yes, I’m a jerk))
  • The satisfaction of gaining karma to gain more power
  • Access to other visitors to the site, whom you’d never normally be able to interact with

So, I’m going to try to implement it.

kristina chodorow's blog