Flaming as pollution

David Pogue (New York Times) worries about another kind of pollution overwhelming popular user-contributed content sites: flaming.

In 2007, the challenge may be keeping that conversation from descending into the muck.
As a Web 2.0 site or a blog becomes more popular, a growing percentage of its reader contributions devolve into vitriol, backstabbing and name-calling….One thing is clear, however: the uncivil participants are driving away the civil ones. The result is an acceleration of the cycle, and an increasing proportion of hostile remarks.

Interesting point. Flaming isn’t new, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored: it does tend to degrade the quality of otherwise valuable open access resources.
Are there incentive-centered designs that could reduce flaming? Pogue mentions requiring real names, though he acknowledges that might drive away many desirable users. He concludes that people may just have to accept flaming the way they accept spam: can’t we do better?

Spamming Web 2.0

The New York Times today ran a short note highlighting CNET’s story about commercial spamming of Digg.com and similar sites. There are companies being paid upwards of $15,000 to get a product placed on the front page of Digg, and most recently a top 30 Digger admitted that he entered an agreement to help elevate a new business to the front page of Digg (and solicited the other top 30 Diggers to participate).
The world was pretty darned excited when it discovered email (for most people, in the early 1990s). Spam followed in a big way within a year or two. It’s clear to me that we’re on the same trajectory with user-contributed content sites on the Web. There is an ever-increasing need for incentive-centered designs to help keep the bad stuff out.

Did someone mention user-contributed content?

Well, if Time magazine recognzies user-contributed content (Person of the Year: You) is the next big thing, maybe it is (or maybe it’s on the way out).
Time recognizes there are incentives issues:

Who are these people? … Who has that time and that energy and that passion? … Sure, it’s a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom.