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Technology Review Features Research by Kostakos on Crowd Wisdom

In the Media

A Technology Review article discusses work by Vassilis Kostakos about online recommendation systems. HCII faculty Nikki Kittur is also interviewed.

The article says:

“When searching online for a new gadget to buy or a movie to rent, many people pay close attention to the number of stars awarded by customer-reviewers on popular websites. But new research confirms what some may already suspect: those ratings can easily be swayed by a small group of highly active users.

Vassilis Kostakos, an assistant professor at the University of Madeira in Portugal and an adjunct assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), says that rating systems can tap into the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to offer useful insights, but they can also paint a distorted picture of a product if a small number of users do most of the voting. ‘It turns out people have very different voting patterns,’ he says, varying both among individuals and among communities of users.

Niki Kittur, an assistant professor at CMU who studies user collaboration on Wikipedia and was not involved with Kostakos’s work, says that providing more information about voting patterns to users could also be helpful. Kittur suggests that sites could create ways to easily summarize and represent other users’ contributions to reveal any obvious biases.”