Thursday, November 29, 2007

Crowdsource, "but verify"?

My colleague, Bill Pardue at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, along with Caleb Tucker-Raymond of Multnomah County Public Library have organized the ongoing Slam the Boards event on the 10th of every month.

On that day, Librarians swarm general answer boards like Yahoo Answers, Amazon's Askville and WikiPedia Reference Desk to provide quality, authoritative answers to the world's questions.

The success of Slam the Boards got me to thinking, could the general answer boards be a two-way street - is there also value in utilizing those boards to crowdsource the toughest Reference questions, but then verify the responses before passing an answer back along to patrons?

Now certainly there are listservs and outlets that can be used for the same function, but it seems to me the general answer boards have the widest possible audience (and thanks to Slam the Boards, that audience now includes trained Librarians), and thus the deepest, most diverse pool to draw an answer from - perhaps giving us our best chance to find someone with specialized or maybe even first-hand knowledge.

Or we could find ourselves wading through piles of raving drivel with lots of !!!!!!!!! ..... :-)
But I don't suppose we would know until we tried.

Any thoughts from the house on this one?

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