Space Ramblings

Rating the Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has made headlines lately calling for a ratings system for the web to filter out truth content of websites. Now before the BoingBoing crowd gets their steampunk Victorian knickers with added buckles, gears and vents in a twist, he isn’t thinking of an MPAA style ratings system. The problem with his proposal though is that truth itself is subjective. I may not agree that we live in a post-fact society, but on many subjects truth is a matter of opinion, and even truth ratings sites such as Snopes or FactCheck are run by human beings with their own prejudices and experiments like Wikipedia show that bias remains a factor even with a large pool of users, editors and a system of verification and checks and balances. Or to put it another way, so far we don’t even have a way to keep spam results from showing up on the first page of a search engine search. Does anyone seriously believe that we have a shot at actually verifying the truthfulness of websites when we can’t even seem to verify their spamminess? With Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s idea what we would end up with is mutually exclusive communities of ratings systems that would be routinely hijacked and lead to constant editing wars. And we already have that. It’s called Digg or Wikipedia.

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